An interview about Player Boss - 30/08/2001
CK: Well, why fantasy football, Bez?
Bez: It started when I was injured at Southampton, me and David Hughes got together and thought we'd do our own game. The first attempt was called 'Big Money League' but it never got going as we had big technical problems. You can bet we learnt a lot of lessons from that!! We brought a few people in, hired a database and a front end company and started again!
For me, football is about the players AND the fans, this is what PLAYERBOSS is about, the chance for the supporters to play the pro's. I think fantasy football is excellent, it gives you an interest in games that previously you just wouldn't have watched! I didn't realise it could be so addictive - just ask the wife!!
CK: Have you played fantasy football games yourself? If so which?
Bez: Yeh, I played the Sun game, but I didn't use my name - just learning (and no, didn't win any of the prizes). I didn't like that fact that someone else could change the scores by giving them man of the match.
IW: Do you think you would have been a popular fantasy football player choice during your main stints at Portsmouth and Newcastle?
Bez: You're joking...in that Newcastle defence?? No seriously though, if you look at the stats it wasn't half as bad as the press made out. I didn't get many goals, but I would have got a few assists? (CK: Sorry Bez, don't remember you being on my short list!).
CK: How long has PlayerBoss taken to get off the ground?
Bez: Well, if you count the first attempt, it's about two years - since the injury.
IW: How many people are involved in running PlayerBoss?
Bez: At the moment we have a staff of six, but three of those are temp. Swany (everyone's best mate [Soccer AM]) is involved, he got quite a few of the players involved, and over the months another five to ten pro's have been involved.
CK: The involvement of the pro footballers (via the mini-leagues and prizes) provides a unique angle to the game but do you think the actual game will be enjoyable and challenging for people to play?
Bez: Well this is a big thing for us. We looked at the other games, let's just say that some are better than others! We then drew together the best aspects of the games we liked. PLAYERBOSS is quite simple, but we feel it's very fair. There's nothing worse than one of you're defenders getting subbed in the last minute and then losing a couple of points - so with us, they score. We also didn't like negative points for bookings. The challenge is whether to for a strong 11 and a weak subs bench or a more balanced side. We've got a great idea for next year, and that should take it to another level.
IW: How did you get the big names involved? And did it mainly start with players that you have played alongside (for example Beardsley at Newcastle, Le Tissier at Southampton)?
Bez: Yes, I've just called a few of my old team mates up, Swany did the same. Again, we want to develop this and have a few more ideas for next year.
CK: What made you choose a squad based game with 25 transfers?
: It makes the game more interactive. The more you can 'manage' your team - the better.
CK: Do you think the Supporters Mini-Leagues will be popular?
Bez: Yeh, I'm really happy with that, but we're struggling to get all the team represented - so if you're reading this and support one of the less popular teams - get registering!! Like I say, it should be really interesting come May. We were worried that people might register crap teams then say they support their rivals side - but this hasn't happened.
CK: Are you going to miss the Vintage MG Convertible when it is handed over to the PlayerBoss 2001/02 winner?
Bez: Yeh, I can't say this one is worth a lot of money - but I've collected MG's for years now and you don't like to see them go. Our problem is that the site was launched later that we would have liked and I was away in the States when it launched. This meant that it's had very little publicity. There's very few people entered a teams, so they've a great chance of picking up the prizes.
Next year we're looking to link up with regional, and/or national, and/or international newspapers so we won't need a big marketing budget. This year it's about getting the game out and people playing.
IW: What other prizes are up for grabs?
Bez: Well it's up to the fans really. Because of our network, we can get hold of all sorts of football gear. We've actually appealed on the site for ideas. We can get signed shirts from numerous players, but there's no point in getting a Cantona signed Man U shirt as a monthly prize and only the Man U fans will be interested. We think we'll get a list of available shirts and ask the winner to take their pick. I want to take this further though and offer a round of golf, or drinks before a game, that sort of thing. Did you hear what Swany's put in? (CK: Yes we did and we hope it is shrink-wrapped before being posted off! Personally I'd prefer the round of golf.)
Editor's Note: To suggest prizes go to FISO's message forum where a Topic on this subject has been set up by Andrew Burns of the PlayerBoss team.
CK: Can the Pros win any of the prizes (they'll probably be sort of a bob or two!)?
Bez: No, they're just for the fans. But if I win outright...then I'll have a re-think and may keep the car!!
CK: What is fantasyfootballcheat.com about?
Bez: Basically it's a service for everyone playing fantasy football. We offer a team selection service, a newsflash service and a player database for the biggest and best fantasy games. We didn't go as far as we would have liked due to copyright issues. We do charge for access, but it's a comprehensive and one stop shop for fantasy fans - supplemented by FISO (of course). (CK: Glad of the competition! I started FISO in March 2000 (with IW's help) because of the lack of information out there for the fantasy football player so the more the merrier!).
IW: Which team did you enjoy playing for most: Manchester City, Barnsley, Portsmouth, Newcastle or Southampton?
Bez: Certainly not City, I didn't see eye to eye with the manager and I left determined to prove myself elsewhere. I had good times at all the other clubs, but it won't surprise many to say that the Keegan days were fantastic. It changed when Dalglish came along and I was disappointed because I felt that I wasn't being given a fair crack of the whip.
CK: We see you're currently registered with Ossett Town. How often will you play for them?
Bez: Well I can't play for five weeks as I got sent off last season. I couldn't believe that, but as it happens I'm in Singapore from Saturday and I'm not back until October. I've a few mates at Ossett so I've registered with them and hope to play a few games when I get back. I just love the game and nothing beats playing.
IW: How did you enjoy your first goal for Newcastle, a penalty against Barnsley, the sixth in a 6-0 win in April 1993
Bez: It was special because it was against my old team - just as well I scored. I wouldn't have taken it normally but Coley got a hat-trick and it turned into a bit of an exhibition game.
IW: How did you feel when your proposed move to Liverpool from Portsmouth fell through?
Bez: Sick, but these things happen in football, it didn't turn out too bad for me though. Yeh, you wonder what it would have been like, but there's no regrets.
IW: Even though you were injured, you came on at Peter Beardsley's testimonial and played for a few minutes. How did it feel to take the pitch that evening ?
Bez: Brilliant, I only was on for a couple of minutes but I couldn't have missed out on that one. The crack in the changing rooms was excellent with so many ex-players turning up. My mate Rob Lee recently had his testimonial but it was only the present squad who played. If he'd had a few of the ex-players I'm sure he'd have had a few more turning up. To be fair the game was planned as a serious pre-season warm up game.
CK: If you could only pick one goalkeeper, one defender, one midfielder and one striker for a PlayerBoss fantasy team (with no restrictions) who would they be?
Bez: Barthez, Ash Cole (or Harte), Bowyer (Beckham), and Hasselbaink. It's tough, but that's what it's all about.
IW: If there was one rule in football that you could change what would it be?
Bez: I think the games gone a bit soft, referees are blowing up for minor things - and I think this also frustrates the fans.
CK: How will you be determining assists or do you use an outside source for the data?
Bez: We do it ourselves, or should I say the guys in the office do it. Firstly, we want to keep control and secondly the outside sources charge a lot!
CK: Is there any advice you can give our readers who are going to enter a team in PlayerBoss?
Bez: Yeh, get a team in before September the 8th, you'll have a great chance of winning and a great laugh when you see some of the players selected by the so called pro's!!
CK: Any last message to our readers?
Bez: Yeh, let us know what you think of the site, if we get some good idea's I'll try and sort out a prize or two. The cost is £9.99 but you can also qualify for a free £10 bet and then there's the prizes. If you organise your own mini-league and get eight or more mates to play, we'll give you £1 back for each team. (CK: people can use the FISO message forum to provide feedback).
Many thanks Bez and we hope that PlayerBoss is a success.
Chris King (CK) and Ian Wild (IW) of FISO
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