Review – Telegraph Fantasy Football

Telegraph Fantasy Football
Price: £6 per team or 2 for £10.
Private Leagues: Yes


* A big £1.1 million overall prize pot
* It has “Super League” private leagues
* A new “Super 20” round robin mini league
* A new £1 million “Perfect Starting XI” game
* A Champions League mini-season is offered in February with additional prize money


* It’s £6 per team
* Transfers require a password forcing you to dig around or buy the Telegraph each week
* FA Cup Games are included in scoring
* No assists awarded for penalties or own goals
* Bizarrely players score and lose points in FA Cup penalty shoot-outs
* Limited game stats and analysis tools
* Only available to UK residents

Game Rules

The basic game asks you to select a team of 11 players from the player pool, according to a budget of £50 million and in either a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation. Once you’ve made your selection you can make 30 transfers to your team over the season with a limit of 4 transfers per gameweek.

Players score 2 points for appearing in the starting 11 and 1 point for appearing as sub. A goal is awarded with 5 points while assists score 3 points. Clean sheets for Defenders and Keepers are awarded with 4 points for players starting the match and 2 points for a sub. Each goal conceded deducts 1 point from Defenders and Keepers. Bookings deduct 2 points from your players while 5 points are deducted for Red Cards.

To complicate things a little, 5 points are deducted from players who miss a penalty, while keepers that save a penalty gain 5 points. Bizarrely, this also applies to FA Cup penalty shoot-outs.

In addition 3 points are awarded to any player gaining a man of the match award as judged by the Telegraph journalist present at the game.

Points are scored in Premiership and FA Cup matches only.


First off, I’m not a fan of Fantasy Football games that include points for cup matches – particularly as squad rotation amongst clubs in cup competitions is rife.

The problem I have with the Telegraph game is not so much the fact that it includes FA Cup matches in its scoring system, but that misses, saves and goals in FA Cup penalty shoot-outs get scored. Should I be rewarded with a bunch of points just because my players are involved in penalty shoot-outs in the Cup? I don’t think so. The very prospect of losing a private league because a few of my rivals team were taken to penalties in the FA Cup final just seems completely bizarre and a major reason why I find it hard to recommend this game.

The Telegraph offer a pretty humble game in terms of options, support and stats when you consider it’s priced at £6 per team. Worst of all, the game includes an almost unforgivably cynical scheme when in comes to transfers. Yes, managers are given up to 30 transfers per season to tinker with, and you can make up to 4 of those per week. However, in order to actually make a weekly transfer you’re forced to buy the Daily Telegraph on the Wednesday of that week to get a password in order to login to the website. You can of course get the password off a mate or via the FISO forums but still, this is surely an unnecessary obstacle you’re forced to overcome when playing this game.

Elsewhere, the game is actually surprisingly easy in terms of initial team selection. There’s very few games that limit you to 11 players and yet allow you to pick so many top tier players. This relatively easy initial selection is a gift to solo players, particularly multiple-entrant managers looking to register a high number of teams with various configurations. However, in a private league situation, this can create very similar teams and a scenario where teams are just constantly juggling strikers in and out according to form and fixtures because they’re able to sign so many obvious top players in other positions.

As a solo player, you can expect to be up against multiple-entrant managers for the £50,000 top prize, although the number of transfers and lack of transfer windows often means these managers consider the You The Manager or Dream Team games as a better option. For this reason, the Telegraph game does offer the solo manager, who is only looking to register a couple of teams, a fighting chance to win some prize money. As for a possible private league game – the Telegraph certainly isn’t the worst option around but there are better

A new addition for the 2007-08 season was the “Super 20” mini-game which is effectively a mini-league that your team is drawn into along with 19 other random teams for the season. These teams then compete in head-to-head fixtures with points for a win, draw etc. It’s effectively identical to the Fantasy League’s new “Round Robin” mini-league and the Head to Head league introduced by the Fantasy Premier League game for the 2008-09 season which is of course a free game. In the case of the Telegraph, it is at least it’s another free offering for your £6 registration fee.

With £50,000 for the overall winner you’ll be wondering where that £1.1 million prize fund comes from. The answer is that £1 million of it is dedicated to the new “Perfect Starting XI” competition. You gain free entry to this on registering a side and to win you need to have an initial lineup that is as close to the end of season best starting eleven. That “perfect XI” must fit within the rules and restrictions of the game so it’s entirely possible to hit the jackpot here although there are variables that this throws up that will certainly prove interesting. How many managers for example will pick Ronaldo in their initial lineup even though he is not likely to appear for at least two months into the season. Such is Ronaldo’s scoring ability, he could well still make it into the best eleven come the end of the season. By inventing this game mode then, the Telegraph is in danger of distorting many a managers starting lineup. In my book it’s an unnecessary distraction from the meat of the game. I’d rather see the £1 million spent on the game proper.

One of the most unpopular moves last season made by the Telegraph was to restrict registration to UK residents only. Only those with postcodes based in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to play the game. This ruling remains for the 2008-09 season – a very odd move considering the wide appeal of Fantasy Football.

The Telegraph is certainly not my first choice as a solo or private league player. It’s expensive to play and yet offers a relatively small prize fund to the overall winner. That expense will put many private league players off, especially when there are better, free games available.

As I mentioned in my review of last year’s game, one of the few reasons to consider this game over others is the fact that the Telegraph were early adopters of Fantasy Football. They were instrumental in the game’s popularity back in the nineties. However, there are still superior games out there and when you’ve got limited funds for your fantasy football registrations there’s little room for sentimentality.