Premier League staff on alert over Fantasy League 'insider' account
Written by Simon Austin — February 24, 2021
PREMIER LEAGUE backroom staff have been put on alert over a new Twitter account that monitors their activity in the Fantasy Premier League game.
This might sound trivial, but there is a legitimate concern at clubs that their employees could be inadvertently revealing important team and injury news via their activity in the game.
The account FPL Insider tracks the transfer activity of Premier League players and staff and has provided updates from most of the 20 clubs. Despite only having been set up at the start of this month, the account already has more than 27k followers - and rising fast.
It was set up by a 32-year-old Aston Villa fan called Henning, who lives in Norway, who told TGG he had set up a bot that "structures data and packages it into a tweet."
If you look down the FPL Insider timeline, you will find dozens of updates on the transfer activity of staff, along with their names and positions. The updates are posted within minutes of the transfer deadline for each round of the game.
FPL Insider came into the spotlight after last Sunday's game between Aston Villa and Leicester City, having flagged up the fact that several Villa staff and players had transferred talisman Jack Grealish out of their Fantasy Premier League teams. As predicted, the midfielder duly missed the 2-1 defeat.
Villa boss Dean Smith was left fuming after the game.
“I’ve been made aware that on social media there were some rumours that he wasn’t going to play,” he said. “If it’s coming out of our training ground, then I find out where it is coming from and reprimand where it’s coming from.”
Ben Dinnery, an injury data analyst for Premier Injuries and a Fantasy League expert, told TGG: “The person behind the account appears to have created an algorithm that scours the team IDs of players and staff at the Premier League clubs. This gives you the ‘insider’ information from each club.
“Finding out who was who at each club and their team ID would have taken some research, but the information is available if you look in the right places and there are several club leagues, with players and staff. Once you have the IDs the algorithm would do the rest.
"There’s a fanatical Fantasy League community on Reddit, eager for any information and tips they can get. I’d heard whispers about an ‘insider’ account a few weeks ago and it’s grown phenomenally fast in a short space of time.
“It’s obviously important, because (Leicester manager) Brendan Rodgers may well have changed his tactics once he heard that Grealish was likely to be absent.”
There are ongoing discussions about the issue at a number of clubs, although TGG is not aware of any that have banned their staff and players from playing the game - which would be the ultimate safeguard.
Henning of FPL Insider responded to TGG via direct message on Twitter and said: "Ben Dinnery is pretty much spot on in his comments about how the bot works. I am a massive Aston Villa fan, so the Grealish situation did not please me as much as you would imagine.
"I obviously do not control the findings of the algorithm. It mainly structures data and packages it into a tweet, meaning already available data is presented a bit more conveniently."
More than 8 million people are signed up to Fantasy Premier League and there are a number of spin-offs, some offering lucrative cash prizes.