"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;"
As to Autumn, so to football; to the Premier League, FPL and FFUK.
Each new season brings with it it’s cups, and FFUK is no exception. This season, as we had planned for last, will feature three. The season is somewhat truncated, losing as we have the month of August, so these cups will be upon us more immediately than would otherwise be the case. Hence, while finer details, such as prize money, will need to be confirmed in due course, once all membership fees are in and the number of entrants is known, I thought it was worth setting out how the competitions will work this season.
For those who were involved in FFUK last season this will all sound very familiar as we’re keeping things almost exactly the same! With the giant caveat that all this presupposes no Covid-related or similar force-majeure intervention!
The main FFUK cup competition is the FFUK Cup. This is our FA Cup. Every team in the League qualifies. The cup is uses a straight knock-out format, with each tie taking place over a full gamemonth (as defined by FPL Towers), and winners determined by their scores in those gamemonths. The first round proper will take place during the October gamemonth, with the final taking place in May. The first round requires exactly 256 entries. As we are slightly short of that number a requisite number of byes will be drawn to make up the difference. Each round will have an accompanying random draw, like the FA Cup. We intend for the draws to be “televised” live via YouTube, like last season, usually in the week leading up to the start of each round, once the winners from the previous round are known.
Our secondary cup competition, our Carabao Cup if you will, is the Milk Plate. This, as with a traditional plate competition, is for those that lost their first round ties (including the byes). It’s a second-chance saloon for those who happened to have an off-gamemonth, or were unlucky enough to come up against one of the month’s high-scorers. Note: there is no third-chance saloon! The Milk Plate starts in November with a round of 128. All the losing teams from the FFUK Cup first round are seeded based on their October scores, with the byes assigned a value of zero. Seed #1 plays seed #128, seed #2 plays seed #127 etc. The draw is calculated right the way through to the final, in a Wimbledon-style format, such that, if they progressed that far, the four top seeds would not meet each other until the semi-finals (#1 playing #4 and #2 playing #3). As with the FFUK Cup, ties are determined by gamemonth scores as defined by FPL.
A couple of things to note:
- Our scoring system follows the published FPL gamemonth scores which means that hits taken in the first gameweek of a gamemonth DO NOT get subtracted from the total gamemonth score – however hits taken in successive gameweeks do.
- In the event of a tie, the winner is determined by countback using scores recorded for the previous gamemonth – continuing back through the gamemonths as required. In the unlikely event that the participants recorded exactly the same gamemonth scores all the way back to September, the winner will be decided, first by overall rank (which might be different depending on hits) and then by who has the better team name, as determined by me! Unless I’m one of the participants, in which case the mantle will be passed to the FFUK community for a vote.
September is but a three-week gamemonth, providing far less preparation for the cups that we have had in the past. This may or may not affect your thinking as you evolve and adapt your squads in these early stages of the season. Indeed, it may add another (as if we needed another!) element of complexity into our thinking ahead of gameweek 4 – the week when a number of teams’ fixtures turn, the week before an international break, in the thick of wildcard season ….
"Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;"
Our third cup is the FFUK Champions League. Due to be launched last season, it was unceremoniously dumped due to the hiatus caused by the pandemic. So we start again anew, but with a format largely unchanged from what was planned last season. I’m not going to lie – it’s quite complicated! Our Champions League seeks to replicate, as precisely as possible, the real-life version. However, the qualification process for the Champions League is almost impenetrably complex, so don’t blame me blame UEFA! The FFUK Champions League will kick off in gameweek 26 and conclude in gameweek 38. This gives managers a number of avenues to qualify between now and when qualification closes after gameweek 24.
In total 78 teams qualified for the 20/21 UCL. 26 of these qualified automatically for the group stage with the other 52 enduring a series of convoluted qualification rounds for the remaining 6 places. So 78 FFUK Managers will qualify for the FFUK Champions League. Each will be assigned one of the 78 real-life teams, and follow the same qualification and competition process that their assigned team will have needed to follow.
There are a number of ways to qualify:
- Finish in the top 20 in FFUK in the preceding season*
- Win a cup competition in FFUK in the preceding season**
- Win the Junior FFUK Championship in the preceding season***
- Win manager of the month (five in total, September – January)
- Record the top gameweek score in FFUK during one of the gameweeks 1-23 inclusive
- Be in the top five FFUK new entrants in season 20/21 at the end of gameweek 24
- Be top of the FFUK Junior Championship in season 20/21 at the end of gameweek 24
- Advance to round 6 of the FPL Cup (still be in it after gameweek 21 closes)
- After the above, any remaining places will be awarded to the highest scorers in gameweek 24
A couple of additional things to note:
- You can only qualify once!
- Should a manager qualify via one of the above avenues that has already qualified via another method, the qualification place DOES NOT pass to the next Manager along. For example, if a Manager who qualified as one of last season’s top 20 winsa manager of the month award, the place does not pass to the manager who came second in that month – you must qualify by right.
- Should two or more managers tie for a qualification place (e.g. tie for highest gameweek score) ALL those managers qualify – there is no form of tiebreaker to distinguish them.
I’ll provide regular updates throughout the season detailing who has qualified and the remaining avenues left to qualify. There will be more details about exactly how the competition will work when we make the all-important draw sometime between gameweek 24 closing and gameweek 26 commencing.
I leave you with one final thought, as we balance the often competing priorities of League and Cups:
"My restless spirit never could endure
To brood so long upon one luxury,
Unless it did, though fearfully, espy
A hope beyond the shadow of a dream"
With thanks to John Keats, and good luck to everyone in FFUK this season.
* The top 20 in FFUK 19/20 were as follows: Grant Lawrie, Paul Baker, Jamie Stewart, John Parkinson, Tim McEwan, Justin McCarthy, Pete Cronin, Damen O’Neill, Jamie Stephens, Nick Johns, Ben Carter, Jordan Davison, Samuel Breen, Chris Webb, Steve Coffen, Dean Cummings, Richard Green, David Harrison, Peter Hayes, Stan Packham
** The cup competition winners in 19/20 were as follows: John Willson (FFUK Cup) and James Downie (Milk Plate)
*** The FFUK Junior Champion in 19/20 was: Theo Allen