EFL requests ‘full explanation’ from Twitter over Carabao Cup draw farce

Andre Ayew of West Ham in action during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2017 in London, England.

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.

1982 World Cup

- Sepp Blatter, general secretary of Fifa at the time, presided over one of the more farcical draws. Chaos ensued after a series of cock-ups which saw the balls representing Peru and Chile completely left out of the draw, Scotland were put into the pot Argentina should have gone into and the cage containing the balls jammed, with one even falling out and breaking.

2007 Scottish League Cup

- In perhaps the most extraordinary instance, Scottish Parliament presiding officer Alex Fergusson mixed up the numbers and miscalled the ties when drawing out just four balls. He announced that Rangers would play Aberdeen, while Hearts would face Dundee United. The actual ties were Rangers against Hearts and Aberdeen versus Dundee United. United chairman Eddie Thompson was furious, telling BBC Sport: "It's a total farce. I've spent four hours on the phone with Hearts arranging when the game would be played, where the game would be played and so on."

2013 Challenge Cup

- The draw for this competition has a recent history of howlers. In 2013 Radio 5 live presenter Richard Bacon mispronounced Workington as Woking Town and Hull KR were announced as playing two different opponents. Two years later, the figures on the number 10 ball fell off, while in 2016 the name of East Leeds ARLFC was read out twice and Stanningley's name was not read out at all.

Scottish Cup 2016

- Scottish FA officials were left red-faced again after being forced to re-do the quarter-final draw. Dumbarton and Dundee were waiting to find out who they would play, only for SFA president Alan McRae to notice that a ball had already popped open.

Scottish Cup draw 2016 - again!

- Rock star Rod Stewart conducted last season's fifth round draw with much, shall we say, enthusiasm. The singer caused a stir with his bizarre antics, appearing to jokingly prod SFA president Alan McRae under the podium and drawing each team with a flamboyant gesture. The Celtic fan bellowed out the numbers he had drawn and let out a cheer when he gave Brendan Rodgers' side a home tie. 

“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

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ed Aarons, for The Guardian on Thursday 26th October 2017 18.56 Europe/London

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