Readers of my Live Blog last night and into the early hours of this morning will be aware of my feelings on Leagues.

Overall, it remains very difficult to see how the benefits of this change (and there are some) can possibly outweigh all of the negativity and resentment FI have just whipped up.

If you invented a new game today and did it on a Leagues basis – there is no reason it would not work. The concept in itself is fine. In fact, it may well be objectively better than what we have.

But we don’t have a new game. We have a game where lots of traders invested on the basis of the game rules. We have never seen a change that is this destructive of current valuations. It particularly hurts those who hold a lot of the most popular premium players.

That shock and anger will continue to play out all over social media and very understandably so.

Yet. 

When  the smoke clears, most of us will still have portfolios to manage. We will need to make decisions both at the high level of how much we have in FI at all plus what changes to our portfolio we may or may not want to make.

To do that on some kind of rational basis, rather than just raw panic, we need to know what the landscape might look like once Leagues is live and rolling.

So that will be the purpose of this article, and I will leave all the rest to one side for now.

Knowing the best way to operate under Leagues will be the work of many weeks of articles/scouting. I am expecting this to be an extremely busy few weeks as we try to steer through the choppiest waters we have ever seen. 

But let’s see what we can work out today that might help us.

Leagues: A Second Look

Overnight once I had time to absorb things I found myself seeing some advantages and potential opportunities in Leagues. Bear with.

My overall view remains as above – I still do not think these advantages are worth the unhappiness they have caused existing users.

But from the perspective of a new user or a user who for whatever reason is happy to continue in the game, here is a fresh perspective on how I think it needs to be played.

We are used to thinking in terms of the jackpot. Getting our big win. 

Big individual wins no longer happen. We will not be netting 0.28p on a match day with Kroos or Bruno anymore.

This is what wrecks the price ceilings of players particularly at the premium end.

However that doesn’t mean we cannot win that much overall. 

In Leagues, traders will need a different point of view. We will need to approach this not as an individual Star platform where one player gives us a jackpot. But as a team sport where dividends rack up due to us holding multiple winners.

For a satisfying match day, we want to be netting winners potentially across all 5 leagues on the same day

So, if we look at the last major match day Sunday – we would have:

EPL – Silver – 10p available

Ligue 1 – Silver – 10p available

Bundesliga – Bronze – 3p available

Serie A – Silver – 10p available

La Liga – Bronze – 3p available

Star – 2p available

Media – 1p available

So, in an absolutely perfect day with a mix of Silver/Bronze match days (which will be the normal) we could win up to 39p.

In the current system, a perfect Silver day where we held the top GK, Def, Mid, Fwd, Star and Media would be 39p too, which is coincidence.

A perfect Gold day in the old system would be 91p though, much higher. 

Under Leagues we will see some Golds and more Golds next season than this disjointed one. So that 39p “perfect day” can and will go higher for the Golds and potential “perfect” payouts can creep to 44p or towards 50p on a match day. 

But I would expect most to be Silver and Bronze for the forseeable and 39p is a realistic marker.

Yet we don’t get many perfect days. Winning 39p as the “perfect” Silver/Bronze day where we hold every winner under Leagues is obviously unrealistic.

But how many of the potential 36 winners (!) on a match day can we realistically hope to get, if we were to field a suitable portfolio that is geared towards such a concept?

Let’s look at how much of that 39p on the table we can realistically take home with a “squad” based portfolio. 

Later I might muse on what that portfolio might look like. And how would it be different from the sort of players we have now? Would it be that different at all?

This next bit of analysis may take me a good hour or so, so check back in a bit. (it is 10:37 now). 

**Edit – having checked the fixture calendar last Sunday was a generous example – particularly in this disjointed season there are a lot of Bronze days currently scheduled. So I will bump the 39p “perfect” target down to 32p.

What if...?

Let’s look at some recent match days and see what would have happened under Leagues, and then judge whether we could have actually succeeded either with a current portfolio, or whether we can easily adapt what we do for future. 

This is taking time as I have to do it manually – far as I am aware – nobody pulls this data in this Leagues specific format because.. why would they?! Until now.

This is the most recent big match day, Wednesday 3rd March:

On this day Ilicic was heavily rewarded as star with 0.28p. Jonathan David getting 0.14p and Guilbert at Strasbourg 0.14p and Benitez the Nice Goalkeeper taking 3p.

We start to see the impact straight away. All the above obviously still win, but they get far, far less for their troubles. Ilicic taking just 4p rather than 28p!

This is what I am talking about when I say this is no longer about the Star Man. This is about squads. And this is why we see those charts circulating showing massive reductions in the payouts of the most expensive/premium/popular players of 75% or more.

That prize pool is both less (I am yet to set to work on calculating exactly how much smaller – if anyone has this to share please let me know). But the main impact is that it is spread across a wider group of players. 

And this is where you get to the sunny side.

The guys who previously missed out are taking a slice of this prize pool. 

Based on what traders knew a week ago, I would suggest a good trader could easily be holding:

– Maguire (1p), Dubois (1p), Ilicic (4p), Insigne (2p), Berardi (1p). So they can be walking with a 9p dividend from that day, which is not bad on a day with 3 leagues in play (all be it quite a generous one with a Gold and Silver). 

Now. In the coming weeks I will have to evaluate players from a different perspective in Scouting. I can do this (with a lot of effort) I just have to prioritise different things. 

In this new world, the above list of players to be holding would still be good. Maguire, Dubois, Ilicic, Insigne, Berardi. All could be taken forward. None were at outrageous prices in anycase. That’s nice for an existing holder – not all is lost here, far from it.

But if we adapt, we may well think it sensible to hold players like: 

– David, Mounie, Diawara. Possibly even Iheanacho if we saw form/fixtures align and we expected him to play. Maybe Guilbert too, actually. 

I would back myself to be able to adapt enough to pull in at least a couple more of these. So, let’s say we walked away with something like 12-13p from Wednesday. That is actually not bad and it is a very realistic total that on good days we can exceed. And on bad days underperform, of course.

So, we can expect to retain much of our existing portfolios particularly in the area I mentioned last night – the undervalued and not exactly popular players like Insigne who are still really strong are going to get on just fine.

And there will be a batch of others who used to be nearly men like Jonathan David who just became a lot more sensible. Even Haaland is now a lot more sensible. If people wanted a change that brought the Haaland’s and Mbappé into it more – then this is better than any matrix tweak in their favour.

The problem is, are they at prices already that are still unsustainable because of the decrease and the limited “star potential” players now have in a more distributed system? 

They probably are (or were, rather) and £4-7 would leave them struggling.

However… I will say this on Haaland. With a long term hat on – Haaland is a better and safer FI prospect than he was yesterday. I jest not. He is no longer dogged by being clearly inferior to many other forwards in the scoring matrix.

Incidentally, Haaland won media on this day, not match related. 

Let’s look at another Match Day example to see if these themes continue. I suspect they will in general but I also expect some match days appearing to prove it wrong! 

As this is manual work at this stage, we will have a small sample size of match days to work with. But I am using my experience here as well and we know that the better players will rise to the top. We will encounter some odd match days where lots of one hit wonders win, but the better players win more often it is just probability.

Quick Question on Bronze Days

Just a quick thought as I go based on a question from a member about Bronze Days. 

My practical worry with Leagues is the randomness of the fixture calendar, particularly this season. With games being rescheduled left right and centre, we don’t know the full calendar ahead. 

So there is something of a lottery here – FI are outsourcing exactly how fun the product is to the fixture scheduler. I can see a world, pretty easily actually, where with enough Silver or above days in play we are going to have fun watching a squad of players get over the finish line and win in multiple categories, enjoying a more steady but constant flow of dividends into our balance. 

Which in many ways – is quite suitable to a stockmarket dividend system, possibly more suitable than a jackpot model.

Yet. If what we get served up is a succession of Bronze Days, of which FI have little control, that is going to be something of a struggle. It is a problem that will fade – in a more normal season we should see games clumping up more. But Leagues will need to start well and the current fixture calendar is looking a little thin. 

What FI should really do is come out with an offer similar to during COVID where they temporarily widen the net to make more days Silver and cut those Bronze days down. So if there is a single practical issue to campaign on that might actually get listened to beyond the (justified) complaints about the whole fiasco – this might be it.

I’ll look at another Match Day example next.

Ok one more question...

And it’s a very simple one but an important one.

“Do you think FI survives this?”

I am not sure. And throughout all the shenangians of 2020/21 I’ve obviously discussed all the risks and weighed them up for what must be a book the size of Game of Thrones (In fact I know it is because I checked the word count!). 

But until last night I was never seriously worried. Something like a dividend reduction was feasible, and far from terminal, that could be explained. I thought they would only do it as a last resort and that seems to be the case. They know how bad that looks. Still – people could understand this part I think.

But I did not expect them to smash the value proposition of the product with the introduction of Leagues, hitting their most popular and widely held assets hardest. Nobody asked for this. Nobody using the platform anyway. The marketing department asked for this. And possibly whoever is trying to get FI into new territories.  

They must have known the impact this would have. And they obviously believe that the change is worth it and they have other stuff coming that can pull it round. Maybe they do. And the more I look into Leagues, the more positive I feel about it and I can see us having fun and profits in the system.

But for me. You just have to wonder whether with this they have just made too many enemies. The product might technically be in decent shape. But if there are so many angry and upset people constantly dogging them wherever they go, they will really struggle to get a hearing from new customers.

If marketing is the goal, what is worse? A slightly daunting 5 league system that might put some people off, or a social media timeline full of angry former customers who feel betrayed and are talking up legal action? I know what I think. 

I would love to speak to them to try to understand what was in their heads here because either it is staggeringly naive or they know something we don’t. I will try to arrange a call with them.

Ok really will be looking at Match Day examples next. If however people do have questions please send them in and I am very happy to help out via DM as soon as I get a second.

Subscriptions

Sorry for the delay I’ve been thinking about subscriptions. I am getting lots of messages essentially saying they love the content but may be taking a break from FI to see how things settle in 2-3 weeks. Totally understandable.

I’ll make a more formal announcement in due course today but my initial idea is this: I’ll give any member who asks the opportunity to skip their next payment (or if they have made a recent payment in March (or near enough I won’t quibble) I could refund this). 

Obviously, anyone who is in a position to pay for the month and is happy to do so, that is very much appreciated. But also I completely understand that people may have financial difficulties, want to retain access to manage their portfolio and next moves effectively, but have a real need to budget in these difficult times.

So basically I will set up an email with a subject header and people can email that to me with a subject line and their email address and I’ll make sure the payment is skipped. I will have to do this manually in every case and there is a chance I miss one or two so please remind me if this does not happen and I can fix it.

If you are one of the half dozen or so who have cancelled today ( 🙁 ) let me know and I will find a way to reinstate you on this basis too.

Ok back to the match days.

Questions!

Ok maybe not. Questions flooding in and I like answering them.

“I know the premiums a very badly hit which kills a lot of the “big money in the market” would you avoid the older players too? And do you think they’ll maybe increase divs for the euros? (Wishful thinking)”

Good q’s. I recall last night (or was it this morning it all bleeds into one at this point) touching on the fate of the veterans. 

So yes as I said above this is bad for former Star Men. We need to adapt thinking going forward to having squads of players that can win a clutch of dividends, rather than relying on a star to bring it all home. (Don’t shoot me but in isolation, I think I actually like this idea if you ignore the obvious elephant in the room for a second).

Bad news for big hitting premiums as discussed.

It is also a problem for the veterans. Because whilst many could feasibly net 50% or more of their value in just a single good match day, they now cannot come even close to that. 

They are now under much greater pressure to return enough dividends to warrant the price in the seasons remaining to them and so do suffer from this. When you could grab their big win then hope to get out before it was much more sensible. Now you know you have to stick in for the longer term.

Of course, in a similar way to how IPD players were hammered after the last major change – people are likely to oversell the veterans and they may end up looking decent value again before too long. Even if you hold them actually into retirement and place a print out of those shares fondly on your wall. That sounds crazy but in the near future that will be a viable option.

I will cover the specifics of this in Scouting as we go starting Monday.

Now as for the Euro. I probably would expect them to do some kind of promotion for this. They sure as hell need one and the Euro is a perfect opportunity.

FI have taken a huge gamble here. They knew what reaction this would bring, they surely must have. So they are either 1) Trying to get to Panama (I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist who believes they have deliberately set out to shaft everyone – I am more inclined to consider incompetence or 2) potentially a longer term vision being prioritised that they think is worth this massive hit. 

So assuming 2) they have to have some ammo in the locker and a plan for how they get out of the hole they have dug for themselves here. And Euro’s would be the time.

Ok seriously. Match Days. Really.

 

What if...? Part 2

Next match day table – manually pulled. This is last Sunday. It’s quite a generous day, 3 Silvers in play. Not many of those scheduled but with the way fixtures are moving around, it is hard to see exactly what is coming from the raw calendar. 

Next example I’ll find a day that really sucks, with say 4-5 leagues playing a Bronze. But let’s look at this fairly attractive day 3 Silver 2 Bronze day for now since it is so recent. Oh and remind me to look at a CL or Europa night too.

What does this tell us?

This was Bale’s big day. He racked 0.28p for top mid and Star and 5p for media. Let’s see what happens when we apply the new FI Socialism filter. (Leagues is a system Jeremy Corbyn would love and I will make no further political comments probably ever!).

Bale is hammered much like any Star is now.  Even though he picks up both Star and Media too he ends up with just 5p. Not 28p. Mother. of God. It may take a while for that not to shock me but that is reality now.

Other big winners were Eriksen and Badiashile, 14p each. New system? Just 2p each. 

Gikiewicz, Augsburg keeper was the top keeper that day earning 3p for that. But he now gets shafted. This exposes another wrinkle – as a Bundesliga keeper on a Bronze he is not eligible at all. Even though Gikiewicz was apparently the best keeper according to the matrix, it doesn’t count!  

That win goes to 3 Silver keepers instead , Pickford, Donnarumma, Larsonneur who now share that 3p between them at 1p each.

This is a niche issue unique to keepers but that seems like an oddity and an unintended consequence that a keeper can be top scorer yet be passed over for THREE lower scoring keepers just because somewhere at the other side of the country 22 more men are also playing an additional match THAT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR ORIGINAL KEEPER. Agh. Things like this make me crazy. It is just weird. Tell me FI think about these things like some of us do? They do right? 

Ok my keepers outburst is over. Bigger issues are in play.

So. We’ve just discussed the losers. And there are big losers as these stars or top performers are seriously getting their winnings reined in. But there are winners who were losers before. And some pretty good ones.

Alexander Arnold. Christensen. Jones. Kovacic. Son. Donnarumma. Pickford. Ghoulam. Toloi. De Paul. Lukaku. Rebic. Larsonneur. Abdelhamid. Andre. Tchouameni. Jovetic. Diony. Gouweleeuw. Grilitisch. Bailey. Emerson. Puertas. Felix.

All of these players win dividends when they would not have before. Quite incredible.

This is the point I making last night on Twitter in response to that very good spreadsheet which highlighted how much the stars are losing. Some of this is just gone as there was a dividend reduction. But the primary reason that stars are losing is because those prizes are redistributed to the squad.

And this is why any sensible strategy in future will be squad based. I’ll think about how that changes a portfolio perhaps next week. But I would still imagine a portfolio perhaps of around 60 players may now prove optimal. Really strong, well targetted players who can hoover up dividends like this each and every week. It is possible to achieve that. 

And I think we will be able to acheive it without torching our portfolios and starting again. I have a pretty consistent recommendation not to put much more than 10-20% in premium players. Not that I predicted they would be slammed by Leagues – this took me by surprise.

But generally because this is not where value is in the market, never was. And secondly because as players with very high expectations on their shoulders they are always at most risk of being battered by changes, be that on the pitch or on the platform. So I am hoping, if anyone listens to me, a fair few member portfolios are set up in that way and they may feel a bit better than they otherwise might.

Because a lot of the sorts of players that I generally favour in Scouting are coming out well here. 

I would say that it would be very reasonable for a good trader to be holding the following last Sunday:

– TAA (if picked up after the dip, anyway), Jones, Kovacic, Bale, Son, Eriksen, de Paul, Lukaku, Badiashile, Tchouameni, Bailey. This would all be consistent with my recent scouting. The combined return from these players would be 20p. Really not a bad haul. And I can see how getting all of those all of the line last Sunday would be both fun and rewarding.

Tchouameni in particular is worth highlighting – this sort of cheap player had a low price already and has a lot to gain from this new more squad based system. Like he would have done here, he has so many opportunities now to earn dividends and gain momentum. Continuing to seek out value like this will be a big focus of scouting ahead.

So, there are lots of parts of a good portfolio that can be left to run, assuming of course that you are continuing with FI and are going along with that ride. Either because of supreme confidence (I have actually spoken to such people today!) or because prices are so low they feel they have very little choice (And I suspect that is the more common view right now). 

But we can improve our results there. Now we know to adapt and we are playing more of a “Squad” game than a “Star Player” game, there are other players we could definitely bring into our net from that bunch.  

You may branch into someone like Pickford or Donnarumma. Our Squads will most likely need keepers but I am a bit cautious here for now until I have done more research anyway. The answer will be yes but at just 1p per time that is a lot of wins our stopper needs to be racking up. Presumably, they will get sold down to prices where that is viable. But maybe just hang fire on the keepers for now.

Someone like Christensen, certainly. The high baseline CB should enjoy a golden era of relentlessly underwhelming yet ultimately pretty decent 1p dividends. I am sure we will find many of these at Bayern, Chelsea, City and the like. 

A Rebic would work now where he would not have before. Again another big goalscorer former IPD style player that people wanted to be brought in via a matrix change. No need. Here it is. 

Like I said for Haaland or Mbappé – this sort of player is, in the sort of irony that I only ever see on FI in real life, more relevant to the new scoring system than ever. So after the price adjusts, you can expect me to become a Haaland convert where as before I would not be doing my job if I didn’t highlight that he was a points shy freeloading waste of a portfolio slot. I exaggerate. 

But he will have no such sentiment issue now from those thinking men and women sceptical of his viability. And neither will some of the lesser goalscorers like Rebic, Andre Silva, Immobile, Belotti etc. This is good for them especially as their prices were already smashed by the IPD change.

Andre from Lille, for sure. He is a big baseliner with a goal in him. Could be a regular magnet of those 1p and 2p dividends throughout a season. It was difficult for him to get his head above water often enough to be worth it, unless as a punt pick like you might get that classic occasional winner Maximilian Arnold at that perfect time when everyone has forgotten about him. Now, longer holds of such players is much more viable.

So, with our existing Scouting style portfolio we might have made 20p last Sunday. If we factor in how we would have adapted in a Squad based world we culd have added 2-4 more little wins there. So we probably bump ourselves up to 24p or so that day.

Really not bad. It’s not the thrilling adrenaline hit of getting 33p for a single big day from Bale. But it’s pretty good, and it is more reliable. We can expect more consistent results from this system.

We have yet to get onto the Match Day mechanics of this but I am sure I will, maybe not today. 

But imagine how Bale was chased hard because he was the Star Man? That is much harder to do. There are a big variety of winners now that will all compete for attention, so big on the day pumps are harder. And as a flipper you have a harder time knowing who to target now. I will think more about on the day trading tactics for this later, not now.

 

Question Time

“What chance would you give for the possibility to get our net deposit back?”

Yikes. What a horrible question for me to answer, Sir. I am not a lawyer! 🙂

I have no idea about this, to be honest.

I have seen on social media some people who want to make legal claims and can totally understand why. I’m not a lawyer – we know the terms are that they can change the rules we have always known that. They’ve done it for years. And almost always in our favour until recent times. FI seem to indicate their lawyers signed off on this so they must be confident. 

But it seems at least contestable given previous positive statements they have made – people can very reasonably claim to have been led up the garden path.

Would I champion such a move personally? No, not at this point. A legal fight seems messy, long and miserable. And if we hit that point, there probably won’t be much left in the pot to dish out at the end even if it were successful. 

The best hope we have of restoring our position in my view is a recovery which is shaky but possible. Unfortunately, that becomes far less possible if FI are mired in legal challenges and all the negativity that brings. So I think if we pursued this legal route, we may take FI down, but I would expect it to ultimately take everyone down and leave nobody happy. It will also be a very long, bitter, and stressful fight that I am not really interested in. 

But I am not a lawyer and if people wanted to take that route I’d understand completely. This is just my personal take and it is not because I am not upset with FI for this decision – it is because I think a recovery gives a higher percentage chance of making me better off from here than a legal battle does – and bogging FI down in that probably hurts my interest as much as theirs. Difficult. It might look more appealling in future if we hit a stage where FI really does look done. 

I do not think we are quite there. But they are on very, very thin ice after this.

“Do you think each foreign league could now have it’s own media monitor?”

Yes. I would expect that.

I would suspect that this whole decoupling of the leagues is entirely to set that course where it is easier to sell the product in each country because you can just focus on your home league as a new trader. 

And home media would be part of that.

If we were privy to inner workings at FI I would guess this expansion to other countries is the “masterplan” as they see it and FI may have decided that this short term hit is worth it for the long term vision. Perhaps they think whilst things are bad anyway they might as well just make all the changes they want?

But my word this is one hell of a gamble and based on the information I have (they will know more than I do I am sure) I cannot agree that the benefits of Leagues are worth crushing your existing customer base at such a difficult time when the product was on the ropes already.

There may be lots of nice plans ahead and like I say in the above in depth on Leagues and the game itself – this is all fine. But there is a huge risk that they will struggle to get oxygen for even the best game if they are hounded to the ends of social media by unhappy former traders or traders who feel “stuck”. 

“Quick question if you don’t mind and obviously it’s a particularly difficult one to answer but would you have any inclination to deposit at this stage? As your analysis suggests a lot of players have benefited from this and are still going for pennies. There is money to be made… but it feels a little like a ‘fool me twice’ shame on me scenario”

Oof. Good Q.

I’ve made clear how unhappy I am with the way this was handled, and the timing, I hope. I have also tried to stay objective today and look in a fair and balanced way at what the future under Leagues might look like.

And it is not an unattractive picture. There are lots of elements I like. From bringing in popular players like Haaland from the cold, to the focus on Squad rather than Star, and I acknowledge that new joiners may feel slightly more comfortable playing entirely in their own league at least straight away.

I have mainly been in the mindset of an existing holder here. Someone who might have the sort of portfolio full of good value performance players and (hopefully) not quite so many premiums along my sort of 10-20% guideline). And we are really thinking about damage control – if I could or wanted to change my portfolio, what should it look like? And is the portfolio I have now still good to go?

The conclusion is looking like “Yes, the sort of portfolio Adam at FIT would like is generally going to do pretty damn well under Leagues”. It is no accident that is true – it is because we spend half a bazillion hours working out who the best scorers are. 

But we will have to adapt a bit too as I have been highlighting in the match day examples which is very acheivable and I am even looking forward (after a break tomorrow where I just want to lie on the sofa under a blanket eating crisps) to looking at Scouting with fresh eyes on Monday.

The reason I am thinking about this from an existing holder perspective is that most of us will have existing portfolios – and even if we wanted to sell – we can’t, for all but the most rock bottom prices. So we may feel like regardless of our view, we just have to be very British about it and try to do the best we can in the situation we find ourselves in. That’s what I’ll do, and that is why I will be producing more content than ever in the weeks ahead.

If considering new money however, you are obviously not stuck, you are very free. And here you are evaluating two things: 

– Can I make good enough choices from here to put together a Squad portfolio that is very suitable for Leagues and is very likely to do well and grow assuming FI recovers? This is something I can definitely help with and will help with. Confidence on this one – very high.

– Second thing. You have to evaluate whether you think FI will recover at all. And nobody knows the answer to this, it really is just a gut feel and just do what feels right to you is the answer.

Of course, the conventional textbook advice is that it is exactly days like today where you buy (blood in the streets etc) but that typically applies to things you are reasonably certain will still exist a year from now!

So the person going in today has a chance at a big gain but also risks a wipeout. And I can’t and won’t tell anyone what to do there. The only thing I’d say is that certainly now if you put money in it really, really does have to follow the golden rule of it being money you are content to risk that you do not need.

If you need the money to keep your life going you cannot put it in. Ever. Especially not now.

“Would it be wiser to hold a bigger portfolio now to catch more winners, say 50-70?”

I think so.

Depending on time of year and whatever is going on I generally say 40-60 is optimal for most people. With 30 for reasonably aggressive types. Lower than 30 is generally best for very small portfolios where the holder is happy to bet quite aggressively. 

I rarely suggested more than 60. Beyond 60, we were often getting outside of really optimal picks and picking up some mediocre stuff. There were never 60 slam dunk value choices.

Maybe now there is.

It is early days but I suspect you are right here – 50-70 for most people is going to be quite good. Wide enough to give all the benefits of a diverse port, and catch a clutch of winners come match day. 

Not so wide that we are carrying lots of passengers in our portfolios. I can imagine that some people might suggest you should now hold 200 or so players to catch ’em all.

No. This is not pokemon. We do not have to catch ’em all.

This would be a good approach if, and only if, you are a fairly lazy trader who didn’t do any research or monitor their choices. 

Whilst the pool of winners has widened, as you can see in the two match day examples, which I am sure will end up reasonably typical, the quality players are coming through to claim the lions share of dividends. This is just probability. We want to lazer focus on these for optimal results.

It may be a good while before we have freedom to do much about this sort of thing! But good to be aware of nonetheless.

“I have managed to get some bids matched on Immobile, Maguire, Demirbay and Asensio all at 10p or lower. Would it be the best strategy to target this sort of price range? Say players equal or less than 20p?
 
I would say they look good choices, yes. 
 

The player who benefits most is that undervalued, underrated player that is actually decent and can regular bring in those dividends. I mentioned Goretzka last night. And a lot at Leverkusen. 

Scouting is actually chocka with examples as finding these has been a focus anyway – they are capable of winning in the current dividend structure and remain attractive for Leagues, in some cases, much more so. 

 
Another area I would target is Haaland, Bruno, Kimmich, Mbappé, Sancho. Foden. Fati. The premium/hype gang that actually have underlying quality (or do now).
 
It actually feels uncomfortable talking about making these cut throat bids on desperate folk today. But from a hard nosed trading perspective, these players, as discussed last night, can achieve £3-4 in the new system on a rational basis.
 

A particularly focus might be someone like Haaland or Mbappé, or Felix or another player who has traditionally struggled in the FI matrix but has been popular anyway due to the real world attraction of them.

I am deadly serious when I say Haaland is ironically now a more secure performance prospect than ever. Loss of media dividends hits him for sure. But this was likely to mainly be a short term glut on the transfer before, like most players his brilliance becomes fairly routine. 
 
Now, you can be confident in consistent returns throughout the career if you believe in his ability. 
 

So, less than 24 hours ago we were looking at them dropping from £6-7 to a rational value of £3-4 with shock and awe on the Live Blog. Today, we look up at £3-4 as an enviable target price. Picking them up at £1 or so therefore..? Strong move if you are wanting to buy.

What a day.

 
“I am not sure if anyone has mentioned this but since the new dividend restructure is not in place until next month, what should we do with players who threaten pb? Should we sell them on the peak or hold and collect the dividend?
 
Ah yes. Almost forget. The big dividends are around for a month.
 
And we have the trial of the extended dividend deadline. And the prices are absolute rock bottom so you can buy a 0.28p dividend win for less than that, probably. 
 
Will people chase those if they look like winning? Probably. That is such a tempting prospect there will be at least some bulls out there for that I would suspect.
 
We’ll get some winners in this 30 day window most like. That’s our thing.

So. the question is how you use any opportunity that may present.

If you would feel more comfortable with a little less cash in FI right now, and I imagine that is plenty of people, you might indeed want to sell on that peak and cash out, or if there isn’t a peak because nobody chases, just collect the dividend and cash it. 

I would particularly do this when that player is unwanted – then just try to get any kind of price. If they don’t fit the new world of Leagues particularly well get rid. 

If they do fit Leagues quite nicely, the dominant strategy is probably going to be to keep the player and keep your big dividend unless the sell price is very, very obviously bigger than the dividend you would get.

So if you are inclined to try to pick up some of the cheap players on offer, you could use any dividends or money from sales to tweak your portfolio so that it very nicely suits the new “Squad” strategy that will be as familiar to me as Klopp’s 4-3-3 for the foreseeable (with some tweaks along the way). 

 

 

“I really appreciate how rational you are and how you try to find positives in this, to see how to set portfolios past April. I guess it’s thanks to you I’m “only” down 85% as I had just 10% of my port in Brunos, Sanchos, KDBs etc. But little does it matter today with Alberto, Sabitzer, Guerreiro and the likes down just as much.

Hopefully this settles down by the summer and FI have something up their sleeve to improve things at last. If there’s any positive from their actions in yday (and last few weeks), it’s the fact they really should be in good shape financially, right? RIGHT? :D”

 
A bittersweet question if ever there was. I get some nice emails from time to time from people who consider they have improved portfolio performance by joining me here on the site. I have never once before been thanked merely for limiting someone’s loss. A miserable sign of the times.
 
But, it is better than it could have been which is something. 

I would also say that life is far from over for Alberto, Sabitzer, Guerreiro and other solid players like this under the new Squad based strategy with Leagues. Leaving aside for the moment the question of FI stability, should FI continue (Note: this member elsewhere in the email has already said they are sticking in).

 

I always, and ESPECIALLY today, trust our own judgement of value. Because these prices we see on the screen today? Absolutely nothing to do with a rational price. They are to do with panic and fear. 

And that is perhaps not unjustified. But you have already said you are riding this out and in order to be able to do that, what you need is a portfolio that can excel under Leagues. 

It sounds like you probably are most of the way there because, the main positive from today is that on analysis of Leagues – the majority of a good portfolio from recent site scouting/strategy is going to remain good going forward.

So, coming to do the part of the question about positives (hear that sound? That’s me scraping the bottom of the barrel). 

This might be one – the type of portfolio I favour will almost certainly prosper under leagues. No fluke. We have stacked the odds heavily in our favour deliberately. That of course assumes FI keeps going but we cannot control that bit. 

So do not stress about low prices for a Sabitzer or similar. If FI settles – Sabitzer is extremely likely to win and extremely likely to rise once more. In fact, he is likely to benefit strongly from Leagues because his wins will be more consistent and he can keep momentum, rather than spiking every now and again and then going quiet for weeks.

If you were holding really bad players who could not bounce like Sabitzer can – that is when you have real problems. Such players should be sold at any price if you have no confidence in them in the world of Leagues. But let’s just make sure we are getting this right and not dumping good players – remember that plenty of players who were strugglers before may now come back into it – Morata etc. I will cover this in Scouting soon.

Positives from FI’s actions you ask. Not a popular topic. I’m not in much of a mood for this myself but you could say:

– Leagues is actually quite a good system in itself (the main issue is it savages existing users)

– FIT style portfolios will be good for Leagues. Very good, I suspect. So we may already be in decent positions for that. And we can make them better with tweaks.

– FI may be taking a massive hit for what they see as a long term gain, possibly involving expansion into new territories etc. 

I am currently really struggling to see how they can have come to that conclusion but they obviously have because they knew exactly what impact yesterday’s decision would have. So if you really, really want me to try to dig a positive out of that.. FI knew what would happen and did it anyway, suggesting they believe they have a programme ahead that gets themselves out of this hole. Whether we believe that? Open question.

More Match Days

I am going to go away for 20-30 minutes and look at another match day example, just to make sure that the conclusions I have reached above are staying consistent. 

As I say whilst this is a small sample size of Match Days, we are using experience and judgement as well here. Whilst prices and the match day structure have been flipped on their head – this is still the same scoring system and we have about 10,000+ hours of analysis of it under the belt that will tell us who is coming out on top consistently. Not quite everything has changed. A lot. But not everything.

Back shortly.

Here is our next example. You can click to make these bigger, by the way. 

The other two match day examples have been fairly good quality match days featuring at least 2 Silvers. I have found the most atrocious match day I could find recently – last Saturday when Sancho was Star. 

This is grim because it’s a Saturday, THE match day of the week, and on offer we only have 1 Silver in the Bundesliga and then 4 Bronze, 3 of which are particularly offensive because they have exactly 4 fixtures. The lowest odds Bronze Days. 

These are the days that we don’t want to happen because they are hard to look forward to. It could suppress a whole week of trading as it approaches. 

As I said above – if FI are preparing any kind of measures for tweaking Leagues to appease traders – top of the list is a temporary widening of the catchment area to account for the disjointed nature of fixtures this season. I would think that amongst the very least they could do as an olive branch.

Now this would have been particularly unpopular if this took place under Leagues because Sancho, a very popular player, had his big day. And like any Star, he has had his wings seriously clipped. 

No more 28p dividend. And in it’s place a paltry 4p. And he is lucky that he was in the one Silver league that day or it would have been 3p. Yikes. So this is why we saw those charts showing the projected yields of the top end of the market absolutely obliterated. Because they have been.

A common theme, for all of our Star Men. This is a Squad game now, folks.

The other winners from that day, Messi, Sosa, and Skorupski are also losers in the new system. All taking 14p before except the keeper with 3p. And again, we see this wrinkle with the Goalkeeper. Skorupski in Serie A had the game of his life, 80 points or so ahead of second placed Kobel. But Kobel is taking the dividends in the new system… 

Now. On this grim day, we still have 25p up for grabs if we were to play a perfect game and net all winners. Which isn’t bad. But also obviously not going to happen. But how close can we get? 

With a generally FIT Scouting friendly portfolio that would get the following reaction from me…

(I seem to be relying more and more on gifs to communicate as we approach hour 24 of the blogathon. What will I do next?)

Anyway.

An FIT approved portfolio would be… pretty average on this day actually.

Stones, check. Alba, check. Mbappé and Messi possibly but my scouting reviews there swing between hot and cold depending on price and circumstance.

Sancho, check. Dahoud I occasionally pick out but would not prioritise so won’t include. Lewandowski, check.

So 6p. Ok 7p I’ll give myself 1p for Mbappé or Messi.

It’s no 0.28p Sancho thriller like we would have got, that is for sure.

But… 7p on a miserable 4 Bronze 1 Silver Saturday where the winners did not fall particularly kindly? Meh. Could be worse. One of these days thrown in occasionally is acceptable. If we hit a spell where 2 or more of these come in a row… it is going to be a problem. FI should build in some kind of protection against dead rubber Saturday’s and Sunday’s. Really important if Leagues is going to fly in this corona hit season.

But wait!

What if you gave us chance to prepare our portfolio for Leagues and we could adapt? 

Ghazi would become an option. Adama, sure, if he was a regular again. He is a player who really benefit from Leagues in his pomp at peak hype when he was in great form in the EPL. He would be able to turn those performances into wins more frequently. 

Kheher… maybe not this exact PSG defender but there will be PSG defenders well within range, Marquinhos the obvious one. And similar for Pereira – he is not perhaps my PSG mid of choice but Verratti? Paredes? You betcha.

Bentancur. Yeuch. Tradtionally he is a trap for people who shop on high baselines and a handful of headline stats but yeah. Maybe. In Leagues world Bentancur could feature here more often. We will have to adjust our thinking.

Someone like Dahoud I would say yes IF you thought he was going to start regularly. He is always a contender when he does, in an occasional winner rather than challenging every week sort of way. In Leagues, a player like this would get in the door. But I would prefer Bellingham because he is equally good and easier to sell should he perform.

I would not jump immediately to Sorloth… but he could get in there provided he starts more regularly.

So yes. Whilst results on this poor match day were average at best, there is scope to improve our performance on this sort of match day if we adapt a little bit.

Next, for the final Match Day re-run of the day, I will go and find us a decent CL / Europa night to look at. Back in 20 or so.

 

More Match Days

Our next example after a short break. This time I have looked at the recent CL games on the 23rd and 24th – as if they were one of the QF Gold Days that are to come. Hopefully this will highlight any changes in what we can expect in these knockouts ahead.

 

The headline. It’s not a good one.

In the same way that Star Players suffer from a lack of huge, explosive individual payouts, so do CL and Europa QF onwards gold nights.

This season, I have been never far from a reminder about just how important these are. That is because you could be winning a 0.28 dividend on a day that is less competitive than most Bronze Day’s. 

This was a huge chance for stars to shine – access to these was important, and there was a lot riding on a team making the QF onwards knockouts, and having a good run to the semis or final. 

Now? Not so much.

These are still well worth winning and remain a very positive factor. They are Gold Day’s contested often amongst just 2 sides (and possibly some hangers on who won’t get the scoring bonus). 

Yet, where before we were hoping for a potential 33p haul from Star Player with media.. we now may hope for 6p. Best case.

Yikes.

Again. This really hits the premiums and to a lesser extent the general first teamers from the biggest sides expected to go furthest in these competitions. 

The type like Mbappé or Neymar, Bruno maybe. Players who can not only steal the Star player but will likely wrap up media too both in the run up to and on match days.

Should this mean that CL and Europa involvement becomes a bit less important to our thinking? Definitely. I would say for teams like Monaco or Nice now, or AC Milan perhaps, they now suffer less and a lean back towards such assets might be smart.

However, I will definitely stop short of selling CL/Europa involved players! Quite the opposite. These are still great things to have in the locker. Yet, we will want to adjust price targets and ceilings accordingly, the same way we will now have to for potential Star Men. 

Again, this is a Squad game now. CL and Europa fixtures are Gold Day’s and are valuable. And not only Gold Day’s – they are just extra fixtures. The more games your man has the more chances to win you have. It’s good.

Yet, we will no longer be bending over backwards at this time of year to stack our portfolio specifically with Europa/CL players as we may once have done.

If prices had remained stable last night – this could have been a serious problem. We would have players that could potentially be now significantly overvalued.

As things are…. prices have dropped so hard that such players are by now utterly undervalued if you believe that FI will still be a thing six months from here. Or, more commonly, if you aren’t sure but you are stuck in there anyway. 

CL and Europa involvement remains a very positive factor. But it will be a less dominant factor from now on.

 

So, if we look at these games themselves, what can we see? 

Well, it’s not super exciting here. With so few teams, we are getting the winners we expect. Obviously again, our Stars like Azpilicueta and Kroos are getting a fraction of the rewards they would have enjoyed here.

And yet. Other worthy players are getting a slice of the pie. We have new winners in Alaba, Kimmich, Lewandowski, Mendy, Alli who would not have been rewarded before. Arguably, a fairer result perhaps.

What is interesting is that in 3 cases, both keepers and the second Forward we have none CL winners so even with the modifier, it is possible for some random Ligue 1 midweek games spoiling things. Though, it is quite unlikely, certainly it is quite hard for them to take the top spot. 

Would a portfolio consistent with FIT Scouting come out well here? Well, yes, but then it isn’t that hard when there are only two teams. Azpilicueta, Sane, Lewa, Cancelo, Kroos all regulars. Musiala happily appeared in my wonderkids series just days prior to this.

Where we lose here is that we predicted that Azpilicueta win and in this case were hugely rewarded for it. Like, insanely so. Overly rewarded for it, if we are honest.

Now, predicting such a win is still going to be great news but it is no longer going to be the bonanza it once was. Rather, we need the consistency of regular wins. Fortunately for Azpi holders – he can do that. In fact possibly more so in this Leagues system.

Questions

Going to share this one in full because it may be one of the nicest emails I’ve ever had, even if the circumstances are grim. 
I plan to get off in about an hour, so if there are any more questions, let me know and I’ll try to cover them and if not, I will be back Monday. I am going to take a rest day tomorrow. 
 
There will be interesting Scouting to cover on Monday – putting aside all of the Reasons Why This Is Bad for one moment – for me as an analyst it is quite interesting to be taking a new perspective on things from here, strange as that may sound.
Oh I am sharing this one in full not just because it is nice, but because it actually reflects a lot of sentiment I have heard today:
 
“Your content has been invaluable to me both in terms of my enjoyment, success and interest in the platform. So much so that I’m in the lucky position whereby even if all my current portfolio came to a zero value I’d still be at an all time profit, due to your assistance in the past before pulling money out for a house deposit. With all of this in mind, I am more than happy for you to keep the 3 months I’ve just paid and let’s work together (well you will be doing most of the work) to get out of this situation and hopefully build towards a brighter future.
 
And anyway it’s not a loss until you sell right… 
 
*if anyone is experiencing an emoji there that is the size of an actual house I cannot explain it and I cannot fix it so please just ignore it at this stage of the night. 
 
So my question is, and I know this is not an easy short answer, but:
 
a) when would you recommend jumping in to buy more?
 
b) how do I go about valuing players now in this current market? Should we take a % of the current rational values on the dashboard (obviously different % of media and performance)?
 
c) should we factor FI’s success/failure into these player values or do we have to just make a choice with how we think it’s going to go and stick to it?
 
I love FI and don’t want it to die and if I can still enjoy it after drawing a line today then I want to try, but equally I don’t want to shaft anyone that is trying desperately to get out. I know that’s not the trading way, but it just feels wrong to attempt to buy someone for 1p right now.
 
Again thank you for putting the hours in to support us all. I’m in a much luckier position than most, but it’s hit me pretty hard so thoughts go out to everyone else.
 
If you do manage to speak to FI, I hope they listen because you are one of its best hopes right now.
 
 

Where do I start.

Would I recommend jumping in to buy more? Actually kind of covered this one above. So I won’t cover this extensively but I guess the first answer is whether you should. Feeling optimistic? Happy to bet the money? Well this is the bottom and it really cannot go no lower and still exist. The value available, assuming you have confidence in the platform, is potentially shocking. 

For example another member asked me via Twitter about Monaco’s André who I mentioned at some point today and thought he could get a bid of 3p. 3p! Like. In probability terms the chances of him not returning that are probably the equivalent to being hit by lightning.

Yet, all of the thoughts above about just absolutely never using money you are not able to lose apply today more than ever. And they always apply.

I would not however think you absolutely have to go in today to seek value. How does this play from here? Either continued negativity. Or FI come out with some kind of news that starts turning sentiment, very gradually. But trust does not recover overnight, not in just one glitzy announcement. 

Not from here. So I would not in any way feel like you absolutely must get this “bottom”. Even if prices were to rise 25% from here and you were more confident in the platform a few weeks from now, you’ll be fine from there I would think.

Oh look I did write a lot even though I said I wouldn’t. How very frickin’ me.

Going to park this one for now as we have a statement…

 

FI Statement

Ok so. There is some useful stuff here about how we have come to discuss “minting” a lot and perhaps an insight into why these continued to be pushed right up until very recently.  We can discuss that in a second.

My main thought on this is that it doesn’t really grasp the issue. Dividend reduction, struggling market, it wouldn’t have taken a great deal to get traders to make that link and come to understand that the current payouts weren’t sustainable. This much could have been explained.

What people are really upset about is the upending of the game rules, which seems like a choice. You could have kept all of that the same just with reduced payouts if you wanted to. And if they did, I wouldn’t be here blogging away now. There would have been unhappiness, but perhaps not this sense of betrayal.

I want more on this. Why was it deemed a necessity to make the Leagues change? Even though after a day of looking into it, I have come to accept Leagues as a decent game in itself that could well be fun and rewarding, I am not convinced that it is worth it. That making so many enemies of people who were once your biggest fans is actually beneficial in the longer term.

We have obviously all noticed a recent uptick in minting which as it says here was a way to make money and balance the books. 

They tried to mint more shares to cover costs. Tried to get the market going. It proved difficult. Key Performance Indicators were not being met. And then only when they realised they really had to reduce dividends did they stop issuing and announced the reduction. All very late, I am sure. And apparently minting is no longer in operation and will not be until they notify us.

This is a story that rings true to me, at least. I have not been on the track where I have believed this was planned as a deliberate deception. I think it is more that things haven’t been running their way and they have just been reacting to one event after another, leading to some very surprising and highly questionable decisions often as they tried to steady the ship. 

This is probably the version of events I think is most likely. And is better than long term planned deception. But not much better. It is definitely true that they maintained the appearance of business as usual whilst troubles were brewing. But then most companies do.

Does this statement change anything? Not really. I am not sure it was wise to put it out because it fundamentally does not address the real complaint – unless I am much mistaken it is not the dividend reduction people are upset about it is the upending of game rules which made lots of players, particularly, some of the most popular players, extremely overvalued. 

That to me, still feels like a choice about the product that you are making because you believe that it is better in the long term, and outweighs the damage being done in the last 24 hours.

And that leaves the open question, not at all answered here, why? What is it about Leagues that is worth upsetting this many people for?

That FI statement has ruined the mood of we’re all in it together gallows humour that had developed over the evening. There is no massive smoking gun there of huge wrong doing but it does not address really any of the things we might want it to either. 
I’ll finish the question I was answering from that amazing guy earlier. And then you know what, I might go to bed. Because this has been such a long 28 hours since The Bomb hit for everyone and really it might be best if everyone just does the same.
 
b) how do I go about valuing players now in this current market? Should we take a % of the current rational values on the dashboard (obviously different % of media and performance)?
 
I would recommend throwing that price chart out of the nearest window. In fact, I will go and delete it right now. With the dividend structure reduced on it’s own, we could probably just chop off a % of it. But with the way it has now been redistributed it is extremely different.
 
I will re-establish some baseline numbers in due course as soon as I really can. And in the mean time, you can always rely on Scouting for me to discuss value in players. And if I don’t mention the one you want, you can always ask me.
 
These numbers require more work than the quickfire maths I was running about 26 hours ago. But I would be confident that the numbers I produced last night are not far wrong, and I would be content to use it as a relevant guides when considering what players can really be worth under the new system: 
Premiums: £3-4 i.e 3.5 out of 5 stars minimum for performance and strong media too
 
Good performance player, like Mount or perhaps Kroos, 3.5 out of 5 stars to 4 out of 5 stars in my usual ratings. £1.50.
 

Obviously, I need to go into more detail to adjust for age, for position and all the usual things.

Nor will you really be paying anything like this for a while, when picking up a player.

But these numbers really just serve to remind us of one thing: should FI get back on an even keel, these are rational prices someone could expect a player to be worth.
 
c) should we factor FI’s success/failure into these player values or do we have to just make a choice with how we think it’s going to go and stick to it?
 
That’s a really good question.
 
I would say no.
 
I think the decision goes in two parts: 
 
1) How do I feel about FI? Do I believe the rock bottom prices are tempting enough to outweigh the risk that FI don’t make it through this? I can’t and won’t tell people the answer because I do not know the answer. I’ve shared some views based on my experience but I cannot call this.
 
2) If you have decided you do think the rock bottom prices are worth the punt, that is when you would want to start using the Guide prices from just above in that £3-4 and £1.50 range to judge just how undervalued these players might be. In those terms, you can find players that are such incredible value propositions it will literally blow you off your chair. But there is a reason for that – see point 1. 
 
There is a third thing, which is actually the most common situation I suspect. I think most readers will be in a similar place to me.
 
I’m not sure what will happen. But selling today in the worst panic of all time, for prices that are just absolutely as rock bottom as it can really get, is that a good option? 

Or is it better odds to just stick in and see what happens, hoping for a recovery either through a surprise outbreak of diligent, steady competence (I am at this point prepared to give up my work from home lifestyle and become the FI CEO if it helps but only if I am granted UNLIMITED POWER).
 
Or it may recover due to some unforseen plot twist? Social media will not leave you wanting for takeover conspiracy theories or whatnot.

So you aren’t entirely confident to hold but you certainly aren’t bullish and falling over yourself to buy everything going. But you are also kind of stuck where you are. And hopefully, you may, having read the analyis of Leagues today, feel like if FI does pull through you have a halfway decent portfolio to take into that because as covered it is really quite a good game. And I may even prefer it to now.

But we cannot escape the issue we have been returning to time and again. Why is any of that worth all this? It just isn’t. Unless FI really have something in the backpocket that we are unaware of that when revealed makes this look rational… it is just really difficult to pin down why anyone would think this was a good idea right now.

Not the note I particularly wanted to end the day on. But it may well be an appropriate and fair one.

Actually, I’ll end with this. The messages I’ve had today from members and readers on Twitter too have been incredible. I probably do not express enough how much being able to do this for a job has changed my life for the better, and it could not be done without you. Or indeed, without FI, so you can imagine how thrilled I am with them right now for putting that at risk.

In answering DM’s, writing here, emails and what not, it has felt like something endured together, and certainly the gallows humour and often highly inappropriate gifs kept me going throughout today. 

Never hesitate to contact me if I can answer any questions, or indeed if you just want to let off steam about this situation I am good for that too. 

I will be taking tomorrow as a rest day to recover my powers. But I will be back on Monday, with more views on how the landscape has now changed and what that means for the players we are holding, even if we would rather not be holding them right now.

Maybe let’s try to take at least a day to forget about FI and focus on other things in life. Like ensuring Mrs FIT doesn’t eat alone for the third consecutive night. She’ll appreciate that.


Best,


Adam.

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