There have been unsubstantiated claims on social media that three well-known football broadcasters allegedly have more than a million fake Twitter followers between them.
Robbie Savage, a pundit for the BBC and BT Sport who will be with 5 Live at the World Cup, is said to have an extraordinary 694,641 fakes among his 1.7m followers, according to Twitter Audit. The website is independent from Twitter and offers free or paid-for scans of users’ followers.
BT Sport football presenter Jake Humphrey is reported to have 318,207 fakes out of his 927,000 followers. And BBC Breakfast and Football Focus anchor Dan Walker, who is also part of the Beeb’s 2018 World Cup team, reportedly has 127,069 fakes among his 505,000 followers.
Robbie Savage has more than 1.7m Twitter followers but many are alleged to be fake accounts
Spokeswomen for BBC and BT Sport said the three broadcasters had personal Twitter accounts that were nothing to do with the TV networks.
But the trio all highlight their TV jobs on their accounts and regularly comment about them. Plus their large following would have helped to attract outside commercial work.
The Twitter Audit probe comes after Paul Hollywood, judge on The Great British Bake Off, deleted his Twitter account after a New York Times investigation found his name on a list of customers of little known US company Devumi, which sells Twitter followers.
There is no evidence that any of the three football figures have ever bought followers and all deny ever doing so either personally or through their representatives.
Many of fellow pundit Jake Humphrey’s followers are also fake, according to Twitter Audit
England manager Gareth Southgate, who surprisingly has allowed his World Cup players carte blanche to go on long-haul holidays, may not have any worries about Harry Kane playing golf in Bermuda. But can he say the same about Dele Alli taking a private jet somewhere on Tuesday?
The BBC pundit line-up for the World Cup, which includes stellar trio Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, looks marginally stronger than the ITV top three of Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs, which suffers from being too Manchester United-centric.
Plus BBC host Gary Lineker, provided he doesn’t lose the plot with his crass political comments on social media, can add his views to the mix.
However, some serious John Motson-style global football homework is needed as the Beeb quartet were surprisingly flummoxed when Gabby Logan, asking the questions at the BBC launch on Tuesday asked for some players who will emerge in Russia. Two that were given — Kylian Mbappe and Leroy Sane — are not exactly unknowns.
Rio Ferdinand will form part of an all-star BBC punditry squad for their World Cup coverage
Rio Ferdinand is such an accomplished media operator that he would have known exactly what he was doing in shamelessly plugging Michael Keane for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad at the BBC launch when the Everton defender is represented by Ferdinand’s own New Era Global Sports Agency.
New era of glasnost?
There will surely be no repeat of the England squad keeping details of their Euro 2016 in-house darts competition under wraps now that Joe Hart has missed out on the squad heading to Russia.
Hart said in France: ‘I’m not here to talk about darts.’ Gareth Bale’s response — ‘Right boys, do you want to know the table tennis results?’ — summed up just how different England and Wales were in dealing with the media.
Before one questions whether it was an appropriate use of licence fee payers’ money for the Beeb to stage their World Cup launch on the roof-top of hipster Ace Hotel in achingly trendy Shoreditch, at least they put on a bash.
ITV just sent out a press release about their World Cup team, questioning whether a launch was an efficient use of their budget and the difficulty of getting everyone together.
It is also unlikely that Sky would have wanted their star turn Gary Neville appearing at an ITV promotion.
It is very unlikely that Sky would have wanted Gary Neville appearing at an ITV promotion