For all of the shortcomings of the Premier League discussed in the last blog, one major benefit of it’s growing influence online has been the formation of Fantasy Premier League. This subset of the Premier League has been a popular game for nearly 40 years as fans choose specific players from certain teams, building themselves a squad that is then scored depending on real life results. This system of scoring a game based on actual scores is a unique and exciting way of keeping fans engaged with the league whilst also bringing a fun side to the sport. Although the game had been around for a long time, it was the Premier League’s move onto social media that really helped explode it into the massively popular entity it is today.
The origins of FPL
It’s popularity actually began before the Premier League joined social media as the official PL site started advertising it all the way back in the 2002/03 season. Back then it had very few managers and the concept was simple but it did offer fans a way to interact with the league like never before. Suddenly every player and every result mattered as fans battled to have the highest scoring team each week. This helped transition the focus from just the largely followed teams to every team in the league, allowing fans to stay engaged across the weekend.
Since it’s origin in that season the Premier League has always attempted to grow the player-base and make the game massively popular, using it’s social channels to promote and guide fans on how to play the game. This has been a huge success for the League as it’s generated a huge amount of original discussion and helped amass a 6 million strong set of FPL managers across the world.
This worldwide appeal of the game has been so great mainly because of the simplicity of it and the lack of needing to support a team. Many fans outside of the UK don’t have an allegiance to a certain side and so may feel that if they don’t support a someone, watching the Premier League is quite pointless but with FPL they can engage with every game and every team no matter what. The league has pushed forward this idea with the content it’s produced around FPL, inviting people from all over the world onto the official show and producing content with top managers that celebrates their culture as well as their skill at the game (e.g. Bharat Dody). In this instance then, the Premier League certainly do make a good effort to genuinely engage with it’s fans and uphold a positive relationship.
Managers give back
This effort has also been reciprocated by FPL managers as so many have created their own Twitter accounts where they discuss the game. In doing this, the Premier League and it’s fans are both helping each other and improving the relationship between them, showcasing the positive effect social media can have. However, it still remains to be seen if the Premier League can use this great example of forming a relationship with it’s fans throughout the rest of it’s social media. Tweeting directly at fans, answering questions and involving the public as much as possible would be great way to start this and shift their reputation from just being a corporation to actually being a sporting body fans can rely on.
In the final blog I’ll be posting an interview I recorded with an avid fan of football who regularly keeps up to date with the Premier League to see exactly what experiences he’s had with the league.