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A high up source within the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) group, owners of PSG and according the Times report the “prime movers” behind the DFL, has just confirmed to me that the organization sent a cease and desist letter to Rob Beal—a source in the Oliver Kay story—in 2011 for falsely purporting to be a spokesmen for the club in an attempt to sell information related to rumours that David Beckham was on his way to Paris.

The source has a copy of the letter which Beal attempted to sell to various journalists in 2011. In it, he details how PSG was pleased to welcome Beckham and his family, and asked that quotes “only be used by media groups in France and the UK” and be attributed only to Beal’s group at the time. The source told me the letter looked flimsy, but that she says it’s possible it ended up reported on by more than one outlet as hard news.

You’ll recall the initial Times story said that QSI-owned PSG were “the prime movers” behind the Dream Football League.

Since beginning this story I have been inundated from off the record reports that Beal has a history of peddling false information to journalists, lately related to French football. Earlier today, the Times football editor Tony Evans told me that they stood by the story “…despite the involvement of Beal.”

“Despite the involvement of Beal”—a man who claims to work for an Paris-based media organization in France despite several eye-witness accounts he is permanently based in Sheffield, and who once attempted to pose as a spokesman for QSI in 2011 and profit from lucrative inside information.

No other sources have come forward to back up the DFL story…

Comments (21)

  1. Madness how Oliver Kay fell for this clown. He and Tony Evans need to get fired

    • There’s no shame in being duped, it happens to us all from time to time.

      What is disappointing is that they are standing by a story which increasingly appears to have no basis. It’s also worrying that the English sports journalism has collectively closed ranks.

      • There is a lot of shame in being duped especially if you write for a serious paper who is behind pay wall. And yes, A lot of journalists backed Oliver Kay, shame on them.

        I agree it’s embarrassing Tony Evans didn’t properly check the original story, instead Oliver Kay published 2 more DFL stories. Just hilarious, he’s as bad as that Rob Beal clown.

        • No Ronnie, the real shame is in the subsequent behaviour.

          As the saying goes, fool me once – shame on you…

      • These Rob Beal revelations are hilarious.

        The journos closing rank is hilarious and a scary at the same time. Matt Hughes’ “humility”. Ashling O’Connor apparently would rather believe that CdF had posted their article after The Times and backdated it, than accept that Kay’s been had. I guess Google cache and Facebook are also both in on the backdating conspiracy then, since they have the article and image timestamped before the Times article.

        This reminds me of (paraphrasing here) “China to buy Liverpool” (Kenny Huang) and “Man City prepare £50m Suarez bid” stories which was rubbished by City the next day.

        At least they’re not “The Metro”, who never seem to get anything right. Their “Liverpool have offered Raheem Sterling around a number of Championship clubs after making him available for a loan move.” story this week was spectacularly dumb, when the quotes in the same article said he needed a rest. This was of course rubbished by Rodgers as well, and it emerged later that a loan offer had in fact been rejected by LFC.

        Fox Mulder: “Trust no one”.

  2. I think it’s unfair to say English sports journalism has “closed ranks”. Ultimately, these are people they have to work alongside and potentially with in the future. What’s more, it is not sports journalists duty to cover the media. They cover the sport. Newspapers do actually have media correspondents, who cover this kind of thing. Additionally, such journalists would be sufficiently detached – and not too close the likes of such sports journalists – that they would be more capable of reporting it fairly. So I wouldn’t blame sports journalists for that.

    • I would…

      .

      • Why? it’s not their duty to report on themselves. They report on the sport. The media correspondents do that job. And that’s talking in a professional sense. In a personal sense, they’re obviously going to back a man they have witnessed do his job and, by all accounts, hasn’t illustrated this apparent sloppiness in the past.

    • The reason I say it is worrying is that we know that at least a number of other journalists also follow Beal on Twitter.

      Which begs the question, how many other stories has he managed to plant in UK papers?

  3. I know these are posted quickly but someone needs to edit stuff once they’re posted.

    • Typo? Let me know and ill fix it. Even Sully’s blog has typos on occasion. Pobody’s nerfect.

  4. I once asked a Times journo why they went pay wall, He said it’s because they deliver 100% reliable exclusives and that this was the reason they were getting paid better. Which is what makes me even more angry that having been a subscriber for 2yrs, The Times and their Football editor are ignoring Oliver Kay Follow up stories.

  5. One other point: I find it hard to believe Kay got the story Tuesday morning, flew to Munich, attended a press conference for the Arsenal game, wrote a piece on that, checked the DFL piece and then wrote it for that night. That would indicate he had it before then?

  6. @Richard

    This is the headline story on the BBC news website right now – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21796866

    Have you considered that maybe you’re writing about something which if it went public could easily alter the debate which is currently being had between the British press and government regarding media regulation?

    Cameron has said no to futher regulation (and last week this seemed to be somewhat politically astute) while the Lib Dems and Labour have said yes to more regulation.
    Yet another case of the media screwing something up boosts the Lib Dems and Labour in the polls and will quite possibly kill the Conservatives given that the various sides have already staked out their positions.
    The Times will also have to deal with far more regulation if that scenario ends up playing itself out and therefore they too have all the incentive in the world to make sure they suffer no major reputational damage in the next few days (including not being associated with alleged individuals) .

    Ever brought down a government before?

  7. “allegedly fraudulent individuals”

  8. “MPs will decide which version they prefer on Monday.

    The vote is expected to be close – and could have a profound impact on the way newspapers conduct themselves in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry.”

    From the BBC post above…

  9. On further thought, the government involvement angle is totally improbable given how much those estates dislike each other.
    The Times (and News Corp) one on the other hand is another matter. They stand to benefit – or at least, not lose – from no major tightening of the regulatory environment in the UK and therefore it’s in their interest that a story about journalistic incompetence or ethics doesn’t become big news right now just days before a major parliamentary vote.

    That being said, without proof, this is purely speculative and I’m guessing that anyone who definitively says otherwise would immediately be smacked down with a pretty massive lawsuit.
    All I can say is that that is where the incentives are pointing – whether or not anything unethical has happened in that regard is not something I can prove or disprove given the information I have access to.

    Three cheers for free speech, I guess…

  10. All irrelevant, Tony Evans has practically admitted they had a nightmare, only thing is left is whether uncle Rupert sacks Oliver Kay for getting duped and then following on the story as if it would help.

    At this point, I believe he’s damaged goods, I can see him get fired, His rep took a massive hit.

  11. Agence Transe Press yesterday allegedly called Times-Sport’s staff to ask, what they think about Murdoch’s plans to buy the government. They wouldn’t comment officially on this, but in private five top-secret sources said: We never heard of it, but prefer things to stay the same,
    ATP allegedly will come up with a huge scoop: The Times leads the opposition against Murdoch’s plans to buy the government.

    Congrats to you: great work.

  12. People get duped, it happens, nobody should stick the boot in over this.

    What I didn’t like was the attitude Kay and other football journalists took when they got called out on him being duped, the “oh trust me, I know this story is correct” just made him look like a fool. A bit of humility please guys.

  13. Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth was once a entertainment account it.

    Look complex to far introduced agreeable from
    you! However, how can we keep up a correspondence?

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