Why was the Fantasy Premier League 2019-20 winner deleted and denied title?

Fantasy Premier League FPL head in hands defeat
Getty/Premier League/Goal composite
The player who actually got the highest number of points was disqualified, but what was it all about?

Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is a ridiculously competitive online tournament where, in order to come out on top, you have to be better than over 7 million other dedicated players across the world.

However, this season, the FPL manager who finished top of the pile at the end of the campaign was not crowned champion and his profile was deleted.

Alexander Antonov's team amassed 2,575 points across the year to finish first out of over seven million players, but his achievement was rendered null and void by Fantasy Premier League organisers.

An official statement explained that Antonov's team was removed from the game "due to a breach of our terms" and the title was instead given to Joshua Bull, whose team 'The Bulldozers' earned 2,557 points.

"The English Premier League and FPL had a right to do what they did," Antonov said in a video broadcast on his YouTube channel in the aftermath. 

"It is their game, it's their rules, their prizes and, frankly, they had a good reason in their eyes to disqualify me that I can't really argue with."

So what exactly was Antonov's FPL disqualification all about?

The Guardian reported that the breach was related to alleged offensive comments made in a private group chat about Manchester City star Raheem Sterling.

Antonov has admitted on his Twitter account that the comment which resulted in his removal from the 2019-20 league was "a mean comment". 

In a series of tweets, he referred to the Bulgarian N-word and said that he was "ashamed and sorry" for his words.

"It may sound stupid, but I actually really don't condone racist behaviour," he wrote. "And this is not just for black people but all other races, from which I have had many friends especially when living in the UK.

"I do have to apologize to anyone that has taken as an offense against them or their friends on racial basis. I understand why this is."

In the video he shared on his YouTube channel, Antonov began by congratulating Bull on winning the the top prize - which includes VIP tickets to two 2020-21 Premier League games along with a number of other items - before trying to describe what had happened. 

"The reason for my disqualification was a moment of frustration with a player put into words between friends," he explained. 

Article continues below

"It was never meant to offend any footballer on any basis. It's not something I posted or said directly towards a footballer in the public eye with the aim to offend them. It wasn't something I shouted at a stadium."

The Bulgarian FPL aficionado added: "I've learnt a life lesson here: don't say bad things about someone in a private chat just because he's not there to read it."

While Antonov's team was removed from the 2019-20 edition of Fantasy Premier League, he says that the organisers will still allow him to enter the 2020-21 game, using the same profile, meaning he will have a chance to redeem himself next season.