I talked the other day about what Barclay’s Fantasy Football was and tried to give a bit of an introduction to the game, but I’m not sure if the American fantasy football players reading this site were convinced. I wanted to make one more reference to Premier Fantasy Football and then I’ll shut up about the subject for a while. In that article, I discussed a few basics of the English Premier League and fantasy soccer. Today, I wanted to get a little more in-depth about fantasy football in the Premiership.
What Is Premier Fantasy Football?
Premier Fantasy Football is a fantasy sport based around Barclay’s English Premier League, once known as the Premiership. The Premier League is to English soccer what the NFL is to American professional football or the Major Leagues are to American baseball–it’s the big time. In fact, the English Premier League is arguably the biggest European football league in the world. Those who might argue the point would be the fans of the Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A. Since Manchester United, the most famous football club in the world, is in the English Premier League, England’s got the fame.
The history of Premier Football is a little more complicated than its NFL or NBA counterparts in the United States. From 1888 until 1992, the Football League First Division was the major leagues of English soccer.
In 1992, the First Division teams broke away from that league and signed a major television broadcasting contract, thus creating what was called the Premiership. This league last from 1992 until 2007, though the Football League continued to be involved on some level until 2004. After Barclays Bank began sponsoring the league, it became known as the Barclays Premier League.
Membership of the Premier League
The Premier League is a 20-team league based on a 38-game schedule, with 2 games between each team. Games are usually weekend affairs, though some weekday games are added into the mix. The entire season lasts from August to May, with some breaks.
Unlike American football, the membership of the Premier Football League is not set in stone. Every year, the 3 teams with the worst record are relegated to “Football League Championship”, which is somewhat like Triple A baseball would be in the United States. The next year, they’ll have a chance to win their way back into the Premiership, by placing either 1st or 2nd or winning a four-team tournament between the 3rd through 7th place teams, with three teams being promoted.
The process of relegation means that even last-place teams can have a lot on the line in the late stages of the season, unlike American sports teams, who are usually either “playing out the string” or positioning themselves for a high draft pick. Imagine if the NFL could relegate the Cincinnati Bengals; maybe Mike Brown would have to actually strive for excellence, or at least a higher level of mediocrity.
Fantasy Football in England
English fantasy football isn’t quite as popular as American fantasy football. Gridiron fantasy football in the USA is thought to have at least 30,000,000 yearly participants, while the English fantasy football has over 2,000,000 contestants. Since the United States has roughly 6 times more people, those 2 million fantasy football players in the UK would represent the equivalent of 12 million American fantasy football fanatics, so our hobby is roughly 2.5 times more popular in the states.
That means an American who doesn’t know a great deal about fantasy football in the United Kingdom might find he has an advantage learning the English game, since he’s from a country more fanatical about fantasy sports. All you have to do is learn the game of soccer, like everyone else in the world.
English Fantasy Football Scoring
Like fantasy football scoring in American football, it’s more than just goals scored in the English Premier fantasy game. Goals and assists are important, just like touchdowns are important in NFL fantasy football. But appearances also carry weight, while red cards and yellow cards count as points off. Also, defenders and goalkeepers get points for keeping a clean scoring sheet, while they have points deducted for goals allowed.
It probably doesn’t surprise you that defense is more important in Premier fantasy football. Unless you play in an independent defensive player or IDP league in American fantasy football, you’ll probably have one defensive player: Team Defense. But a typical weekly fantasy football squad in the United Kingdom’s version of fantasy football is going to have at least 4 defenders and a goalkeeper, 5 times as many players to factor in. So it pays to know everyone, not just the goal scorers: some of the midfielders and all of the strikers.
Premier Fantasy Sports
I’ll give you a word of warning: the season is long. NFL fantasy football tends to be four months long, unless you’re in a league that counts total points through the Superbowl. If you add in a month to six weeks for training camp and preseason, American fantasy football last for roughly 5 months of activity. Sure, real fans keep track of free agency in March, the NFL Draft in April, and OTAs in May and June, but these are sporadic happenings and you won’t have a lot of real news for months.
In Barclays Premier Fantasy Football, you’ll have a season lasting from August until May. Like the NFL’s playoffs and Superbowl, you won’t have to worry too much about the Champions League, but the 38-game schedule is going to keep you engaged most of the year. In terms of weeks spent following the sport, Premier Fantasy Football is more like MLB fantasy baseball or fantasy NASCAR.
But most American sports fans have wanted to learn a little something about English football at one time or another, whether it’s only every four years when the World Cup comes around, when US Womens Soccer Team plays in the Women’s World Cup Final, or only when someone famous like David Beckham signs with a US team. English Premier Fantasy Football is the best way to learn a new sport and enjoy your favorite hobby.
Last Edit: March 10, 2014