New Year, Old Rules

29th January 2019By: Matt Sims

The long-standing Fantasy League assist rules have been around before the term "assist" was commonly used in football and even before the Premier League existed. Although there have been a few small changes since, it's not so straight-forward as to always giving an assist to the player providing a direct pass to the goalscorer as highlighted by two Tottenham goals scored on New Year's Day.

The Premier League's official definition of an assist is effectively awarded to a player who passes the ball directly to the goalscorer, who then scores with no further intervention. End of.

This means that no assists are awarded for instances such as the smallest of deflections on a pass to the goalscorer, goalkeeper parries (either from the goalscorer or another player), rebounds off the woodwork and goal-line clearances - which may seem rather harsh and all of which have always constituted an assist in Fantasy League.

In recent times, Opta (official stats providers for the Premier League) have generated the term "Fantasy Assist" - not officially an assist, but extended to include a pass from a player which has taken one deflection off the opposition to the goalscorer (irrespective of the extent, including goal-line clearances and goalkeeper parries), own goals and rebounds off the woodwork.

However, even then there are several discrepancies between that and what is regarded to be a Fantasy League assist.

Take the first Tottenham goal against Cardiff, which was generally not considered to be an assist by feed/game providers but did constitute an assist according to our own rules.

Kieran Trippier provided a right-wing cross that reached Harry Kane with no intervention. Kane's touch was then mis-controlled (twice) by defender Sean Morrison before Kane swooped on the loose ball to score.

By definition, an assist is the last pass to the goalscorer, so the fact that Kane temporarily lost possession is deemed irrelevant - the cross from Trippier to Kane still constituted the last pass to the goalscorer.

However, if the intervention would have come before Kane would have received the ball, this would have been regarded as a "Fantasy Assist" by Opta, but not by ourselves - as it is reverse logic for an "incomplete pass" to be worthy of an assist and a "clean" pass to be not.

The Fantasy League assists criteria also states, "If the last touch is by an opposing player (accidental or otherwise) and significantly alters the speed or direction of the ball (excluding a goal-line clearance) then the assist is removed and no assist is credited. This could result from a defensive deflection, a blocked shot, a dodgy back-pass or a poor clearance."

Whilst the term "significantly" could be considered subjective, it is usually abundantly clear as to whether a deflection affected the position in which the goalscorer received the ball from their team-mate.

For Tottenham's second goal against Cardiff, a pass from Heung-min Son to goalscorer Christian Eriksen was attempted to be cut out by opposing player Harry Arter. Although Arter undoubtedly got a touch on the ball, Eriksen did not have to move from his existing position to receive the ball and therefore any change of direction had to be deemed "insignificant".

For this reason, Son was still awarded the assist.

To view the full Fantasy League assist rules, visit the Scoring Points section of the Game Guide and expand 'Assists'.

Please note that the third party live scoring feed does not award assists for penalties, own goals, goalkeeper parries, rebounds off the woodwork and insignificant defensive interventions - such assists are manually awarded after all of the day's matches are completed, so not to be overriden by the live scoring feed.


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