Paper links Liverpool to player who doesn't exist

Liverpool Football Club wanted to sign Didier Baptiste, left back for AS Monaco and the French under-21 national side, in a £3.5m move, it was reported this week.

Liverpool Football Club wanted to sign Didier Baptiste, left back for AS Monaco and the French under-21 national side, in a £3.5m move, it was reported this week.

The sporting world was shocked. And so it might be. The fancied Baptiste does not exist - he is a star of football fantasy. The transfer "scoop" is an embarrassing own goal for The News of the World, which broke the story in its "Soccer Secrets" column on Sunday, only to find out that Baptiste is in fact a character on Dream Team, a football-based soap show on Sky One.

He is a left back, to be sure, and French, too, but he is more likely to be found in the colours of Harchester Rovers - the fictional club at the centre of the programme.

Undeterred, The Times carried the story yesterday, having apparently picked it up from Liverpool's official Clubcall line, which had also put it out to its paying customers.

The gaffe is all the more embarrassing because the two newspapers and the TV station are all parts of Rupert Murdoch's media empire in Britain.

"Oops!" was the response from Keith Blackmore, sports editor of The Times, yesterday.

At The News of the World the finger of blame was pointed at Hayters, a news agency that specialises in providing sports stories to the national papers and began the Baptiste rumours. Executives there were investigating how such a thing could have happened yesterday.

At least part of the blame must lie with Baptiste himself, played by Tom Redhill, who made his first appearance on last Thursday's edition of the show. He revealed that he would "sign for an English club who have a French manager".

Liverpool, managed by Gerard Houllier, obviously fitted the bill, and the deal was duly announced. Even then The News of the World covered its back, saying that Houllier faced stiff competition from Arsenal's Arsÿne Wenger - the Premiership's other French manager.

Some at the newspaper do not seem to have fully appreciated the joke, or are intent on taking it further. "We think Didier Baptiste would be an ideal addition to Liverpool's back four," said Mike Dunn, the sports editor, yesterday. "He's a really attractive player, and you will be seeing a lot more of him in The News of the World."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests