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Fantasy Football Scout Interview

Fantasy Football Scout was nominated for the Best Football Niche award. We asked them to talk about the awards, how 2010 had turned out for FFS, future plans and of course, who he would vote for in the awards. Here’s the interview:

1) You’ve been nominated for Best Football Niche Site, chosen by both fans and industry experts, how does it feel?

It’s great to be nominated. Positive feedback from visitors is without doubt the best form of recognition, so to be nominated for an award where readers play a part in the process is an honour. It’s also great to be recognised by our peers – there’s a lot of strong football sites out there and I’m delighted we’re amongst the nominees.

2) What kind of year has 2010 been for Fantasy Football Scout?

A massive one. Bizarrely, the success of the site and the growth we’ve had caused me a major problem and put me personally at a crossroads in the summer. Increased traffic and the demand for more content meant that the cost in time and money had got to the point that I had to make a big decision if I was to stay in the game. I could no longer justify the site as just a hobby; I had to start thinking more commercially. It’s a shame but, after almost four years, it wasn’t something I could put off any longer. I think it’s something that a lot of start-up sites experience when a little success arrives and server costs and investment of time begins to escalate.

In the end I decided to bring in an old colleague, Chris, from my magazine publishing days and, with his investment and guidance, made the decision to create new extra content for members with a subscription fee. It was risky and not a decision we took lightly. We made sure that we surveyed our readership first and took on board all that feedback before we moved ahead with things.

We invested heavily in the content – gaining licences for Premier League fixtures and OPTA statistics; we were determined to provide members content that would genuinely deliver something that couldn’t be found elsewhere. I had an idea that there were Fantasy Managers who wanted to know facts like how Leighton Baines compared to Patrice Evra when it came to touches of the ball or successful crosses – the kind of stuff I used to ponder whilst being ignored at parties. We’re delivering this level of stat and analysis for Members and, so far, it’s gone down well.

It’s all been pretty crazy; in four years the site has gone from a hobby attracting a couple of hundred visitors a day, to a sustainable business attracting tens of thousands. It’s no longer the small, indie football blog I created a few years back, but I’m determined to keep that ethos and roots intact as the site continues to grow. Plus of course, this year’s developments mean I’m still able to justify my involvement – at least to myself anyway.

So yeah, a big, massive, crazy year. There you go. You did ask.

3) What do you think has been the key factor in your success?

Passion and pure luck. Always a good combination.

The site was born out of the passion and enthusiasm for Fantasy Football and it’s been maintained by that and will carry on growing through it.

When I put the site up I had no idea that I’d find a community out there who shared the same level of interest in Fantasy Football. I’ve managed to find one that shares my obsession and at times exceeds even my level of commitment. You’d struggle to find another football community as active and passionate – they are the lifeblood of the site.

Out of that community I’ve managed to find a small group of contributors who have been absolutely essential to its success over the past two years. Without their help with editorial, administration and development, there is no way we’d have got to where we are now.

This is where the luck really comes in. Every step of the way, when I’ve needed advice or help, I’ve managed to unearth someone in the team or close by who can provide what was needed. By accident I’ve managed to surround myself with people who are both dedicated, knowledgeable and incredibly loyal. I can’t explain how and why it’s worked out like that – I’m just going with it and hoping it continues.

4) If you were casting a vote for your any of your fellow nominees, who would it be?

I’ve no list of community buddies to pull out here, so I can’t go down the obvious route. I’ll give a shout-out to Ibra at Never Captain Nicky Butt because his site is in the same field and, as a writer and pundit, he is prone to flashes of brilliance. The geek in me also gravitates towards Zonal Marking – they’ve been a very welcome addition to my bookmarks.

5) What’s next for Fantasy Football Scout?

This season has given us a decent foundation and we’ve now got to build on that. The next phase of the Members area is about to roll out before Christmas and we’ve got at least two more phases of development in mind before next season. We’ve only just started with the Members area – we’re determined to turn it into something that Fantasy Managers find invaluable. Outside of the Members area we will be working to up our editorial content and build further on the incredible community we’ve managed to attract.

So I’ll spend the year throwing more time into the site until I lose all my friends or drop dead from exhaustion. That way, at least the funeral will be cheap and Fantasy Football Managers will still have a great place to go for injuries and stats. Everyone’s a winner.

6) Have you seen the Castrol Football Rankings? What do you think about them, and who do you think is the best footballer in the world at the moment?

I’m certainly aware of them but to be honest they operate at a different level, my head lives in a more humble space where Kevin Davies’ key passes are more relevant than whether Messi is a better player than Ronaldo.

Player indexes have their value and they make a great platform for debate and discussion but I’ve pretty certain that if I started soaking up the stuff that the Castrol rankings supply, I’d literally burn out. These days I have to be pretty single minded; If the information isn’t likely to earn me or my visitors Fantasy points, then it gets ignored. I’m a little worried that one day I’ll start applying the same rule to conversations.

You can vote for Fantasy Football Scout in the following award category:

Best Football Niche Website

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