What can English fantasy football learn from USA Today?

ANTICIPATION is high both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

For whether you spell it ‘colour’ or ‘color’ the fantasy football season is almost upon us.

Next month will see the 12th annual Kenna League fantasy football auction in London, the capital of ‘Merrie Olde England’.

Kenna HQ is always on the lookout for fresh ideas to inject into our preferred format, so when we spotted Make these 8 improvements to your fantasy football league on the USA Today website we immediately cancelled our high tea appointment with the Queen to find out more.

Fundamental differences between our two codes of football aside, I’m sure with a basic knowledge of gridiron and having watched two seasons of The League (or at least until the writers ran out of ideas) we can learn a thing or two from our American counterparts.

Let’s take fantasy sports writer Tim Heaney’s points one by one and see how we get on.

1. Eliminate head-to-head. Go with total points or all-play.

I get it. You want your league to resemble the NFL as much as possible, and that comes with the drama and trash talk related to competing with friends every Thursday through Monday.

But for fantasy, head-to-head doesn’t always tell the right story — a freak injury or strategy flaw in real-life play can ruin your week or season.

Playing your entire league every weekend (using head-to-head record or straight point totals) gives a clearer reflection of the best and worst squads. In this setup, the highest-scoring clubs will not miss the playoffs. (How often has that happened to you?)

You could even skip the traditional playoff format and just play this way through the final weekend, the way that other football does in the English Premier League.

‘Other football.’ I like this. It’s much preferable to the ‘S’ word, which upon hearing an Englishman must immediately repeat back in a faux-American accent.

Yes, we do run a straight points league in England, but over the last couple of years the weekly head-to-head has gained much traction, particularly in the official Fantasy Premier League game. I have tens of thousands of Whatsapp messages to prove this.

In the Kenna, the honour is definitely in straight points.

2. Eliminate the kicker.

Don’t kickers get points by putting it through the posts? Taco in The League always buys kickers and he gets laid a lot. Although he’s also a bit simple. There’s something I’m not getting here. Laid, perhaps.

3. Add at least one extra flex (running back-wide receiver-tight end) position.

Flex? Is that like a substitute?

I’m assuming by their job titles running backs and wide receivers are the ones that score the most points – like strikers in ‘other football’ – so it seems sensible to add more of these.

Not sure what a tight end is. Sounds like something former Sunderland winger Adam Johnson would experience behind a Chinese takeaway.

4. Perhaps a superflex, adding a quarterback.

I enjoyed the first two being used in the recent Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio Independence Day Invitational, which took things to the extreme with no kicker, no team defense, an extra tight end and an extra RB-WR-TE flex.

These three alterations would throw an electrifying wrench into an ever-evolving player pool. Kickers were already frustrating, and with the revised extra-point rules, it’s Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker, or … dart board.

Why not get more fantasy fun out of a roster spot? Especially when you institute the wild card of the option to start another QB. Heck, go nuts, make it a two-QB lineup.

I have no idea what a superflex is either. By now it should also be fairly certain I would be out of my depth at the Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio Independence Day Invitational.

5. Use incentives to keep lower-ranked teams competitive late into the year.

Make the No. 1 pick next year the highest-ranked non-playoff team. Put money aside for weekly contests (most receiving yards, etc.) so teams can win even if they’re not going to take the full-year crown.

Force the last-place team to pay for a league dinner or perform an embarrassing dare (viral video? tattoo? viral video of the loser getting a Justin Bieber tattoo?).

Now here’s an area I understand. After one season of the Kenna we knew Manager of the Month awards alone were not enough to keep lower-ranked managers interested.

In 2006, we introduced a knockout tournament as a side competition to keep the rest of the league interested: the Canesten Combi Cup.

In certain weeks of the season teams are pitched against each other in a UEFA Champions League format. Group stages in Autumn, knockouts in Winter and Spring.

The Canesten, as it became known, has since produced winners from all over the league. Sadly, pharmaceutical giant Bayer pulled sponsorship last year. The competition is now called The Narcozep Cup.

As for last place punishments, the thought of frogmarching the season’s worst manager to a tattoo parlour is an amusing one.

All of a sudden it feels very British, but in the Kenna our only demand on relegated managers is they return next season with a new team name. And of course they have the stigma of relegation, living with the contempt of the rest of the league.

It’s unlikely an English manager would return to the Kenna next season if we pinned him down for a tattoo of Jimmy Savile. But it’s worth running past the Kenna committee.

Let’s stretch the boundaries further with these final three suggestions:

6. Install at least two spots for individual defensive players.

IDPs bring a new vision of fantasy — who’s going to make the most plays on the other side of the ball? It’ll help improve your league’s overall knowledge of football even more than your basic league does.

Does American fantasy football only reward attacking players? If you do, you’re like the English guy in the pub wearing a Real Madrid Ronaldo shirt ‘because I only support winners, yeah’.

Defence is more important to us than a dentist. A dentist’s chair, on the other hand…

7. Award a bonus if an owner’s quarterback throws a touchdown to a teammate also on that fantasy club.

It’d be cool to find a software that could deploy a Stack Bonus, if you will. Nailing a stat-sheet-stuffing QB-WR connection is one of the most rewarding feelings in daily fantasy football, so why not embrace the thrill of Ben Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown every week?

You can just about throw average draft position out the window if that happens — another dynamic twist.

I guess this would be the equivalent of Riyad Mahrez assisting a Jamie Vardy goal.

A sticking point here for the Kenna since managers can only sign one player from each Premier League club.

Also because the championship Leicester team looks like getting carved up by the transfer window deadline.

8. Hold a live free-agent auction every Tuesday or Wednesday night.

OK, probably a pipe dream. But imagine how high that Week 1 wonder’s price can climb in Week 2.

Blind bids are cool, but not as fun as an active bidding war. Limit it to one or two rounds, then kick off first-come, first-serve pickups the morning after.

But would fantasy league widows allow this?

Here’s where it’s difficult to maintain enthusiasm and diaries for a 10-month season.

The Kenna holds two transfer windows – in October and February – where managers sign available form players for exorbitant sums.

Released players are sold on the open market, so you only get what another manager is prepared to pay.

Tough if most of your team are injured, have moved abroad or just plain rubbish. But not to worry, it’s another marathon session in the pub and you’ll leave up to date on all the best current affairs jokes in the worst possible taste.

Any other suggestions?


Panini stickers – I’m sure the US must have Panini sticker books or an equivalent, the ones where you have to collect all the players.

Why not auction off a packet of stickers first. The winning bidder doesn’t know who they’re buying, but can choose from the five players in there. We trialled this successfully at the Jean-Alain Boumsong Euros auction last month.

Forfeits – what happens if someone tries to buy a player they shouldn’t have? Either because they’ve run out of money or they already have player in that position?

This became a common problem early on the Kenna. Usually after several rounds of ale.

We stamped it out fairly quickly introducing the Titus Bramble ruling. Anyone buying an illegal player, or sometimes just attempting to buy one, is given a player instead so bad no one else wants them.

You can see where we tried to formalise the Titus Bramble ruling from page seven of this document.

Be careful with this though. It almost came to blows once.

More booze – the Kenna would never condone irresponsible drinking, but it’s important to keep things loose for what can be a six-hour pub session.

Surprise managers with a compulsory cocktail upon arrival (raise the entry fee to cover it) or introduce random shots of Jagermeister if certain players are drawn. Whatever you do, get managers to mix their drinks.

As a chairman – or commissioner – you’ve failed unless half the league wakes up the day after the auction with a three-day hangover and half a team of chaff they don’t remember signing.

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Chairman organises piss up in brewery. Twice.

BEAVERTOWN Brewery could become the new Kenna HQ local after the chairman was spotted drinking there two weekends in a row.

The unorthodox choice is thought to stem from the delicious, cheap beer, which helps visitors overlook they’re spending the best Saturday weather of the year so far in an industrial estate carpark in Tottenham.

Sources close to the chairman say he’s tempted to make the craft beer warehouse a regular haunt.

News the chairman’s head has been turned will come as a blow to Kenna August auction venue hopeful The Westbury in N22.

Just 10 minutes’ walk from Kenna HQ and serving well-kept Brooklyn Lager, The Westbury was widely tipped to become the first pub outside zone 1 to host the auction.

Beavertown’s unusual opening hours – Saturdays only from 2pm to 8pm – are a perfect fit for the Kenna auction, but the lack of rain cover, lack of Sky Sports, lack of hooks under the bar, lack of optics and lack of Scotch egg options are all negatives.

The chairman’s successful organisation of two piss ups in a brewery is being seen as a poke in the chest to those in the Kenna committee who question his abilities to run the league.

“So long as that’s the only place he’s poking us,” said the Young Boys manager.

The chairman refused to be drawn on the subject at this morning’s press conference.

He would only confirm this week’s points would be counted on Thursday, to leave Sunday’s matches alone deciding the Narcozep Cup final between Pikey Scum and Walthamstow Reds.

The latter club made no dent in Young Boys’ lead over the weekend. Reds striker Jermaine Defoe’s performance on Wednesday night is now being touted as the manager’s final throw of the dice in his hunt for a maiden Kenna title, and possibly The Double.

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10 reasons to miss the Kenna League fantasy football auction

LONDON’S leading pub-based fantasy football auction takes place this Saturday afternoon.

Those taking part will tell you for the armchair manager it’s a unique experience unlikely to be found elsewhere.

Six hours of fierce bidding and fierce drinking to sign eleven Premier League players in the tried-and-tested 4-4-2 formation.

Last week we looked at reasons why managers should get involved, but what of those who shun the Kenna?

Here are 10 reasons why you wouldn’t take part.

1. You’re a Premier League manager

Jose Mourinho

Surely the reason not to take part in fantasy football management is if you have a job in real football management.

2. The other half is in charge of your diary


You’ve never liked her old school friend. Yet here you are in a rural village at her bloody wedding. Surrounded by people whose interest in football is comparable to the strength of your phone signal. It’s a cash bar three miles from the nearest hole in the wall. You curse your lack of initiative in domestic arrangements.

3. American dentists consider you good sport


Poached eggsHow did Cecil the lion have his eggs?

4. You don’t actually like football, you just pretend to because everyone else does.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto

Chipping into water cooler chats with the occasional ‘Costa is really suited to the English game’ is an easy way to stay in with the crowd. Spending six hours in a pub surrounded by football ‘bantz’ is unfettered torture.

5. Preparation for a slumber party.

Slumber party

Only four days until guests arrive and so much to do: bake cupcakes, buy two extra microphones for SingStar, try on every cotton hot pant/vest combo in the wardrobe before deciding on what to wear. Quite why a potential Kenna manager would invite several teenage girls to a sleepover is anyone’s guess…

6. Death in the family. Close family, mind. A cousin’s pushing it.

Funeral crasher

Who’s not only selfish enough to die, but gets buried on a Saturday too?

7. You’re an enemy of the Kenna

NKVDWhether it’s a gripe over league rules or a throwaway comment about the competence of the committee, several hours of ‘football reeducation’ in a soundproof room beneath Kenna HQ is never far away. The eyes, ears and agents of the manager experiences department are everywhere.

8. You’re a loser.

Kip Dynamite

Even taking part in a fantasy auction in public is too cool for you.

9. A life-changing windfall

Brewster's Millions

Let’s face it: the league’s annual investment in Premium Bonds has less chance of paying out than a Euromillions ticket. If one manager was that lucky winner this Friday, those new-found riches could be just enough to turn the head.

10. A specialist appointment

Bestd clinic

You tried to find out if you could prove number 10 wrong from last week, didn’t you?

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10 reasons to take part in the Kenna fantasy football auction

Next Saturday sees the 11th Kenna League fantasy football auction.

It’s a unique experience. Around 20 managers perched around a pub table, player lists at the ready, trying to make eleven signings in a 4-4-2 formation to win them the league.

In a process that takes up to six hours, alcohol, self-doubt, bluff and double bluff are just some of the challenges managers must overcome.

Where no manager can buy more than one player from each Premier League club, the Titus Bramble forfeit ruling lurks at every turn.

With many already paid up, here are the benefits of taking one of the few remaining places at the table.

1. ManYoo v Spurs and Chels v Swans will be on in the background

Pub TV football

For the first time, the auction will take place on the opening day of the season. Managers will have to to decide whether a Carlton Cole brace means he’s a top, top, top, top, top, top player or just plain old CFC (Carlton effing Cole) on a lucky day. Hundreds of other mind-boggling permutations await.

2. You will only have to make transfers twice this season

Ruud Gullit Terek Grozny

As Ruud Gullit discovered, football isn’t all bars and discotheques. Expect for Kenna managers, it is. They are only required to visit the pub three times a season to stay in with a shot at the title: the auction and two transfer windows.

3. Proper champagne will be served before the bidding begins

Champagne opening

Thanks to the generosity of last season’s cash winners, a toast will be made before the auction to The 1,000-year Kenna. Which is a damn sight longer than this Kenny Rogers wannabe, who looks like he wouldn’t last 1,000 milliseconds.

3. For the next nine months, you can smugly explain the Kenna to wide-eyed, envious simpletons still sucking from the teat of FPL/Mirror/Sky Sports fantasy football

Pigs feeding

Kenna managers past and present will tell you it’s the superior form of the game. Everyone else is just lining the pockets of media barons.

5. From midday you can start drinking. Heavily. 


Your unfathomable thirst has a home. So long as you buy the chairman a drink.

6. The joy of watching other, less-informed managers sign injured players.

Mr Schadenfreude

Sly glances shoot across the table. Wasn’t he was stretchered off in a friendly last week? He’s out for a few months, isn’t he? But now two people are actually bidding for him. Can everyone keep a poker face until the hammer goes down? The sale. The mirth. The pure relief you checked your initial instinct to bid. ‘He’s injured.’

7. The auction will take place on a balcony with an outdoor telly and a retractable awning so you can smoke without interruption to your bidding tactics.

Camel cigarettes

The old days of crowding around a table bursting with pint glasses, player lists and hedgehog ashtrays are back.

8. At some point someone will Bramble themselves both hideously and comically.

Jean Luc Picard face palm

Like the morning session of the first day of at Lord’s, the opening lots are a low key affair. Those assembled bubble quietly. Politely. A slow dramatic build up as managers begin to fill their team sheets and rounds of drinks appear and appear again. The moment will finally come when someone, somewhere buys an illegal player. The stumps clatter, bails fly and everyone shouts ‘BRAMBLE!’. All of a sudden it’s the evening session on the third second day of Edgbaston.

9. Due to other commitments, the treasurer is sending a second who’s never taken part in a Kenna auction before.


Either by carelessness or design, the treasurer is unable to attend the auction in person. In his stead will be a second. A decent enough sort, but by all accounts a Kenna virgin who will spend the first hour wondering what the blazes is unfolding. It remains to be seen whether this recipe will improve on the two third place finishes the treasurer achieved in the last two seasons.

10. At £25, it’s cheaper to enter than most STD-free hookers.

Redlight district

How willing are you to prove this wrong?

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Registrations open for 11th Kenna auction

TWENTY places are up for grabs at the Kenna League auction next month.

The 11th Kenna auction will take place on Saturday 8 August in The Hoop and Grapes on Farringdon Road.

Due to the second-earliest start to the season in Premier League history, Kenna HQ has taken the unprecedented decision to hold the auction on the opening day. 

Bidding will begin at 12.45pm to coincide with kick off of the opening game – Manchester United v Spurs.

Managers will have to cope with the added dynamic of events on the pitch influencing events in the pub.

“The venue has a large balcony with a TV screen and a retractable awning. The good old days of sitting around a table covered with pints, player lists and brimming ashtrays are back. Hashtag pressure cooker,” said the chairman, who made the announcement at a launch event alongside the league treasurer (pictured above).

Potential managers are urged to reserve their place by contacting the treasurer to transfer the £25 entry fee.

Tuning in to Radio Luxembourg

Rules will adhere to the accepted Titus Bramble conditions, but there are a few tweaks.

Players to be introduced to auction will be picked at random using cutting-edge technology devised by the chaps in charts and graphs.

Managers not completing their team in the allotted auction time will have the gaps filled at random afterwards, and receive a remaining budget decided by the committee. Most likely this will be the average remaining budget of everyone else.

For those who can’t attend there are two choices:

  1. You can make arrangements with a second to bid remotely.
  2. Applications are open to submit silent bids (see below). Whether your application is accepted will depend on auction attendance numbers (no more than 20) and your commitment to the league.

Silent bidding must be seen as a last resort by managers who cannot attend next month. Anyone submitting silent bids must attend at least one transfer window this season to qualify for next summer’s auction, which they must attend in person.

Silent bids

Successful applicants will pick 11 desired players, attributing a bid to each one. The total bids must not exceed £100m. Bids for individual players can range between £0.5m and £50m. The Titus Bramble ruling will be enforced.

The manager submits the bids confidentially to charts and graphs. When a player with a silent bid attached is introduced to auction, the reserve price and interested manager will be announced, and bidding will start from there.

A silent bidder is unlikely to fill a team. See the paragraph above about non completion.

Contact the chairman for application details.

Transfer windows

Silent bidding is for the auction only. It will not be run for transfer windows.

If you cannot attend a transfer window and cannot bid remotely through a second, any gaps in your team will be filled at random.

The first window will be held on Friday 16 October, the eve of the Premier League restart after the international break.

As tradition dictates, the first Friday after the January window shuts will hold the second Kenna transfer window – Friday 5 February.

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Tonight’s transfer list now available

Seagull Alcatraz
Free as a bird: The Kenna transfer list isn’t the only thing to be released today (Yang and Yun’s Album)

From: The chairman
Sent: 17 October 2014, 09:04
To: Kenna League managers
Subject: Player list comes out


Like Ched Evans the Kenna transfer window player list is out today.

At the top you’ll find each manager, their available funds and the positions in their teams they need to fill.

Players are grouped into position and ranked by points scored this season. Those in black are unavailable unless a manager decides to make his one surprise release of the evening.

The blue circles are a hangover from the cut-and-shut format job of Kenna HQ weevils. Click the circle to open up the player’s individual stats page on the [national newspaper] site.

Players without a circle are either listed as injured or suspended. Don’t ask why they haven’t got the orange circle. There’s been enough swearing about the blue and orange circles this week to rebuild Billingsgate Market.

Fishy rumours are circulating about the Just Put Carles and Still Don’t Know Yet managers, who have both utterly failed to engage with the Kenna over the transfer window.

Hoxton Pirates and St Reatham FC were granted dispensation from the deadline because:

  • The Pirates manager was not going to attend the window because he’s taken up ‘Stop-tober’ or ‘Oct-sober’ or some other w@nky agency-inspired charity name. Now he has to spend four hours in a pub buying three average players. How long until he cracks, Brambles himself and resigns?
  • The St Reatham FC manager emailed early this morning to say ‘I’ve been in San Francisco and not had a chance to email earlier’. Really? San Francisco? The home of Silicon Valley? He then tried to release a player he didn’t even have.

These are the kind of madcap antics that curry favour with the chairman, but be warned: the next window deadline is Wednesday 4 February. Miss that and there’s no respite and no bonus.

Breivik – bring your hammer.

Jack – bring your laptop.

See you in the pub.

The chairman

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Hide and groom

Bianca Westwood linkedin
Swiss con: The manager stalks his prey from the Alps using both wifi and Bluetooth

THE St Reatham FC manager has been exposed in a grooming ring which targets female sports presenters just days ahead of the Kenna League season’s crucial first transfer window.

Using a sick alias on social media networking site LinkedIn, the manager was discovered luring unsuspecting Sky Sports broadcaster Bianca Westwood to the page.

In a leaked email the St Reatham boss bragged the journalist’s name was Bianca ‘Betshewood’ and made lewd remarks, calling her ‘little treacle’.

A regular feature on Gillete Soccer Saturday, Westwood complained to authorities but her inane babble was too steeped in popular culture and pseudo-gangsta slang for them to understand.

The St Reatham manager runs the sinister grooming ring from his hideout in Switzerland. He has been on Surrey Constabulary’s top 10 most wanted list since last April, when the battered corpse of Sky Sports News presenter Natalie Sawyer was found on Chobham Common.

It is widely thought the manager is also behind the grimey @SkySportsWomen Twitter account.

The revelations threaten to disrupt St Reatham FC preparations for Friday’s transfer night at the Artillery Arms on Bunhill Row. Injury to defender Geoff Cameron and the form of ‘luxury man’ Hatem Ben Arfa are of considerable concern to a manager still chasing his first piece of Kenna silverware. The side are fifth in the table.

The Kenna HQ doormat has been troubled by letters from four managers ahead of the submission deadline tomorrow (15 October), with a total of 10 players released by clubs through the post. Each manager will attract the £10m bonus kitty.

A further four players were released by an email from the Cowley Casuals manager reading: “Greetings from Beirut – scene of the Casuals’ international break training camp. Unfortunately, I do not have faith enough in the Lebanese postal service to deliver my transfers to Kenna HQ before the deadline. Therefore, here they are in an old fashioned email.”

The limp effort sees the Cowley Casuals manager the minimum £5m bonus.

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Appeal launched after cabby drives off with the Kenna

Kenna auction August 2014
Hammered: The gavel seen in this picture went missing hours later, along with other auction paraphernalia

KENNA HQ has put out an urgent lost property alert across London after a black taxi disappeared with items essential to the league on Saturday night.

The Bramble Jersey, auction hammer and literally the keys to Kenna HQ among the effects lost following an unusual chain of events on Regent Street at around 11pm.

The chairman and two Kenna managers were making their way from the pre-season fantasy football auction at The Carpenter’s Arms in Marylebone to meet other league members for a debrief at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square.

Disembarking from a London black taxi to retrieve fare payment from a cash machine, the chairman’s party were stunned to find upon return that the cabbie had ‘done one’.

The joy of realising they had skipped a £15 fare was soon overtaken by anxiety when the chairman revealed all the Kenna auction equipment was still in the taxi.

“It was most singular,” the chairman told the Transport for London lost property office this morning. “There was a black bag containing an old HP laptop, a Wigan Athletic Titus Bramble shirt and the keys to Kenna HQ, as well as a wooden wine box holding an Alpine cow bell, a bicycle horn and two decks of pornographic playing cards.

“Aside from the playing cards, these items are of little value to anyone but absolutely essential to the smooth running of the Kenna League auction.”

The incident marred what had otherwise been a great day in celebration of the Kenna’s 10th anniversary auction.

A total of 17 managers battled through a Free Palestine rally to take part in proceedings in the upstairs room of a most welcoming pub The Carpenter’s Arms, with one manager linked live via Skype from Switzerland.

Managers toasted the future success of the league with champagne donated by the FC Testiculadew manager using the winnings from his recent Emerson World Cup win, before the auction started just after 3pm.

For the first time in years, no manager fell foul of the Titus Bramble forfeit ruling, although the Greendale Rockets boss came close after being caught in a bid for a second Chelsea player.

All eyes now turn to the coming Saturday, where managers will find out just how ill-judged their auction purchases were.

Final teams will be published over the coming days.

The chairman issued a message to the hasty cabby: “Thanks for the free ride but please hand in these items to the proper authorities immediately, if you haven’t already done so.

“Keep a few of the playing cards for your own delectation if desired, we don’t use these for the auction any more.”

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How to run a fantasy football auction

"To Emmanuel!"
Well informed, well oiled: Every manager needs just a player list and a drink for an auction (from the Emmanuel Olisadebe 2012 Euros auction)

AUGUST is here, which for sports fans both sides of the Atlantic Ocean means it’s time to start preparing for the fantasy football season.

Whether it’s English Premier League, National Football League, association football, American football, soccer, footy or gridiron, the auction – or auction draft as our cousins across the Pond call it – is by far the best way for your league to pick teams – or rosters.

This Saturday (9 August) the Kenna League will hold it’s 10th anniversary auction. Since 2005 the Kenna has held nine Premier League, three World Cup and two Euros auctions, along the way looking to improve the overall experience of what can be a gruelling test for managers, but an even bigger one for organisers.

As more and more fantasy football disciples discover this ultimate format of selecting a team, it seems an ideal time to share our top 10 tips for running a fantasy football auction which will hopefully prove useful whether you’re a dilettante commissioner or veteran chairman.

1. Choose a good venue

Carpenters Arms
Cornerstone: On Saturday the Carpenter’s Arms will become the 17th London pub to host a Kenna event (photo: Bob Walker)

Atmosphere is everything. An environment where managers can focus on the auction for a few hours without distraction is the key. Avoid online auctions at all costs, you want to see the pain on the opposition’s face when they lose out on a target.

Only cricket’s Indian Premier League can shell out to hire an exclusive hotel’s conference room for an auction (and they look dull anyway). YouTube evidence suggests our American cousins find a cheaper option to be someone’s house or garage, but the Kenna League is based in London, a city where flats are small and only Russian oligarchs or Arabian oil sheikhs can afford covered parking.

For the Kenna League there is only one place for an auction, and that’s where the league was born: the pub. Central London has thousands of boozers with function rooms that do just the job, providing a convenient travelling distance for managers across the capital and, crucially, easy access to a licensed bar.

Alcohol is a must. All the better if manager’s can order drinks at the bar while participating in a bid. Shots bring an added dimension and can lead to controversy, but if there’s one thing football supporters love it’s controversy.

2. Set an appropriate budget

A pony: Kenna League entry is £25 (photo: Deep Frozen Shutterbug)

Compared to our American counterparts, who appear to set limits up to $200 (£118) for each team, the Kenna is the poor relation. League entry cost just £25 ($42). For some reason in English slang this monetary value is known as ‘a pony’.

Uncle Sam may dismiss this value as trifling, but the advantage of a lower cost is that managers are more likely to enjoy the auction, rather than see it as some sort of medium-term investment opportunity. If you want a meeting with your bank manager about risk averse investment, he’ll tell you to stay away from football. Do yourself a favour and stay away from fantasy football auctions too.

For the Kenna entry fee of a pony, managers receive as assumed £100m budget to buy 11 players, which is more in keeping with the prices footballers fetch in real life.

Those still dismissing the paltry entrance fee must also consider that during the Emerson World Cup auction in June, 16 managers racked up a bar bill of £500 ($845).

3. Set one formation and a player quota

Tactics whiteboard
Blank canvas: Each Kenna manager must adhere to the classic, some-might-say out-dated 4-4-2 formation (photo: Alex Hempworth-Smith)

Every manager should be aware from the outset of what formation of players they need to complete their team. In the US, it can be the 2RB-3WR system with it’s quota of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends etc.

For the Kenna it’s the classic 4-4-2: one goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers. Ideally, the ratio should tally with the number of players in that position on the player list.

The Kenna has found an entertaining recipe for an auction to be the one-player-per-club quota, so managers may only have one player from Chelsea, one from Manchester United etc. It means competitors must think hard about who they want from each Premier League club, which can make life extremely difficult (see ‘7. Forfeits’ below).

4. Assign roles and rotate them

Entertainer: The auctioneer must add to the atmosphere (photo: peculiarhand)

The Kenna is lucky enough to have a professional auctioneer in its ranks, but even he could not keep the pace needed to host an engaging commentary for five hours. He also looks like Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, which some people find unsettling when forced to see him for prolonged periods.

Pick anything from three semi-competent managers to take it in turns with the hammer. Likewise, select three or more managers to take it in turns recording sales on a central list or spreadsheet. Rotation means managers will be more engaged in proceedings.

5. Robust admin

Spreadsheet mug
Mugged off: Auction organisers not properly recording sales could find themselves facing difficult questions later the evening (photo: Craig Chew-Moulding)

Our American counterparts appear to prefer projectors or large flip charts to share sales with the room. While efficient in someone’s house or garage, it can be difficult managing these items in the pub.

The Kenna is fortunate enough to have the chaps in charts and graphs. They’ve created an Excel spreadsheet to record signings, flag up if a manager has exceeded their budget or player quota and automatically generate a list of completed sales.

Make sure you’re auction has a steadfast method of chronicling events. It’ll come in handy for those ‘I only paid this much for him’ arguments late in the evening.

6. Auction pace

Bingo caller
Quick and easy: A bingo-style player draw is the fastest way to pick lots at an auction (photo: CT Young)

Attention levels must be maintained by running the auction at a brisk speed. Meandering bids and long gaps between lots are dull for everyone. Aim for around 45 players per hour. If you can get through one lot a minute you can reward the league with a cigarette break.

The pace can be sped up by introducing a random player draw instead of the tedious process of managers taking it in turns to pick a player. This Saturday the Kenna auction will see around 270 players go under the hammer. The 200 most desirable Premier League players will be drawn from a hat, meaning all managers will find the next player to be drawn of interest.

7. Forfeits

Titus Bramble and Sunderland mascot
Shaking hands with a muppet: A good forfeit process will ensure those not bringing their A game get snared (photo: Alex Connock)

The Kenna League is too old and wily to believe that any manager bought an ineligible player by accident, particularly after one manager’s unchivalrous behaviour two years ago. Whether it’s too many players in one position or too many from one club, introduce a forfeit system to punish those either cheating or not paying full attention.

The Kenna introduced the Titus Bramble ruling as a forfeit system. Any manager caught transgressing the rules will immediately have the ineligible player removed and replaced with a bogey player from the Titus Bramble squad – a pre-selected list of footballers of questionable quality.

It would be interesting to hear from our American counterparts who they consider to be the Titus Bramble of their league.

8. Auction paraphernalia

Bramble jersey handover 1Feb13 anon
Le Maillot Merde: Three times a year the Bramble Jersey is handed to the manager at the bottom of the table.

A printed player list and a pen are all each manager needs to take part. If everyone’s sitting around with their own laptop for six hours casually browsing the internet then all atmosphere is lost and you may as well be at a miserable great uncle’s wake.

Other items the Kenna has found contribute to surroundings include:

  • The Bramble Bell – an Alpine cow bell stolen from a bar in a French ski resort which is rung whenever administrators spot a Titus Bramble forfeit
  • The Horn of Africa – a bicycle horn squeezed when a sale is considered to be of poor value or a manager behaves inappropriately, named after The Horn of Africa manager’s decision to resign mid-auction when things didn’t quite go his way
  • The Bramble Jersey – a Wigan Athletic shirt allegedly worn by Titus himself which must be put on by the manager in last place in the rankings table at any league gathering.

9. Time limit

Bar billiards
Bar billiards: Like the traditional pub game, this year the Kenna auction will have a time limit (photo: Matthew Armendariz)

If you organise an auction after work on a weeknight there’s always a risk the pub will shut before everyone’s had a chance to fill their teams.

If you organise an auction on a Saturday afternoon there’s always a risk some manager’s wife will book theatre tickets for the evening because many ladies, erroneously, consider Lion King On Ice more important than a fantasy football league.

Either way, you can be left in the ball ache of a position of having to retrospectively fill teams by email.

This Saturday the Kenna is looking to combat this administrator’s nightmare by introducing a time limit. The chaps in charts and graphs have come up with an ingenious spreadsheet that will automatically allocate remaining players based on desirability and managers’ remaining budgets.

If you don’t want to find yourself sending out lists of available players while nursing an auction night hangover, it’s suggested you find a similar solution.

10. Transfer windows

Transfer night in The Enterprise
Serious business: Kenna managers gathered in The Enterprise in Holborn for last season’s February transfer window.

The Kenna meets twice during the Premier League season (early October and early February) for transfer windows. At these events managers sell their unwanted players at auction, and buy available players at auction.

Spice things up a bit by getting managers to submit their players two days beforehand in unusual ways by offering them bonuses for doing so. In the Kenna, the traditional method of sending in transfers by fax or mail attract the largest bonus. Avoid professional couriers, as some managers can just get these on their work accounts.


These are just a few pointers picked up in pursuit of hosting a great auction. We hope you found these tips useful, or at least enjoyed reading them.

Remember the most essential item in putting on the perfect auction is atmosphere. Picture the scene: it’s two hours in, everyone’s had a couple of drinks, teams are filling up, the mockery is flying, bids are flying, managers are starting to forfeit themselves, bells are ringing and one poor sod is sweating into a polyester football shirt.

In the Kenna that golden time is known as ‘The Bramble Hour’. Find it and managers will come flocking back to your league again and again.

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Kenna winner makes ceremony demands

Yaya Toure
Where the cake at? (photo: Angel Tapia)

YAYA Touré isn’t the only person in football this week to make demands about how things should be presented to him.

A memo leaked from Kenna HQ has revealed the FC Testiculadew manager, whose side won the league and cup double this season, has made a series of requests about how he would like his prize giving ceremony to go, most of which were turned down by a cash-strapped league administration.

First of all the FCT manager, known around the Kenna as the Tactical Brambler, asked for a novelty cheque as he’d ‘never received one and it’d be a great photo opportunity for the league’.

The manager continued: “Regarding the trophy presentation, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to this, is there any way this can be done as the top of a flight of steps at the pub rather than on the ground floor on a small stage with confetti cannons?”

In turning down many of the FCT manager’s requests, league authorities were quick to point out the fiscal constraints placed upon them by failure of the Dulwich Red Sox manager to pay his £25 entry fee.

The official response said: “When contacted the FA were polite but reluctant to give the green light for a Wembley presentation, and a potential sponsorship deal with Mumm champagne also fell through when talks were at advanced stages.

“Added to that are financial difficulties at the Kenna HQ because one manager didn’t pay his subs.

“In short, the league can provide a pub staircase, handover ceremony and a two-litre bottle of White Lightening, but you’ll have to bring your own cheerleaders.

“We regret to inform you, however, that a novelty cheque is out of the question. The office printer is out of ink.”

The ceremony is due to take place ahead of the 2014 Emerson World Cup auction at a London pub next month.

The Dulwich Red Sox manager’s pecuniary disinclination has also led to a reduction in prize monies this season.

A Cockney chalkstripe from the Kenna HQ speculations department confirmed: “Manager of the Month awards, which were set at £12.50, have been reduced to an Ayrton.

“The Wenger Trophy has also been reduced from a pony to a Bobby Moore. Considering the Judean Peoples’ Front manager’s untimely visit to the Frank Zapper, that makes it the most expensive pony he’s ever had!” he quipped.

FC Testiculadew: £270
Kenna League champions: £150
Canesten Combi Cup winners: £100
Manager of the Month in January and April: £10 x2

Piedmonte: £85
Kenna League runners up: £75
Manager of the Month in November: £10

Bala Rinas: £50
Kenna League third place: £50

Judean Peoples’ Front: £20
Wenger Trophy (4th place): £20

Other Manager of the Month awards: £10 each
August: Sporting Lesbian
September: Headless Chickens
October: Hairy Fadjeetas
December: This is Sparta…Prague
February: Pikey Scum
March: Just Put Carles
May: Still Don’t Know Yet

Alan Hansen’s coloured performance chart

Alan Hansen's coloured performance chart - Kenna League 2013/14
Alan Hansen’s coloured performance chart – Kenna League 2013/14
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