Fantasy Premier League has been a cause of concern for many Premier League clubs since February 21 when a bot leaked Aston Villa’s secret on Twitter.
Before then, reports that clubs’ team news was being revealed by a bot which operates from Norway has been on. But the reports gained momentum when the bot sent out a series of tweets confirming that Aston Villa’s talisman Jack Grealish was injured ahead of the club’s league match against Leicester City.
The series of tweets was a big deal because Aston Villa didn’t want to make public the fitness level of the England international. Hence, it became a big deal especially after the club ended up losing 2-1 to Leicester City.
According to a BBC report, the man behind the bot is a 32-year-old Norwegian who is identified as Henning. The man run a Twitter page named FPL Insider from Norway which currently has more than 32.6 thousand followers.
Henning’s bot scans out the Fantasy Premier League accounts owned by footballers, coaching crews, and other members of clubs. Whenever they make any update on their team’s setup, the bot automatically tweets about it.
It was reported that the tweets from the bot often give hints to opposition teams and Fantasy Premier League gamers. That is, if a real-life footballer or coaching crew who plays the online football game, transfers a player who is a teammate, it will be counted that such a player will not play during the match week, hence, the real-life club playing against such a team will prepare better ahead of the match.
This is seen as an undue advantage to the clubs whose team news is revealed through team selection on Fantasy Premier League which is often revealed by the bot. But in an interview with BBC Radio 1, Henning says he is sorry that he is not sorry.
How Henning’s bot became a threat to Fantasy Premier League
Henning designed an automated computer program that scans Fantasy Premier League accounts of staff, players, and junior players who are referred to as insiders.
When the insiders remove their teammates from their FPL lineup ahead of a match, Henning’s bot will detect it and share the information on Twitter automatically.
“I wondered if it was possible to check if Premier League players or staff connected to clubs had made any transfers in the FPL game,” Henning told the BBC Radio One.
“At the start, it was very manual and tedious. I had to spend hours on Google, LinkedIn, and Football Manager 21 to find staff and even junior players…
“It’s a lot different between the clubs because some of the clubs have almost official team leagues.
“Wolves have a league where it’s basically all the first-team players…
“Everton had funny names that you really had to be clever to find out who they were.”
Once he had identified his insiders Henning says he “just had to list it and create some logic in the bot to pick up the transfer activity and connect it to Twitter”.
Due to the new technology that can pick up information from Fantasy Premier League and share it on Twitter, the league body has warned clubs to advise their players and staff to avoid including their teammates on their FPL lineups in order not to give out vital information.
As of the time of publishing this report, no legal action has been taken against Henning and the Premier League has not banned real-life footballers from playing the online game.
Players of the Fantasy Premier League earn points based on the performance of the players they select in a real-life game. The gamers are expected to make their team selection at least 90 minutes before the first game of a match week.