Pep Guardiola says players who leak team news are “unethical and unprofessional” – but the Manchester City boss believes it can’t be controlled.
Leaks cause growing concern after news of Jack Grealish’s surprise absence came out ahead of Aston Villa’s Premier League game against Leicester City on Sunday.
Premier League players and staff across the country are now being warned of the potential risks of participating in the Fantasy Premier League.
Sky Sports News reported Monday that new software or “bots” have been used to analyze changes to teams made by people working at football clubs – information which is then automatically posted on social media.
A Twitter account, said to be based in Norway, generates an automated tweet when a player or staff member changes players at their own club.
In just over three weeks, the account highlighted more than 60 ‘transfers’ in and out of Fantasy Premier League squads owned by players and staff from more than half of the top clubs.
Guardiola says he is unfamiliar with fantasy football and does not participate, but he is aware that “the players are playing games”.
He added, “Sometimes when you have a team selection and people have friends from other teams, they talk about what they’re doing.
“Sometimes it does happen and it’s incredibly unethical and unprofessional, but cannot be controlled.”
PL players warned about the risks of fantasy football
Fantasy Premier League rules mean that participants must make changes to their team (substitutions or transfers) 90 minutes before the first game of any match week.
It could mean that information is released ahead of a game on a Friday night that hints at squad news of any Premier League team playing on a Saturday or Sunday – or worse yet, a full 73 hours before two teams play. in the Monday night football.
Now officials from several major clubs have said Sky Sports News that – although play has not been banned on training grounds – players and staff have been told to avoid including players from their own clubs in their fantasy league squads, so that they cannot inadvertently reveal confidential team news.
Sky Sports News approached all 20 Premier League teams to ask for their anonymous comments.
One club said a number of junior staff – such as those involved in statistical analysis or physiotherapy support – had no idea they had been targeted by the software, or that the changes of their fantastic team could be used to bring team news to others. .
Another club said team news was a closely guarded secret and that they would look into the matter again to make sure no opponent could gain a competitive advantage.
An official from an unnamed third club said he did not believe participating in the Fantasy Premier League was up to the standards expected of professional footballers, and that they would communicate that belief to the team and support staff .
A fourth club said Sky Sports News they are aware of the possible problems, but they hope that the recent publicity around the issue has “focused the minds” of their players and staff, whom they trust to use “common sense”.
A fifth club official said he applied new conditions to those who play the game at the club, as well as new guidelines on what to avoid.
Two other Premier League clubs told Sky Sports News they see no problem with the game and they would not make any changes to their rules or guidelines at this point.