A Sunday League football team from Canewdon in South Essex has been invited to play in the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League after the club achieved the highest score in the latest Europe-wide Fair Play Competition.

According to a UEFA spokesperson, over the last 24 months Athletico Canewdon FC Over 45’s have received the lowest monthly average of yellow and red cards anywhere on the continent, and under the current rules of the football confederation they have now been offered a place in world football’s biggest club competition.

Because of an admin error after the UEFA constitution was re-drafted last year, statistics have been gathered for every possible level of the football pyramid.

They will enter the competition at the group stages, meaning that they are practically guaranteed a money-spinning pair of matches against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Paris Saint Germain.

Team captain Dave ‘Cruncher’ Smith told Southend News Network that preparations were already underway to host some of the game’s global elite on their pitch at the Brett Angell Community Centre, located on the outskirts of the village.

He added: ‘Rochford District Council have already authorised our application to erect a temporary 42,000-seat stadium around our Canewdon Village pitch.’

‘Behind the scenes, we’ve also ordered a bigger tea urn from Argos, and we’ve painted over the changing room wall where someone has scrawled ‘Suzie Jones takes it up the wrong’un.’

‘Our boss has got some shrewd ideas once it all gets underway. He’s dragged out an old copy of Sensible Soccer and he’s been playing it for three days straight.’

UEFA spokesperson Jerome Robsonne told Southend News Network that it was too late to rectify the error, meaning that by law the £100m place in the group stages must be awarded to the team.

He added: ‘The team only receives an average of one yellow card per every five matches, and this is mainly because most of them have arthritis and cannot initiate a tackle.’