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I help to run a five-a-side tournament with my scout group; we tend to have around 40 teams which split across 4 age groups. We can't run full round-robins at the group stage, so instead we run 4 games for each team, award points and put the best teams through to a knockout round.

The fixtures are all pre-arranged the day before, so if a team doesn't show up on the day it's sometimes not possible to avoid the situation where a bye has to be awarded to some of the teams.

In this situation, what's the correct score to award? We award 3 points for a win, 2 for a score draw and 1 for nil-nil. In practice goal difference often decides who goes through to the knockouts.

FWIW my own answer would probably be to award a score draw, which might avoid introducing an unfair advantage without penalising the team for missing a game?

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There is no simple answer to this - you can probably make a reasonable case for any result apart from a loss. If this is causing a big problem for your tournaments, you probably need to rethink the tournament structure - have you considered e.g. running pools for the first but of the tournament, so the effect is limited to just that pool, rather than affecting the whole age bracket?

  • Thanks Philip, after running this thing for 4 years I'm still feeling like a novice! We do do this when possible, so we'll usually have (depending on the number of entries) one or two groups of between 4 and 7 teams each. We then draw them against each other randomly in 4 games. We run the whole tournament in one day on 6 pitches so we could never run a full round robin! – Angry Dan Jun 8 '15 at 8:09
  • If you can mange two pools of 7 = 14 teams, you're playing (14 * 4) / 2 = 28 games. With that, you can do a full round robin for up to 8 teams - after that split into two pools. At 12 teams, split into three pools of 4. The numbers will vary a bit according to how many gangs you can actually manage, but things always get much easier if you can actually do round-robin. – Philip Kendall Jun 8 '15 at 8:40
  • Philip is right, in this case you could just allow a 3-0 win for each team for the game against the not showing up team :) And it depends on the game length too – LeReferee Jun 10 '15 at 8:54

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