Norwich City fans get a taste of skepticism after Chief Executive David McNally “resigns” on Twitter

UPDATE: David McNally has now officially resigned, according to the club’s official website

 

It’s not often that my worlds of skepticism and Norwich City fandom collide, so I’m not going to skip the opportunity to write about them when they do!

Right now, it isn’t the best of times to be a Norwich City fan. Although the victorious trip to Wembley for the Championship play off final was under a year ago, this season they have struggled in the Premier league. They are currently mired in a relegation battle, and barring a major change in fortune look set for a swift return to England’s second tier.

As you might expect, some fans are not at all happy about this situation, with a fair amount of ire being directed at David McNally, the current chief executive of Norwich City Football Club (for the record, I think he’s been great for Norwich and I want to see him stay). After yet another “played quite well but couldn’t score and let in one goal” type of performance in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, a disgruntled fan decided to send an angry tweet to McNally and he replied with this (since deleted) tweet:

McNally resigns

Cue social media meltdown. Facebook was full of discussion about the tweet and “McNally resigns” started trending in Norwich. The local press, including the Eastern Daily Press and sports paper The Pinkun ran the story, wondering whether the news was genuine. After several tense hours of fan speculation, McNally tweeted the following (also since deleted):

McNally does not resign

Now, this is a good example of why skepticism is so important. Broadly speaking, skepticism is about questioning and investigating claims rather than just taking them at face value. Traditionally these claims include “alternative medicine works”, “vaccines cause autism” or “ghosts exist”, but it’s a broad church (or at least it should be) so let’s apply some skepticism to McNally’s “resignation” tweet. First of all, let’s look at the possibilities as to why this tweet would appear:

  1. It’s genuine. David McNally has bypassed all official forms of club communication and announced his resignation on Twitter
  2. He’s joking
  3. His Twitter account has been “hacked”

When analysing the possibilities, you have to consider which are the most like and which are the least likely. For me, the possibility of David McNally resigning on Twitter is incredibly unlikely for so many reasons. First of all, the man is a professional, he wouldn’t make such a momentous announcement through his personal social media accounts and without first consulting the rest of the Norwich City board. It would be completely out of character. Also, it’s not unknown for David McNally to be a little tongue in cheek at times, which lends evidence to the idea that his tweet was a bad joke. His account being “hacked” is also a possibility, but again unlikely. Given how unlikely it was that his resignation was genuine, it came as no surprise to hear that he didn’t mean it.

In conclusion, I think McNally deserves a little slap on the wrist for this. It was a bad joke and an unprofessional thing to do. But for everyone else, the lesson is this: don’t take all tweets at face value, and don’t believe something just because it’s in the paper. On the ball city!