The Blue Square Premier division — formerly the Football Conference, the 5th tier of English football — is not known for high-standards on the pitch.
But it wouldn’t be unfair to expect professionalism off it.
Yet, the league’s sponsors, Blue Square, seem hell bent on making it hard for themselves.
All through last season, fans from Blue Square Premier (BSP) clubs were taking part in local keepy-uppie competitions. Two fans would go on to compete in the final at Wembley, taking place the same day as the playoff final.
So far, so good, and the prize money was a massive £100,000 for the winner, plus £20,000 to his favourite BSP team.
It got to final day. The two keepy-uppie hopefuls were led onto the pitch to compete one last time. But, and here’s the crucial bit, the competition was changed. No longer was man vs man in keepy-uppie. Nope! Instead, each person had to try and kick a ball into a blue square. The players were one penalty area, the box was on the half way line.
In short, while not impossible, it was very, very, difficult. Believe it or not nobody won the prize, and the £120,000 stayed in the pockets of Blue Square.
Both clubs complained about the game, and Blue Square responded:
“Although the final game was difficult, it wasn’t impossible, and from a Blue Square point of view the prize money was insured to the extent that a winner would have been more beneficial to the overall competition. We were genuinely cheering on every single finalist in the hope that they would manage to scoop the prize.”
I bet you were.
But wait, there’s more.
Over on their official BSP website, their journalists have been hard at work. Yup, hard at work getting things wrong.
Take a look at this: a cock-up of epic proportions. Here’s what went wrong:
1. The journalist used the internet as his/her sole source, and didn’t fact check
3. The football fan in question supports Cambridge United — and the article focuses on the money troubles of Histon FC. So, the fan would have no inside links there (presumably. And you’d check, wouldn’t you?)
4. Histon FC and Cambridge United are fierce rivals. They are about 10 miles apart, if that.
So the journalist used an unverified source, from a website written by a fan of a rival club. Great work.
The saga gets deeper when you realise that the apology was made after a complaint from Histon — rather than the journalist finding out it wasn’t false. The importance of that? I’d say it’s unfair to brand a website, even a fan-written one, as inaccurate if you don’t actually check.
But, on the plus side, the site reports today that one of Cambridge’s top strikers, James Constable, has been called up the the England C squad.
Shame that James Constable in fact plays for Oxford United, and has never played for Cambridge in his life.
[EDIT: The James Constable error has been corrected. I wonder if they check the web to correct their errors too?]