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AI Experiment: City Minnows

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2011. N-power, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Sky Sports and Adidas team up in an effort to shake up the football league. They buy out eight English clubs, supply them with top training and youth set-ups, give them £50,000,000 each and give them professional status. Each of the eight clubs would now have one of the four brands as their main sponsor, with Adidas as their kit sponsor.

The eight clubs chosen are:

Evo-Stik League First Divison North: PRESCOT CABLES

8 miles to the east of Liverpool city centre, Prescot are seven tiers below mighty Merseyside clubs Liverpool and Everton. With the new money and sponsorship, will they be able to close the gap?

Evo-Stik League First Divison North: SALFORD CITY & TRAFFORD

Playing in such close proximity to giants Manchester United and Manchester City must be unnerving, but with new funding will Salford and Trafford be able to make in-roads into their neighbour’s territory? There’s even the added interest of Rhodri Giggs, Ryan’s brother, managing Salford.

Evo-Stik League First Divison North: DURHAM

Completing our line-up from the First Division North, it’s Durham. They’ll want to catch up to fellow North-East clubs Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

Evo-Stik League First Divison South: SHEFFIELD

The world’s first ever football club, but one that’s been overtaken by city rivals United and Wednesday. With both clubs somewhat on the wane in comparison to the 90s and early 00s, could this be Sheffield’s big chance to become the city’s best team?

Ryman Isthmian League Division One North: ROMFORD

The sponsors wanted a London club to balance it out, and Romford were the lucky chosen ones. Based in East London, they’ll have big rivalries with West Ham and Millwall, but Chelsea, Fulham, Arsenal and Spurs won’t be too fond of them either.

Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division: CAMBRIDGE CITY & OXFORD CITY

Both of these clubs are one level up from the others, and just one level off the Blue Square South. As well as this, their enemies Cambridge United & Oxford United are in the Blue Square Premier and League 2. Both fell on hard times recently, with both teams in the Championship as recently as twenty years ago. With a smaller gap between the clubs

(I’ve boosted each club’s reputation by 500, given them top training and youth facilities, put £50,000,000 extra in the bank, turned them professional and added their neighbours as ‘rivals’, if they weren’t there already)


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2011/12 Round-Up

Ryman Isthmian League Division One North: ROMFORD

East London’s Romford didn’t use a whole lot of their £50,000,000 on players, choosing to splash the cash on just one man: Jayson Sowter, signed for £5k from Ringmer (yeah, me neither). However, they brought in a further 20 players on free signings or on loan, so the squad was bolstered for the new season.

Inconsistency would be the key to Romford’s season. Their first six matches: two wins, two draws and two losses. They were much more consistent in the cups, getting knocked out at the first hurdle in the FA Cup, the FA Trophy, the Alan Boon Cup and the Essex Senior Cup.

Overall, a surprisingly quiet season considering the media attention around the club. No shock results, no meetings with the other teams in the City Minnows Project, no push for promotion or relegation scraps. The media predicted that Romford would finish 13th but in reality it wasn’t quite as good. A final placing of 15th is disappointing but you would expect more signings in the summer.

As for Romford’s local rivals… West Ham were promoted to the Premier League, getting 100 points and going up as champions. Millwall flirted with relegation but eventually finished in 16th place.

Final Placing: 15th in Level 8.

West Ham Placing: 1st in Level 2.

Millwall Placing: 16th in Level 2.

2011/12 Round-Up

Evo-Stik League First Divison South: SHEFFIELD

Sheffield were much more aggressive in the transfer market than Romford, bringing in over a dozen free transfers but also shelling out an incredible £230k on defender James Scott from Fleet, £35k on Phil Shead from Bishop Auckland and £500 on George Miller from Preston.

It wasn’t a great start to the season for the Yorkshire club, losing three of their first five league games, but things soon picked up. The club even held the top spot in the division for a few matches but by Christmas they were sitting in the playoff positions.

The cups were more of a mixed bag, seeing the team go through the first qualifying round of the FA Cup but getting knocked out of the FA Trophy, the Doodson Sports Cup and the Sheffield Senior Challenge Cup. They were eventually knocked out of the FA Cup too in the 2nd qualifying round, by BSN club Gainsborough.

With no more cup matches to worry about Sheffield were free to concentrate on the league. They lost just four matches from February to May and finished in 4th place, qualifying for the playoffs. The semi-final went smoothly, seeing off Midlands side Stamford 2-0. The final was even better. £35k signing Shead scored the first, Girdler added another then youngster Andrew Gascoigne finished it off. Final score Sheffield 3-0 Quorn. Sheffield were going up!

Meanwhile, in League One, the Sheffield clubs battled out for promotion but neither could manage to get themselves into an automatic spot, and they ended up meeting in the playoff final. United saw off Wednesday 2-0 to go up to the Championship. It’s another season of third-tier football for Wednesday.

Final Placing: 4th (promoted via play-offs) in Level 8.

Sheff Utd Placing: 3rd (promoted via play-offs) in Level 3.

Sheff Wed Placing: 5th in Level 3.

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2011/12 Round-Up

Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division: CAMBRIDGE CITY

Cambridge’s transfer activity was quite muted. They didn’t spend any money at all, but they did bring in 22 players on free transfers, including Blaine Hudson from their city rivals Cambridge United.

Cambridge had the best success rate in the cups of any team we’ve looked at so far, getting to the FA Cup 2nd Qual Round (but getting dumped out by Harrogate) and making the Quarter Final of the Red Insure Cup, where they went out on penalties to Hemel Hempstead.

They performed quite well in the league too, threatening to reach the playoffs. They shared the spoils with Oxford City, losing 0-1 to them at home but beating them 1-0 away. Eventually they finished 9th, just five points off the playoffs. A season of rebuilding for the club which will surely be bettered next year.

City have the smallest gap of all the City Minnows between them and their city rivals. Cambridge United had a very similar season to City, finishing 8th too, just nine points off of a playoff place.

Final Placing: 8th in Level 7.

Cambridge United Placing: 8th in Level 5.

2011/12 Round-Up

Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division: OXFORD CITY

Oxford City are of course in the same league as Cambridge City, and their summer of transfers was very similar. 24 players brought in on free transfers but no one brought in for any money. Saving it all for a rainy day, perhaps?

Oxford were much more impressive than their university rivals. Just a handful of losses all season meant they were challenging for the title, and their cup performances were decent too. Worthing and Grantham were seen off in the FA Cup but they were beaten by a last minute Maidenhead goal in a replay in the 3rd qualifying round. They also got through the first round of the FA Trophy.

The period before Christmas was a great one for Oxford, winning seven in a row and going unbeaten for 13 games. Unfortunately it just wasn’t enough for them and they finished the season in 2nd place, losing out on automatic promotion to Chippenham.

Expectations were high for the play-offs and Oxford made short work of Hemel Hempstead in the semi-final to set up a clash with St Albans for a place in the Blue Square South. Sadly it just wasn’t to be for City, letting in two early goals and eventually going down 1-2. Still, it was a good season for a club predicted to finish 7th, and they’ll surely be fancied for promotion next year.

Just like Cambridge City & United, Oxford City & United had spookily similar seasons. United finished 4th in League 2, just missing out on automatic promotion, and they failed to go up via the play-offs.

Final Placing: 2nd in Level 7.

Oxford United Placing: 4th in Level 4.

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2011/12 Round-Up


So we’ve seen how four of our eight teams got on but how did the other do? Prescot Cables, Salford, Trafford and Durham all play in the same division, the Evo-Stik League First Division North.

Prescot Cables:

Prescot Cables brought in an astonishing 34 players on free transfers and loans, letting go just seven players. This left them with a huge squad and plenty of players at their disposal. They were expected to finish 13th and they far exceeded that, eventually finishing 6th in the league. They did quite well in the Liverpool Senior Challenge Cup too, reaching the Quarter Final but losing to Southport Reserves.

They bossed two of the other City Minnows in the league too- doing the double over Durham and getting four points from Salford, although Trafford did manage to do the double over them.

Overall a good season for The Lions, sitting three points off a playoff place with a lot more to work towards next season.


Rhodri Giggs’ side didn’t set the world alight. No money was spent on transfers but 21 players were brought in on frees. A terrible run of 16 games without a win at the start of 2012 saw Salford drop down the league into their final position of 16th place. They did reach the semi-final of the Manchester Premier Cup though, losing on penalties to FC United Reserves.

They did the double over local rivals Trafford but other than that they didn’t have much luck against the City Minnows. A lot of work is to be done next season if they want to progress.


Again, no players were brought in to the side for cash but a host were brought in on free transfers, but it just wasn’t enough for Trafford. They had the worst first half of the season of the eight clubs, flirting with relegation. They did pick it up towards the end and eventually finished one place above Salford in 15th.

None of this is very surprising though as they do have the lowest reputation of all the clubs, and relegation was predicted by the media. Regardless of their league failure they did go on a decent cup run in the Doodson Sports Cup, and shockingly managed to win the Manchester Premier Cup, beating the FC United Reserves 1-0 in the final.

That win will surely see another boost to their reputation and who knows what next season could hold…


The final team on our radar brought in 26 players on free transfers. The media expected a bottom half finish for the North-East club but they pleasantly surpassed expectations, finishing just behind Prescot in 7th place. Indeed it was a bad run of four draws at the end of the season that stopped them grabbing a play-off place.

It was a quiet season in the cups for the club, getting knocked out in the 1st or 2nd round of everything they entered. Certainly something to build on next season, though.

The City Rivals:

Prescot’s rivals Everton and Liverpool both had disappointing seasons by their standards, finishing 10th and 7th respectively. Neither made much of an impact on the domestic cups- Liverpool were humbled by a Rooney hat trick in the 6th Round of the FA Cup.

Trafford and Salford’s rivals United & City were much more successful. City finished second in the league and got to the Semi-Final of the Champions League, but it was Manchester United who really stole the show. They secured a second historic treble, beating Charlton in the FA Cup final, winning the league, and in a bizarre case of déjà vu, won the Champions League to complete the treble against… you guessed it, Bayern Munich.

Durham’s North-East rivals were a mixed-bag. Sunderland finished 8th in the league, which would surely be considered a success. Newcastle were further down in 13th, not great but well clear of relegation. Middlesbrough were steady in mid-table of the Championship, also finishing 13th, just 8 points off the play-offs.

Prescot Final Placing: 6th in Level 8.

Liverpool Placing: 7th in Level 1.

Everton Placing: 10th in Level 1.

Salford Final Placing: 16th in Level 8.

Trafford Final Placing: 15th in Level 8.

Man Utd Placing: 1st in Level 1.

Man City Placing: 2nd in Level 1.

Durham Final Placing: 7th in Level 8.

Newcastle Final Placing: 13th in Level 1.

Sunderland Final Placing: 8th in Level 1.

Middlesbrough Final Placing: 13th in Level 2.

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The Rest of the World


Winners: Man Utd

CL qualification: Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Fulham

Relegated: Swansea, Aston Villa, Blackburn


Promoted: West Ham, Nottm Forest, Watford

Relegated: Portsmouth, Coventry, Peterborough


FA Cup: Manchester United

League Cup: West Brom

Community Shield: Manchester United


Champions League: Manchester United

Europa League: Benfica

EURO 2012:

Winners: Russia, Runners-Up: England


Cavani to Chelsea for £27M

Modric to Man City for £37M

Fallaini to Chelsea for £17.75M

Srna to Man City for £16.75M

So there we have it, the first season over and done with. The media is expectant of our City Minnows in 2012/13, believing that most teams will be there or thereabouts promotion come the end of the season. How long do you think each team will take to close the gap between them and their bigger brothers? Will they ever close the gap? With the majority of the money still in the bank, surely they'll start to push on...

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used to watch cambridge city when i was at university. they used to be blue square south and at one point cambridge city were in pole position to go up to the bsp and cambridge united were due to be relegated. unfortunately they hit hard times with a dodgy chairman involved somewhere

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