How Has the Fantasy Premier League Grown From Entertainment to Serious Business?

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Only when you remain without something you realize how much you miss it. We have always imagined what it would be like but we have never before experienced a moment when sports just suddenly disappear from our lives as it was in the spring of last year. It especially applies to soccer, which is called “the most important of the unimportant things in life” (as legendary Italian coach Arrigo Sacchi said once) for a reason. But there was an incident, a global coronavirus pandemic that stopped not only soccer but the lives of many of us.

The English Premier League, one of the most popular sports competitions in the world, stopped for 3 months last year, and the famous Fantasy stopped with it. We bet there are few among you who have sports in their blood who have never heard of the FPL before, which is an acronym derived from the Fantasy Premier League. It is by far the most popular game of its kind in the world, which has experienced a real expansion in recent years and has become a lucrative business for the best and most dedicated people to soccer. How? We will explain a little later. First of all, for those who still do not know what it is all about, let’s clarify what Fantasy is?

So, What Is Fantasy?

It is a virtual game in which participants create imaginary teams composed of real football players who get points depending on the performance on the pitch in real matches they play. Players from one league and one country are usually chosen, although there are other (less popular) variations with UEFA competitions, European Championships, and World Cups or with other sports (NBA, NFL...). However, hardly any of these other sports can be compared to the FPL, which is played by over 7 million people from all parts of the world every season.

The father of Fantasy, of course, comes from the cradle of football. He is the Englishman Bernie Donnelly, who created it one summer Saturday on August 14, 1971, under the name “Donnelly Fantasy Football League”. And even after almost 50 years, this game is an integral part of the lives of many guys (and girls) across the world. To clarify it right away, it does not have to mean that FPL is typically male entertainment as there are a lot of girls around the world who are serious about this game.

Thanks to the expansion of the Internet, Fantasy has evolved in recent years so, from simple recreation and entertainment, as Donnelly saw it half a century ago, it has reached the status of a lucrative and serious business. And that for the resourceful ones.

Fantasy Is Also Played in Money

There are several variations of how mini-leagues turn into cash prize fights, and that is kind of a good thing because when you get into the story and put in your money, then you actively follow the league and change lineups on time, plan transfers, do not miss deadlines, and thus the league is alive and competitive.

The standard variant of playing Fantasy for money, and that is what you have probably heard from those who play it for some time now, is that all participants put in the same amount of money, so the winner at the end of the season (whoever collects the most points) takes it all. Of course, there are also variants when the first-placed, second-placed, and third-placed reciprocally divide the total fund, with the first-placed, logically, receiving most money as he/she finished as the best. 

It is important to point out that those who manage the FPL follow the complete situation well and know that many players like to ‘turn the money over’ through their popular game, so a few seasons ago they came up with an idea to, in addition to mini-leagues, add the option of “head-to-head” leagues, which operate on the principle of mutual face-offs of players for which points are also obtained and a special table is created after each round. And those H2H leagues have also become lucrative for gambling.

Average Bet Amount

It seems that everything in Fantasy revolves around the famous 50 euros (about $ 60), a sum that has become a kind of trademark when it comes to the average bet in this game (that is how much is the average chip for H2H as well), and passionate gamblers, who also adore the FPL, came up with a new bet related to this game last year. It is called “50 euros - a point” and is by far the most lucrative of all variants of playing for money. What is this exactly?

It is a bet according to which, on the eve of the season, you choose one rival with whom you compete throughout the season, i.e. throughout 38 rounds of the duration of the Premier League. When you play all rounds and collect points in the end, the one who has fewer points owes the other one 50 euros per point of difference. So, if you lost to a rival with say 75 points difference at the end of the season, then you pay him exactly 3,750 euros. Simple as that.

This is one of the most popular Fantasy variants in the world at the moment among those with a deeper pocket but there is no doubt that passionate fans of this game will come up with a new way of playing for money in the years to come, to make watching the Premier League more interesting and dynamic.

Bookmakers Have Recognized the Interest in This, Too

It is also important to say that many bookmakers around the world have not remained immune to the expansion and popularity of the Fantasy Premier League. For several years now, odds have appeared in the world’s most famous Mastercard betting sites at Bookmaker-Expert.com for predicting the number of points that individual soccer players will achieve in Fantasy in one round.

So, just like when you predict NBA players’ performance in betting sites and their Unders and Overs, here you guess whether some of the most popular players (Salah, Mané or De Bruyne) will go over, usually 8.5 points, which can be reached by scoring a goal and “clean sheet” (English term for a match in which one team does not concede a goal).

You Don’t Need to Be a Soccer Expert

What may be important to note is the fact that you do not necessarily have to be a soccer expert to be a good Fantasy player. There are a lot of them who do not even like soccer much but live for the FPL and cannot wait Saturday afternoon when matches usually take place. Also, Fantasy has little to do with real soccer, which is played across England, so some Premier League stars like Fabinho, Jorginho, or Fernandinho, no matter how good and useful they are on the pitch for their teams, do not have much value in the FPL because they do not participate in their team’s attacks so often.

The Fantasy benchmark is exclusively goals and assists for strikers and midfielders, and clean sheets for goalkeepers and defenders, so many opt more for the most famous players we have already mentioned (Salah, Mané, or De Bruyne) who bring expected points to their teams in almost every round.

Players have at their disposal a large number of specialized websites and YouTube channels that deal with this topic, and many who play FPL at the top-level claim that the British Fantasy Football Scout, who has nearly 62k subscribers, helps them the most. It is a community where you get the best possible advice and predictions for only 20 euros and which is constantly updated.

Of course, like everything in this world, Fantasy has its dark side. The FPL can cause addiction, stress, loss of free time, development of hatred towards colleagues and friends, as well as an aversion to football in general, so it is advisable to play it carefully. On the other hand, Fantasy is also a great pleasure and if the right balance between love and hate is found, it can be an exciting adventure. Especially when you make good money on it...


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