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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee