Substitute (soccer)

Fantasy football (soccer)

Fantasy football is a game in which the participants assemble a team of real life players and score points based on those players' actual statistical performance or their perceived contribution on the field of play. Usually players are selected from one specific division in a particular country, although there are many variations.

The original game was created by Fantasy League Ltd., and was first played the UK in 1991. It came to national prominence during the 1993/94 Premiership season when it was licensed as the UK's first-ever national fantasy football game in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Fantasy football has evolved in recent years from a simple recreational activity into a significant business due to exposure via the internet.


Most fantasy football leagues, especially those run by national newspapers, ask you to select 11 players within a price budget. There is usually a restriction on the number of players per club; a typical selection would be to select 1 goalkeeper, 4 defenders, 4 or 3 midfielders and 2 or 3 forwards. Some games are squad-based, where you choose not just a first XI but also a set of substitutes.

In smaller leagues played by a small group of people, players are bought by bidding between the rival managers rather than for a set amount of money. This means a particular player can only play for one team, and thus any points he accrues are credited to that team only.

Typically, most leagues offer the chance to transfer players in and out of the team as the season progresses, in case of injury, suspension or loss of form.

Points scoring

Points are then gained or deducted depending on players' performances. Points systems vary between games but typically, points are awarded for some or all of the following achievements.

  • Playing in a match (or part of a match e.g. at least 45 minutes)
  • Scoring a goal
  • Scoring a hat-trick (bonus)
  • Making an assist (the pass or touch leading to the goal)
  • Keeping a clean sheet (goalkeepers and defenders only)
  • Saving a penalty
  • Being rated highly in a newspaper report (e.g. 7 out of 10 or more)
  • Being Man of the Match

As well as the above, points can be deducted for some or all of the following:

  • Conceding a goal (goalkeepers and defenders only)
  • Receiving a yellow or red card
  • Missing a penalty kick
  • Scoring an own goal

The number of points each achievement or offence is credited with varies between different games.


The Times Newspaper and their website Times Online launched a different type of Fantasy Football game for the 2006–07 season entitled PlayTheGame. It was billed as "Fantasy Football with Brains" and was a new approach to the well established format.

PlayThegame is based around a mini league, where you compete directly against your friends rather than the rest of the world. Within each league you have a unique squad, so only one player in your mini league can have a given player. Player allocation happens through an NFL style draft, so you might not get everyone you want, but should still end up with a strong squad and then the opportunity to transfer players around.


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