Players and staff at Premier League clubs are being warned about the potential risks of taking part in the Fantasy Premier League; it comes after recent high-profile cases where team news could have been leaked to opponents.
Sky Sports News reported on Monday that new software or “bots” have been used to scan any changes made to teams by people who work at football clubs – information which is then automatically published on social media.
The rules of Fantasy Premier League mean participants have to make any changes to their team (substitutions or transfers) 90 minutes before the first match in any game week.
That could mean information being released before a game on a Friday night, that hints at the team news of any Premier League team playing on a Saturday or Sunday – or worse still, a full 73 hours before two teams play in the Monday Night Football.
Now, officials at several top clubs have told Sky Sports News that – while the game hasn’t been banned within training grounds – players and staff have been told to avoid including players from their own clubs in their fantasy league teams, so they can’t inadvertently reveal any confidential team news.
Sky Sports News has approached all 20 Premier League teams to ask for their anonymous feedback.
One club said that a number of junior members of staff – such as those involved in statistical analysis or physio support – had no idea that they had been targeted by the software, or that their fantasy team changes might be used to give team news clues to others.
Another club said that team news is a closely guarded secret, and so they would look at the issue afresh to make sure no opponent could gain a competitive advantage.
An official at a third unnamed club said they didn’t think taking part in the Fantasy Premier League was in-keeping with the standards expected of football professionals, and they would be communicating that belief to the squad and support staff.
A fourth club told Sky Sports News they are aware of the potential pit falls, but they hope recent publicity around the issue has “focussed the minds” of their players and staff, whom they trust to use “common sense”.
A fifth club official said they have applied new conditions to those within the club who play the game, as well as new guidance on what to avoid.
Two more Premier League clubs told Sky Sports News they do not see any problem with the game, and they wouldn’t at this stage be making any changes to their rules or guidance.