UKIP leader Nigel Farage and his top candidate in Scotland were mocked last night after admitting they could not name the country's football manager.

In an interview with the Sunday Herald, Farage added that he was not an "expert" on matters north of the Border, but insisted he had "leisured" in Scotland.

The party, which is opposed to the European Union and mass immigration, is being tipped for a historic victory in this month's Brussels parliament elections. The party has so far had no success in Scotland at any level, but candidate David Coburn is believed to have a chance of getting elected by riding on the Farage bandwagon - if Ukip polls 12% north of the Border, Coburn could become the party's first elected representative in Scotland.

However, the right-wing group has been torn apart in recent months by backbiting and factionalism. The internal process for selecting a European candidate was tarnished when six of the nine hopefuls quit amid allegations of unfairness. Farage removed Lord Monckton as Scottish party leader by email, party chairman Mike Scott Hayward quit in protest, and former chairman Paul Henke was suspended for 100 years.

Speaking to this newspaper at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange on Friday, where hundreds of protesters were outside chanting anti-racism slogans, Farage and Coburn spoke of the divisions in the party and their hopes for the future.

On Monckton's sacking, the Ukip leader said: "I didn't actually fire him. Our party chairman did. It's a team game, politics, and however big and important individuals are, or think they are, you've got to work together as a team."

Asked about Henke's 100-year suspension, which was later lifted, he said "I don't do discipline" and joked that he would have imposed a "tougher" penalty had he been responsible for the decision.

Farage's last trip to Edinburgh ended with him being bundled out of a pub in a police van after left-wing protesters interrupted his press conference.

Asked about the perception that he knows little about Scotland, Farage said: "I personally don't know much about Herefordshire, but we are standing [Ukip candidates] in Herefordshire."

Asked if he knew the name of the Scotland football manager, he said: "No, I don't, but I've done business in Scotland, I've leisured in Scotland. But I'm not an expert on Scotland."

Coburn also struggled: "It used to be Alex Ferguson, didn't it? I'm not a football fan, I'm a rugby fan."

So could he name the captain of Scotland's rugby team? "Currently, I'm not sure who the captain is."

Farage's public persona is of an eccentric, plain-speaking figure who stands outside the political class. However, in his role as an MEP, he employs his wife, a practice disliked by many members of the public. Will he continue to employ his spouse if he is re-elected this month?

"The rules won't allow me to go on doing that. So quite how that works … she'll have to do it unpaid, won't she," he said. Wouldn't that be illegal? "Probably," he joked.

Farage said he admired Alex Salmond, but could not understand the SNP's pro-Europe stance. He said of the similarities between the two party leaders: "I suppose we've led parties that are anti-establishment, insurgent parties."

Farage predicted a No vote in September's referendum, but criticised the official pro-Union campaign, saying: "The Better Together campaign don't appear to have made much impact."

SNP MSP James Dornan said: "This is an embarrassing own goal for Ukip which sums up just how little they know about Scotland. Along with their unpleasant views, it is why they will be relegated to the sidelines at the European elections in Scotland."