The Giant Fruit & Nut Premier League held its first offline FPL draft last season. Just like an online draft, an offline FPL draft is a snake-style draft format league.  While the weekly quest for three more points and an eventual – hopeful! – Fantasy League win provides adequate enjoyment the highlight of the season will always be the initial draft. And while having an online draft can be exciting, it doesn’t come close to matching the levels of enjoyment provided by an offline draft.

After gathering in a the function room of a rock pub in Glasgow, we had a quick prize giving for the previous season and then set about putting together our squads for the forthcoming season. The success of the day has made this year’s draft day the highlight of the 2017 calendar. Here are 8 tips on how to organise your offline draft

1) Pick a date

Seems simple, but getting everyone in the same room at the same time can be a challenge in itself. The draft can take about 5 hours depending on the size of your league so aim for a Saturday or Sunday rather than an evening. Don’t worry if the whole league can’t make it. Picks can be made remotely using a group chat on Whatsapp or another messenger service. Just have someone update the group chat with each pick and give those that can’t make it 90 seconds to reply when it is their turn

2) Pick a venue

While someone’s living room may offer home comforts, you may not want 12 people crammed on your furniture and inevitably spilling alcohol on your carpet. There are plenty of pubs that will be able to offer a function room for free on an afternoon. Have a search on google then ping out some emails. Things to consider for a good evenue.. a) wall space (for your draft board), b) WiFi/mobile internet access to ensure your group chats work and c) whether or not they serve food (5 hours is a long time)

3) Create your draft board

I’d recommend two sheets of A1 paper for a 12 team league. You can fit 6 columns on each quite comfortably. Below is an example

4) Buy a stopwatch

Someone is going to have to keep time between the picks. You don’t want your draft to lose the excitement and pressure of being on the clock. Nominate a time keeper and get them to announce when there are 30 seconds and 10 seconds left of each pick

5) Bring some extra player lists

Everyone should be organised enough to bring their own but having a few spare sets won’t do any harm – there’s always someone that rocks up on the and tries to wing it. You don’t want to have to share your own list which may include your player preferences. Having some copies of the Togga cheatsheet handy is also a good idea. You can use this to allocate the next available player if someone doesn’t make their pick in time (or you can decide that they just miss a turn).

6) Establish break times

Having some scheduled 10 minute breaks are vital to the success of an offline draft. These are the moments where you analyse, applaud and laugh at the picks that have been made so far. They also offer an opportunity to use mind games as you tease your mates about hoping to pick up Stewart Downing in the next round and smirk when he takes him on his next pick. You also need the breaks to ensure there is time to get another round of drinks in. I recommend breaks at the end of rounds 2, 5, 8 and 12.

7) Make sure you have a record of all the picks!

The last thing you want to do is spend a day choosing players and have no record of the events. If you have all the picks on a group chat then that certainly helps but an easier solution will be to just take a photo of the draft board. Togga has an option for Offline draft which allows you the commissioner to enter all the picks at a later date. Once they are input you are good to go!

8) Enjoy the rest of your night

By the end of the draft you will be buzzing for the season to start. Managers will already be gloating about how much better their team is than everyone else’s and favourites will be decided based on facts that will have no relevance in one month’s time. Conversation will float around why X player is going to be a star this year and why Y player is over rated. An entire evening of football chat. What more do you want?