Fantasy football

by Chris Bertram on August 16, 2004

As some of you may have noticed the new English football season is upon us. The BBC is running its “fantasy football game”: for the last time this season, and I’ll be entering as I usually do. There’s a facility to run a “mini-league”: consisting of friends, relations, enemies, critics, critical critics etc. So if any contributor, regular commenter or reader wants to join our league — the “Crooked Timberites”: — they are very welcome to do so. You have to “register”: with the BBC and choose your team first, and then email your PIN to me, the Chairman of the League, at . Those who know nothing whatsoever about football can always use the “lucky dip” facility to have the BBC computer pick a team for them. Try to register before 1230 BST on Saturday, 28 August 2004



Des von Bladet is very allez les bleus 08.16.04 at 6:39 pm

Bah! It is focussed on the inconsequential bourgeois nationaliste farce of the domestique league (“Premiership”, indeed!) when as any schoolchildren kno the Champions League – the League of Champions – is the competition wherein lies foopball’s destiny! The unfolding of the dialectique is inexorable; the World Spirit’s will inevitable!

Meanwhile, your ridiculous Engleesh league will of course be won – at a canter! – by the mighty Челсий.

Гто кого, silly Engleeshes, Гто кого!


John Quiggin 08.16.04 at 11:12 pm

Showing my faith in the efficient markets hypothesis, I have signed up for the lucky dip allocation.


dsquared 08.17.04 at 12:01 am

I’m going to wait until everyone else has picked a team then choose the most popular selections in order to benefit from the “Wisdom of Crowds” :-)


James Surowiecki 08.17.04 at 12:21 am

Actually, I’ve played the version of this game for years now, and I’ve always wanted to see how a team of the most popular players would do, but I haven’t been able to figure out any way to get all the information you’d need. Even if you could, it’d be imperfect — in many cases, the most popular players would still only be selected by a minority of the teams — but Yahoo used to list every week the top 20 or so most popular players, and at an eyeball glance they seemed to make up a pretty good squad. The other factor distorting this is that lots of people, especially early in the season, clearly pick players they’re fond of (Man U players were always overrepresented), rather than players who will actually help them win.


dsquared 08.17.04 at 12:33 am

I did have a system for Fantasy Football leagues which was based on trying to pick players who would play in every game of the season; the theory was that people tend to overpick glamorous show-ponies who get injured early on. But I moved jobs and thus out of our office pool before the season was over.

btw, James, email me; there’s a free book in it for you.


James Surowiecki 08.17.04 at 2:28 am

Will do, Daniel.

The buy-solid-starters strategy wouldn’t have the same effect in the Yahoo league, where you can turn over your team every week. But it’s definitely the case that it takes a while for people to recognize the virtues of good players on weak teams.


Another Damned Medievalist 08.17.04 at 8:03 pm

I usually play the soccernet version, but it’ll be much more fun playing with the Timberites. I think one of the worst parts of the big teams playing squad rotation is that it makes choosing a fantasy team really hard — ordinarily, someone like Duff would be a shoe-in, but not now …


Chris Bertram 08.17.04 at 8:11 pm

The BBC site seems to be playing up at the moment. So if I haven’t added you, or you can’t get in, that’s why.


Another Damned Medievalist 08.17.04 at 9:23 pm

Nope — still picking. It seems that the price list is somewhat out of order, in that they don’t provide a budget that allows one to pick Henry and anybody else of note. Not to mention that Malbranque costs more than Vieira???


Another Damned Medievalist 08.17.04 at 9:40 pm

D’oh! Signed up with my own name. Would fellow players be so kind as to keep me relatively anonymous? Cheers!

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