For fans of the eight clubs still involved, it was the moment they had been waiting for all day. Featuring Question of Sport captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell, the draw for the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup had been heavily trailed to take place at 4pm on Thursday in a live stream from Twitter’s headquarters in London.
After a series of mishaps including the draw for the first round descending into farce when Charlton appeared to be paired with both Exeter and Cheltenham, followed by widespread bemusement when the Thai energy drink company decided to hold the third-round draw in Beijing at 4.15am UK time, surely nothing could go wrong this time?
At 3.30pm, everything seemed to be in order, with the competition’s official Twitter account showing the former England rugby union star Dawson and former England cricketer Tufnell posing for a selfie alongside the trophy. But as the appointed hour ticked round, something was clearly up. “Final preparations are under way at @Twitter HQ, #CarabaoCup Round Five draw coming up shortly,” read the post at 4.01pm, followed by confirmation that the day’s big event had been delayed until 5pm owing to “a minor technical glitch at Twitter HQ”. 5pm came and went but still no news. “Twitter engineers continue to work on the problem. The EFL will be bringing you the draw as soon as is practically possible,” came the update at 5.14pm. Whatever the “minor technical glitch” was, it was causing major embarrassment.
Then, a whole 105 minutes late at 5.45pm, came the message that the draw had taken place. “Take a look at the pre-recorded video and see who your team got,” urged the post.
“Apologies for being late, we know you’ve been waiting around for quite some time,” began presenter Sam Matterface. “Thanks for sticking with us – we will get it right, I promise you.”
Having offered the EFL’s “condolences to the Thai people” on the day of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s funeral, the “two icons of British sport” finally got down to business, drawing Chelsea against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal v West Ham, Leicester v Manchester City and Bristol City – having reached this stage for the first time since 1989 by beating Crystal Palace – against Manchester United.
It all seemed like a bit of an anti-climax in the end, although keeping the four biggest teams remaining apart in a pre-recorded draw was not exactly going to keep the conspiracy theorists quiet.
“The EFL would like to apologise for a number of third party technical issues that affected coverage of today’s previously advertised Carabao Cup round five live draw at Twitter HQ,” read the swiftly released statement from the competition’s governing body. “The EFL has received an apology from Twitter UK for the delay which is believed to have occurred as a result of a faulty encoder. The EFL has requested a full explanation into the events that led to this afternoon’s unacceptable delay.”
Twitter also apologised to supporters via its UK Twitter account. A spokesman said: “We’re sorry for the issues that led to the delay of today’s draw. We would also like to apologise to the thousands of supporters who had been patiently awaiting news of who their team would be playing.”
Fifth round draw in full: Chelsea v Bournemouth; Arsenal v West Ham; Leicester v Manchester City; Bristol City v Manchester United.
All ties to be played in the week commencing 18 December
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