A study from Nottingham Trent University sport psychologists suggests that the people who spend the most time playing, researching and thinking about fantasy football may have worse mental health than other users of the game.

Their research found that players who engaged the most with the game were more likely to suffer from low mood and anxiety when playing or thinking about it.

Additionally, they were more likely to report disruption to their lives, such as at work or in personal relationships.

Data was gathered from almost 2,000 fantasy football players, who played across a range of different platforms.

Fantasy football is a game where users can create their own virtual team of players, and win points based on how their players perform in real life in their respective matches.

The Bolton News: Fantasy football players with high engagement in the game were more likely to have poor mental health (PA)Fantasy football players with high engagement in the game were more likely to have poor mental health (PA)

Players can compete against each other in public leagues or in private ones with friends or colleagues.

This study is thought to be the first of its kind in studying the psychological effects of playing fantasy football.

Are these findings a concern?

The study, conducted via an online questionnaire, suggested the majority of players experienced no mental health concerns regarding their fantasy football.

But there were significant correlations between poor mental health and players’ levels of engagement.

Dr Luke Wilkins, an expert in sport and exercise psychology at Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, said: “While it’s positive that only a minority report mental health issues in relation to their fantasy football, it is concerning that higher levels of engagement appear to increase the likelihood of experiencing issues with mood and anxiety and seem to be having a negative impact on players’ lives.

“Fantasy football is unwinnable for the vast majority that play and it is possible that the more a person is invested the more negatively impacted they will be when they ‘lose’.

“Our study highlights the general positives that the game can bring, but also warns of the potential negatives, and provides justification for the idea that more should be done to monitor the amount of time being dedicated to playing fantasy football.”