Presenting The Ultimate Championship…
The 2011-12 football season might have only just finished, but I am getting started early and announcing the (re-)launch of my own predictions competition, The Ultimate Championship. Previously open to only a handful of family and friends in what must be the longest trial period in predictor history (2012-13 will be the 9th edition), I am now opening the doors to all-comers, whilst also tweaking the format somewhat.
The idea is that, before the start of the season, you (and I) predict every position from the leagues on offer – i.e. what you expect to be the final league table come May. The way this is then worked out is that I stick the tables into my spreadsheet, with 1 point added for every position out each team is – thus the person with the lowest number of points wins. In addition to this, a small number of cup competitions are on offer (where you select the winner) as bonuses, with a chance to bring your total down further – an increasing number of points are deducted for reaching the semi-finals, reaching the final and winning the trophy.
The leagues on offer for the past few years have been the Premier League, Championship, Leagues 1 and 2, and the Conference Premier. I gradually increased the number of bonus cups (including other leagues by this point) on offer over the last couple of years but this year it got to the point where it was a bit daft. I wanted to have a European presence in the predictions but obviously not everyone is interested. Similarly, I’d added the Conference North and South but that is a lottery for anyone who doesn’t know much about the upper echelons of non-league football. When I originally set up the UC, it was meant to be focusing on the top four English leagues and so drifting away from that wasn’t necessarily a good idea.
So I’ve come up with a compromise – to split the predictions into three separate competitions, each catering for a particular interest field, and everyone can choose which ones they want to enter with them all ranked individually.
The Ultimate Championship – the flagship competition, which focuses, as was originally intended, on the top four English leagues: the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two. Also includes 3 bonus cup competitions: the FA Cup, the League Cup and Football League (currently Johnstone’s Paint) Trophy.
UC Conference – focusing on the top three non-league divisions: Conference Premier, Conference North and Conference South. The bonus cup competition is the FA Trophy.
UC Europe – focusing on four of the biggest leagues in continental Europe: the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1. The bonus cup competitions are the Champions League and Europa League.
The Entry Process
There is no opening date for entries per se – consider this the start of it. You’re more than welcome to send me predictions now, though I wouldn’t advise it, as you have plenty of time – the deadline will be just before midnight (British Summer Time) on the day before the first round of matches takes place for each competition:
– UC: The first round of matches in the Premier League and Football League is on 18th August (a late start this year due to the Olympic Games). Thus, the deadline will be 23:59 (BST) on Friday 17th August.
– UC Conference:
I can’t find a date for the first round of matches in the Conference at the moment, but I’m presuming it will be the same as the Premier League and Football League due to the late start – 23:59 (BST) on Friday 17th August. I’ll announce if there’s a change to that. The Conference season starts on 11th August. Thus, the deadline will be 23:59 (BST) on Friday 10th August.
– UC Europe: Ligue 1 begins on 11th August, La Liga begins on 18th August, the Bundesliga begins on 24th August and Serie A begins on 25th August. Thus, the deadline will be 23:59 (BST) on Friday 10th August.
Entries usually remain open for a period after the deadline, but any entries after the deadline will have 2 penalty points added for every day it is late. In any case, waiting to see what happens in the first few matches is a terribly unreliable and misleading way of doing it.
There is an entry form which I distribute each year (which is uploaded here) but it’s not compulsory to use that. While the final promotion and relegation issues have now been finalised in England, they have not elsewhere – the Serie B play-offs finish on 9th July, while the Segunda Division play-offs finish on 17th July. Thus, I cannot give you a completed team list yet for those. I’ll post Premier League, Football League and Conference lists in the coming days.
Email me with your entries – firstname.lastname@example.org
I will post score updates here every few weeks throughout the year – I was updating more frequently this year than in previous years so it won’t just be abandoned.
Just to give you a rough guide, normally the “winning” scores for each league would be as follows:
– the Premier League: between 40 and 55 (though occasionally higher)
– the Championship: between 100 and 150 (though this year’s winning score for that division was 92)
– League One: between 100 and 160 (though occasionally lower)
– League Two: between 110 and 145
– Conference: between 90 and 120 (though this year’s winning score was 146)
It is not easy. We usually make 1 or 2 catastrophic errors per league – it’s pretty much impossible to get everything spot on. The Premier League is traditionally the easiest division to predict, and League One the most difficult (though I am speaking as a fan of a League Two side). But it is the same for everyone – some fancied contenders struggle, while some expecting a struggle end up doing well. It is a lottery.
Now, you’re all probably wondering what the prize for winning is. Well, there is a real genuine actual trophy which we bought for the first year – it’s not exactly the European Cup but it serves a purpose, and it allows the winner the opportunity to play being Iker Casillas for a few moments when they win. The trophy has moved around a bit, usually to the winner (though I think there were one or two years when we never got round to presenting it). However, given that I may have some entries this year from people I’ve never met and/or live in different parts of the country, that could be a bit awkward. At the moment, there is no cash prize or anything like that – nothing permanent. It’s just for glory and honour. Maybe in the future if it grows more I may invest in that but probably not for this season.
But don’t let that persuade you not to bother. It’s not meant to be serious – it’s just for fun. And it is good fun, because it gives everyone a chance to laugh at how terrible they are at predicting the future. Last year was particularly good for this because there were loads of surprises in each league.
Feel free to take as long as you want. There are plenty of transfers to come, fixtures to be released, pre-season friendlies to be bored with, and managers to be inexplicably sacked before a ball is even kicked.
(Updated 15/07/12 with the final entry sheet and correct deadlines)