5th April 2021: Qualifying Update
Since my last update the first and second qualifying rounds of the FFUK Champions League have been completed. The following were the results of the first qualifying round:
|Celtic (SCO)||Grant Lawrie||53||vs||66||KR Reykjavik (ISL)||Jordan Davison||Jordan Davison|
|Legia (POL)||Fabian Mascoll||39||vs||40||Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart||Jamie Stewart|
|Ferencváros (HUN)||Luay Alfaham||46||vs||50||Djurgården (SWE)||Harvey Smith||Harvey Smith|
|Crvena zvezda (SRB)||justin Mc Carthy||49||vs||58||Europa (GIB)||Ameet Shah||Ameet Shah|
|Sheriff (MDA)||John Stevens||46||vs||60||Fola (LUX)||Joseph Mulhern||Joseph Mulhern|
|Connah’s Quay (WAL)||Chris Smith||54||vs||47||Sarajevo (BIH)||Steven Almond||Chris Smith|
|Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)||Nick Maston||69||vs||45||Ludogorets (BUL)||Duncan Galloway||Nick Maston|
|Floriana (MLT)||David Harrison||56||vs||60||CFR Cluj (ROU)||John Harper||John Harper|
|Ararat-Armenia (ARM)||Andrew Fogaty||56||vs||38||Omonia (CYP)||Tom Ryan||Andrew Fogaty|
|Dinamo Brest (BLR)||Tom Henshall||50||vs||46||Astana (KAZ)||Dan Hepworth||Tom Henshall|
|Qarabağ (AZE)||Joseph Colliass||59||vs||54||Sileks (MKD)||Jamie Stephens||Joseph Colliass|
|M. Tel-Aviv (ISR)||Steve Smith||35||vs||60||Riga (LVA)||Danny Burgess||Danny Burgess|
|Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)||Kaine Sinclair||38||vs||45||Tirana (ALB)||Dean Cummings||Dean Cummings|
|Molde (NOR)||Lewis Bell||46||vs||45||KuPS (FIN)||Paul Taylor||Lewis Bell|
|Celje (SVN)||Samuel Breen||45||vs||44||Dundalk (IRL)||Chris Webb||Samuel Breen|
|KÍ (FRO)||Damien O’Neill||51||vs||43||Slovan Bratislava (SVK)||Josh Paxman||Damien O’Neill|
|Flora (EST)||Sean Colohan||52||vs||57||Sūduva (LTU)||Rob Harding||Rob Harding|
… and the second qualifying round played out as follows:
|KR Reykjavik (ISL)||Jordan Davison||41||vs||48||Djurgården (SWE)||Harvey Smith||Harvey Smith|
|CFR Cluj (ROU)||John Harper||53||vs||62||Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)||Nick Johns||Nick Johns|
|Young Boys (SUI)||Craig Smith||53||vs||42||KÍ (FRO)||Damien O’Neill||Craig Smith|
|Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart||66||vs||47||Ararat-Armenia (ARM)||Andrew Fogaty||Jamie Stewart|
|Sūduva (LTU)||Rob Harding||40||vs||37||Riga (LVA)||Danny Burgess||Rob Harding|
|Celje (SVN)||Samuel Breen||18||vs||68||Molde (NOR)||Lewis Bell||Lewis Bell|
|Dinamo Brest (BLR)||Tom Henshall||35||vs||45||Connah’s Quay (WAL)||Chris Smith||Chris Smith|
|Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)||Nick Maston||28||vs||40||Midtjylland (DEN)||Tom Page-Chatton||Tom Page-Chatton|
|Tirana (ALB)||Dean Cummings||35||vs||47||Europa (GIB)||Ameet Shah||Ameet Shah|
|Qarabağ (AZE)||Joseph Colliass||39||vs||54||Fola (LUX)||Joseph Mulhern||Joseph Mulhern|
|AZ Alkmaar (NED)||Matt Baldwin||29||vs||43||Plzeň (CZE)||James Downie||James Downie|
|PAOK (GRE)||Mark Leathem||50||vs||50||Beşiktaş (TUR)||Richard Green||Mark Leathem|
|Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO)||Peter Hayes||37||vs||37||Rapid Wien (AUT)||John Parkinson||John Parkinson|
The second qualifying round saw two draws, in the bottom two matches, which were decided by overall rank. The competition rolls on to the third qualifying round taking place in Gameweek 30.
12th March 2021
*** NEWSFLASH ***
A change to the rules for the Champions League: Hits WILL NOW BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT when calculating weekly scores. The new export to excel function from LiveFPL makes this very easy to do, and it’s felt that the integrity of the competition is better maintained by taking hits off total scores. This change would not have affected the preliminary round results. It will be effective from the first qualifying round.
12th March 2021
|Club||Manager||Points||Points||Club||Manager||Winning Club||Winning Manager|
|Tre Fiori (SMR)||Steven Coffen||74||vs||110||Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart||Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart|
|Drita (KOS)||Ben Wright||89||vs||92||Inter Club De Escalades (AND)||John Gleeson||Inter Club De Escalades (AND)||John Gleeson|
|Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart||66||vs||66||Inter Club De Escalades (AND)||John Gleeson||Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart|
FFUK Champions League Preliminary Round was contested over the course of GWs 26 and 27. The semi-finals saw victories for Jamie Stewart (comfortably) and John Gleeson (marginally). There were ABSOLUTE SCENES in the final with the tie ending in a 66-point draw. The terms of the competition dictate that the winner be decided on the basis of overall rank which Jamie shaded 1819 v 1785. Hard luck John! Jamie Stewart, and his Linfied minnows, progresses to face Fabian Mascoll in the first qualifying round:
|Celtic (SCO)||Grant Lawrie||vs||KR Reykjavik (ISL)||Jordan Davison|
|Legia (POL)||Fabian Mascoll||vs||Linfield (NIR)||Jamie Stewart|
|Ferencváros (HUN)||Luay Alfaham||vs||Djurgården (SWE)||Harvey Smith|
|Crvena zvezda (SRB)||justin Mc Carthy||vs||Europa (GIB)||Ameet Shah|
|Sheriff (MDA)||John Stevens||vs||Fola (LUX)||Joseph Mulhern|
|Connah’s Quay (WAL)||Chris Smith||vs||Sarajevo (BIH)||Steven Almond|
|Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)||Nick Maston||vs||Ludogorets (BUL)||Duncan Galloway|
|Floriana (MLT)||David Harrison||vs||CFR Cluj (ROU)||John Harper|
|Ararat-Armenia (ARM)||Andrew Fogaty||vs||Omonia (CYP)||Tom Ryan|
|Dinamo Brest (BLR)||Tom Henshall||vs||Astana (KAZ)||Dan Hepworth|
|Qarabağ (AZE)||Joseph Colliass||vs||Sileks (MKD)||Jamie Stephens|
|M. Tel-Aviv (ISR)||Steve Smith||vs||Riga (LVA)||Danny Burgess|
|Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)||Kaine Sinclair||vs||Tirana (ALB)||Dean Cummings|
|Molde (NOR)||Lewis Bell||vs||KuPS (FIN)||Paul Taylor|
|Celje (SVN)||Samuel Breen||vs||Dundalk (IRL)||Chris Webb|
|KÍ (FRO)||Damien O’Neill||vs||Slovan Bratislava (SVK)||Josh Paxman|
|Flora (EST)||Sean Colohan||vs||Sūduva (LTU)||Rob Harding|
Good luck to the 34 teams contesting the ties.
19th February 2021
Gameweek 24 is now complete and with Gameweek 25 just minutes away as I write, I thought it was worth updating on the final qualifiers for the FFUK Champions League. Note this doesn’t start until Gameweek 26, so we have some breathing space to get the draw done and for everyone to get the Champions League game faces on! The first 62 qualifiers are listed below and they haven’t changed so I’ll just add here the final 17 managers who have qualified via Gameweek 24. This was the final opportunity to qualify and went to the top 17 managers in Gameweek24, who had not already qualified via other means. Due to eight teams having already qualified, the 25th highest scoring manager Fabian Mascoll made it through with 105 points, edging out three managers with 104 who hadn’t qualified. Fortunately it didn’t need to go to a tie-breaker. The full list of Gameweek 24 qualifiers is as follows:
Look out for the draw over the coming days, and check out all the details on the FFUK Champions League google sheet.
12th February 2021
I write on the eve of Gameweek 24, the final week of qualifying for the FFUK Champions League. Most of the 79 places available have already been secured – just 17 places remain to be filled. With the automatic slots now taken, it’s just the final last ditch mad scramble. Those 17 places will go to the top 17 teams in FFUK in GW24 (among those who have not already qualified) and get this ….. hits don’t count. This is no-holds-barred, let me in and I don’t care what I have to do to get there time!
So let’s have a look at who has qualified and how they made it:
|1||Grant Lawrie||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|2||Paul Baker||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|3||Jamie Stewart||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|4||John Parkinson||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|5||Tim McEwan||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|6||Justin Mc Carthy||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|7||Pete Cronin||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|8||Damien O’Neill||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|9||Jamie Stephens||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|10||Nick Johns||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|11||Ben Carter||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|12||Jordan Davison||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|13||Samuel Breen||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|14||Chris Webb||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|15||Steve Coffen||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|16||Dean Cummings||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|17||Richard Green||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|18||David Harrison||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|19||Peter Hayes||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|20||Stan Packham||Top 20 from 2019/20|
|21||John Willson||FFUK Cup winner 2019/20|
|22||James Downie||Milk Plate Winner 2019/20|
|23||Theo Allen||Junior Champion 2019/20|
|24||Nick Maston||MOM September|
|26||Tom Ryan||MOM November|
|27||Steven Almond||MOM November|
|28||James Amar||MOM December|
|29||Neill Goodwin||MOM January|
|51||Daron Russell||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|52||Dan Hepworth||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|53||Josh Paxman||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|54||Danny Burgess||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|55||John Harper||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|56||Andrew Downie||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|57||Mark Leathem||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|58||Marc Phillips||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|59||Jonty Cooke||FPL Cup 6th Round|
|60||Chris Smith||Top 5 New Managers|
|61||John Gleeson||Top 5 New Managers|
|62||Matt Baldwin||Top 5 New Managers|
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted a couple of things that look a bit odd. Why wasn’t there a Manager of the Month for October? Well, there was. It was James Downie. But he had already qualified for the Champions League as winner of the FFUK Milk Plate in 2019/20, and you can’t qualify twice! The rules of the competition dictate that the place does not pass to the next in line (to whoever finished second in October in this case, sorry Chris Ward), so there was no qualifier that month. And you will notice that November has two qualifiers. In cases where there is a tie for a qualification place all those teams qualify – there is no form of tie-breaker.
Any top-scorer in a Gameweek has qualified, which has brought in a total of 21 entrants. Five Managers of the Week had already qualified via other methods, and a special mention to Chris Galloway, James Simpson and Malek Mansour who have all been Manager of the Week TWICE this season! James even managed to do it two weeks running!
Given this is a cup, we give places to teams who do well in the lottery that is the FPL Cup – in this case any team making it to Round 6 qualifies. We had twelve teams in total make it through to that stage of the competition, of which three had already qualified – so nine new names for the hat. We also give five places to new entrants to FFUK – teams that couldn’t qualify via routes finalised the previous season. That group is led by Chris Smith (7). Dan Hepworth (FPL Cup) and Ameet Shah (MOTW – GW16) had already qualified so Chris was joined by the 4th and 5th placed new entrants, John Gleeson (15=) and Matt Baldwin (15=) both of whom had 1,461 points at the end of GW23. It is with great sadness that I have to report that 6th placed new entrant Mark Harrison missed out by just two points!
We also take the top Junior FFUKer at the end of GW23. However this was the same lad who won the thing last year, Theo Allen, so that doesn’t change anything, which leaves us with the 17 places up for grabs in GW24.
So that’s qualification. Perhaps it’s worth recapping how this competition is going to work.
Well the premise is that we follow as closely as possible the way the real-life Champions League works. It’s pretty complicated, but as I always say – don’t blame me, blame UEFA! Each week from GW26 through to the final week of the season, GW38, a separate round of the Champions League will be played. The exception is the Group Stage which will be run over three weeks from GW32-34 and for which there are 26 automatic qualifiers.
The other way into the Group Stage is through qualification which runs from GW26-31 inclusive. During this period at total of 53 teams will be reduced to six. It really is a tough school, in real-life as well as in the FFUK version! There are a total six qualifying rounds:
- The Preliminary stage semi-finals: four teams compete for two available places
- The Preliminary stage final: those two teams play for the one qualification place
- The First Qualifying Round: the preliminary stage winner is joined by 33 more teams. The 17 winners enter …
- The Second Qualifying Round: where they are joined by a further nine teams to make 26
- The Third Qualifying Round: the 13 winners from the second qualifying round are joined by a further three teams for a 16-team shoot out to reach ….
- The Play-Off Round: here the eight winners are joined by a further four teams, and those twelve play-off for the six remaining places available in the Champions League Group Stage
Sometime prior to GW26 we’ll do a live draw to pair each Champions League qualifying manager with one of the 79 teams that qualified in real-life. Managers will follow, precisely, the path that their team would need to follow in order to win – entering the competition when their team did in the actual competition. If you draw one of the four teams who started in the preliminary phase – sorry, but that’s where you start in the FFUK Champions League!
Managers retain their team throughout the competition, following that team’s path through the various draws made by UEFA. If your team lost the reciprocal tie in real life, you follow the path the victor took. So for example, if you draw FC Cluj you enter at the First Qualifying Round and play the manager who drew Floriana (the Maltese giants). If you win (as Cluj did) you go on to face the manager of Dinamo Zagreb who joins the competition in the second qualifying round. If the manager of Floriana wins THEY progress of course, but retain the same path, taking over Cluj’s place and themselves playing Dinamo Zagreb. This way you can take lowly Linfield all the way to Champions League glory! Although to do that you would have to make it through 6 rounds of qualifying, a 3 week Group stage and then the four knockout rounds …. so not impossible ….
The Group Stage takes place over three weeks with the two teams with the best aggregate score over those three weeks taking the winners and runners up places, and playing their Round of 16 matches as determined by the real-life Champions League draw. If the Winner of Group A in real-life gets drawn against the Runner Up of Group B, that logic will apply to the FFUK Champions League draw. We follow the same process of following the real-life draws to determine our own draws through to the final in GW38.
A couple of additional things to note. In the event of a tie the winner will be determined by overall rank, and hits don’t count. Ever. It’s just too complicated to take them into account.
I will keep the google sheet for the competition updated which you can access here. I can’t promise to keep this page updated as often, so go to the google sheet for the latest and stay tuned for news of the draw which will be coming soon.
Finally, good luck to everyone looking to qualify in GW24 – see you for the FFUK Champions League starting in GW26!
UPDATE 23rd December
Time for an FFUK Champions League update
I’ve already described in a previous post how the competition works (although I’ll run through this again as we get closer to it’s start point in Gameweek 26) which you can find here, together with details of how to qualify. There are a total of 79 places up for grabs and 40 of these have already been taken:
|1||Grant Lawrie||Top 20|
|2||Paul Baker||Top 20|
|3||Jamie Stewart||Top 20|
|4||John Parkinson||Top 20|
|5||Tim McEwan||Top 20|
|6||Justin Mc Carthy||Top 20|
|7||Pete Cronin||Top 20|
|8||Damien O’Neill||Top 20|
|9||Jamie Stephens||Top 20|
|10||Nick Johns||Top 20|
|11||Ben Carter||Top 20|
|12||Jordan Davison||Top 20|
|13||Samuel Breen||Top 20|
|14||Chris Webb||Top 20|
|15||Steve Coffen||Top 20|
|16||Dean Cummings||Top 20|
|17||Richard Green||Top 20|
|18||David Harrison||Top 20|
|19||Peter Hayes||Top 20|
|20||Stan Packham||Top 20|
|21||John Willson||Cup winner|
|22||James Downie||Cup winner|
|23||Theo Allen||Junior Champion|
Note that both Joseph Mulhern and James Simpson qualified with their joint league-high score of 105 points in Gameweek 14. Managers who tie for each qualification place (e.g. highest Gameweek score or Manager of the Month) all qualify – there’s no tie-breaker. It’s also worth re-iterating that you can only qualify once. If you qualify via an additional and subsequent route (as three managers have done so far: Grant Lawrie, James Downie and Tom Ryan, that place DOES NOT pass to the next highest-scoring manager. You must qualify by right not by being the next cab off the rank!
The exception to this rule is Gameweek 24. This week represents a last opportunity to qualify for the FFUK Champions League before it kicks off in Gameweek 26 (giving us a bit of breathing space to do the draw). There will likely be 15-20 places left in the competition by this week and those places will go to the managers with the highest scores in that Gameweek – so mark your diaries, and if you’re not in by then get those chips at the ready!
Other ways to qualify include being the highest scorer in a Gameweek or a Gamemonth or getting to round 6 of the FPL Cup (this kicks off in Gameweek 16).
Stay tuned for more updates.