Okay, so here in fact is the story so far. Oliver Kay publishes a Times of London “exclusive” on a Qatari proposal to establish something called the “Dream Football League.” Soon after it emerges that French magazine Les Cahiers du Football published a clearly satirical story on a league proposal with the same name on March 10th, with very similar details, and the same promotional photo attached. Both Kay and the Times however stand by the story.
Yesterday a man on Twitter named Rob Beal claims he is one of Kay’s sources on the story (and also stands by it). I did some investigating and it seems Beal has a history of alleged fraud, including establishing a fake security agency in Paris, a place he did not reside in at the time. Beal claims to work for a company named ESM in Paris, but it’s clear Beal is still based in Sheffield, UK.
What We Know
After I published my findings yesterday, a number of UK journalists with leading newspapers reached out anonymously to report Beal had been in contact with them in the past with story information that in many cases could not be independently verified and so was rejected. So we know he has a history of doing this sort of thing. Several others recounted to me allegations that Beal had personally threatened them on occasion. He may have also been involved in several possibly fraudulent schemes to purchase various football clubs. I’m awaiting further information on this front.
We also know that Oliver Kay and many other major football journalists followed Beal on Twitter, including several figures within Ligue 1 and PSG. This, it should be noted, doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all.
We also know that Cahiers du Football is adamant the story came completely from their own imagination. Editor Jerome Latta wrote a blog post today explaining the saga, and he’s of the belief Kay was somehow duped by a duplicitous source.
We also know the Times late last night wrote a follow-up piece which claimed several clubs had “admitted privately yesterday to having been sounded out by intermediaries working on behalf of such a project.” Which, if the piece is a complete fabrication, is obviously odd.
I’m also aware of another source in France adamant that a plan similar to the DFL existed, and that the league would be proposed in June of this year. They would not reveal their source to me but said they’ve provided reliable info in the past. He would not confirm to me whether the plan was in fact called the Dream Football League. They know Rob Beal but not in connection to this particular story.
What we don’t know
Timing is very important in this. I’ve heard that Kay began work on this story on Sunday, but the CdF piece was published late Monday. I don’t know for certain that Beal is an actual source on this, or is just having fun (he’s apparently been shopping around odd info to various reporters). I don’t know if other papers were approached with similar claims and rejected them.
Finally, I don’t know any other sources on this.
I’ll start with the weak possibilities and move to the strong.
1) Les Cahiers du Football is lying and weirdly based their satirical story on some sort of truth, which was later accurately reported by Oliver Kay.
2) Kay’s story is completely based on the CdF story, fed to him by Rob Beal and other sources working in tandem.
3) Kay worked more than once source, and one of them, possibly Beal, fed him the details and photo directly from CdF. The others may have confirmed to Kay that Qatar had concocted a plan similar to the DFL, which may have come to light at the latest European Club Association meeting in Doha in early February. Just an odd form of happenstance.
Any further info would always be appreciated.
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Thomas Mueller answers questions over Bayern’s poor performance.
Bit and Bobs
The journey of Norwich’s Kei Kamara: From refugee to footballer.
Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.