Aston Villa has ordered players to stop competing in fantasy football competitions with the club fearing that Jack Grealish’s injury was leaked online, according to a report by The Times.
Grealish, who was left out of Villa’s Premier League clash with Leicester City after sustaining a ‘minor leg injury’, was transferred from teammates Matt Targett, Conor Hourihane and Neil Taylor’s top flight fantasy teams two days prior to the fixture, a social media account called FPL Insider tweeted out.
The England star was left out of the team for the first time in nearly 50 top flight games and missed training on the Wednesday before the game.
Millions of people, including professional footballers, play fantasy Premier League football, with teams selected from real players which are then substituted and sold, with points awarded for goals scored, assists and clean sheets, for example. Any changes made to team selections can be seen an hour before the first match in a round of fixtures.
When asked about the issue following the defeat to the Foxes, Villa boss Dean Smith said: “I was made aware on social media there were rumours he was not going to play.
“If that is coming out of our training ground I will find out where it is coming from and reprimand whoever it is coming from. It is something I would not be happy with.”
According to the UK newspaper, it is believed that a handful of Aston Villa players have their own fantasy football teams but have now been banned from partaking in the game.
Individuals within the club have expressed concerns about players using ‘inside knowledge’ to create their fantasy teams, suggesting it is ‘inappropriate’ for players to partake in the game nonetheless.
Other clubs may follow suit, with The Times suggesting that rival Premier League sides are now looking into players ‘compromising squad secrecy’ after the incident.