State of the Market - Live!

Lots to talk about today in a very choppy market. I’ll be doing the usual weekly State of the Market analysis, but I will keep this open as a Live Blog since we are also expecting:

– an FI announcement at some point today on media contingency plans

– More clarity from Serie A about how to finish the season (maybe). 

As and when we get any news or I have additional thoughts, I’ll add them here throughout the day.

(Bear in mind that the time stamp is the time I started writing, and with long posts, it can be minutes before it is published – you aren’t lagging behind!).

Live Blog Updates

This morning’s main article analysis is below, I’ll put the afternoon updates at the top for ease with the newest entries first in live blog style.


I think I will this Live Blog there for now but I’ll keep on top of this and may do more of these blogs throughout the week during this uncertain period. 

Latest from Serie A is that the Italian Football Federation’s meeting today came out with a list of courses of action including play offs, no champions, or taking current standings as final. 

All of those involve the season not being concluded at all which is a very real possibility. Do we really think Italy are going to have corona under control in 3 weeks? 

I’m no health expert but I’d bet they will not.

Will keep monitoring this but it does show that back in the real world there is nobody to hand out a bonus and make it all go away!

And FI won’t be immune from the real world either but the bonus does give things a very welcome lift for now.

Have a good evening all.


Before the announcement in this morning’s article I said I would be changing my usual approach to announcements and adopting a “wait and see” on this one, with some money sat in the balance.

Often, I tend to pre-empt the announcement and make sure I am already in position for when others follow in.

How does that feel now?

Pretty good, I’d say. 

If acting this morning trying to pre-empt it we may have logically gone for a Sancho or another Summer media pick. Actually, it’s ended up benefiting CURRENT media picks – an important distinction which is why Fernandes is pumping not Sancho or Bellingham.

It’s also benefited strong performance players, which if you asked many this morning were dead in the water.

So, I think it shows that you can’t predict every announcement and sometimes the best thing to do is wait. Most announcements have been predictable, I didn’t think this was. We can’t just repeat our formulas again and again and expect to win every time.

I currently regret a few of my surgical sales from the last week as discussed in State of the Market. But we can’t win everything and have to cover multiple possibilities. Had this announcement not come along, I might have been regretting not selling more. It’s always about trying to find that right balance rather than putting it all on black or red. 

On the whole though, I trimmed around 7% of my portfolio, I did not take drastic action and am holding many of the players people are currently buying, including Fernandes.

As for the cash sat on the sidelines, I have left it there and didn’t see a need to charge in. Whilst this is a great announcement and a very welcome shot in the arm, I’m trying to stay very aware that whilst the mood in FI is currently upbeat again, the real football world is very much not. 

We will not have seen the last twist and turn from corona virus by a long shot so I like maintaining some flexibility in my balance for now. 


Double IPD’s might have slipped under many people’s radar. But these could be huge with a value player on a hot streak and good fixtures on the way. Someone like Plea, Raul Jimenez perhaps. 


Looking at the ticker I can see plenty are going for the short term punt on some middling performance players who might win on a Europa day or similar.

Good move as discussed below but this is prime rat territory. Possibly even before kick off, plenty of those will be short term traders who will lock in the profit, not watch the game. 

And if they don’t win these players could get mass sold quickly.

For that reason, if we enjoy a big pre-game rise with a player like this, selling even earlier than the prematch rat, being an Uber Rat, if you will, might be the best thing to do rather than wait for an actual dividend. 

With players that have longer term value and multiple reasons to hold outside of just that game, that’s where we can stick in and try to win a dividend.


Overall, I’m impressed with how on the ball FI are here. The FAQ at the end has some good stuff. 

They are clearly taking all this seriously and doing what they can to help steady the ship. They seem to have a planned Euros offering coming in April, which as expected, was a target point for Key Strategy as it could turbo boost Euro 2020 players further.

This is still the plan but they also acknowledge the possible cancellation, and seem to be standing ready to come up with some kind of contingency if needed. 

Similar, with the last question about them reassessing things if 50% of football matches in eligible leagues are cancelled.

Having FI ready to intervene like this is a reason to be a bit more confident.

Solid management and unlike the previous announcement it’s very easy to understand. Competent.


What else. 

The £1,500 bonus window is long, running from now until 24th April much longer than the shorter term dividend bonuses.

This is clearly designed to keep people’s money in FI over the period, and creates a powerful incentive to do so. 

It’s smart and at the very least, for those willing to hunker down and ride out any impact of corona, this might soften any blow. 

I still think we need to stay sharp, watch developments closely and not let the bonus tempt us into risky trades that we might regret if a league is suddenly shut down.


Outside of immediately buying as many shares in Bruno Fernandes as possible (had that sewed up a while back!) there are alternatives we can consider.

First up, if there are any players you were sweating on in the last 24 hours, now may be a time to slip them in that sell queue and see if anyone bites. You aren’t likely to get a better chance than right now.

The risk/reward calculation has changed a bit after the announcement – performance players have a powerful short term incentive. BUT. The real world didn’t change in the last hour and in a week or two we can still be looking at no fixtures at all. You can’t win Super Gold Day’s if there’s no games.

Another consideration outside of the obvious players who are flying is the punts. Tonight’s CL games are still Bronze Day’s but technically have the payouts of a Silver Day. 

Wednesday’s CL games squeak into being a Silver Day now, but have standard Gold Day payouts. Same for the Europa on Thursday. 

Saturday and Sunday becomes SUPER Gold Day’s with disgustingly large payouts for winners. 

This can benefit strong performance players in general, for the short term at least fighting off fears of performance being “dead”. Looks very much alive. Ideally this will benefit existing holds. You could go for some more but again, only where you see value and you are happy to take them into next season through thick and thin – because thin could still be on the way.

An alternative might be looking for some value punts. Perhaps some long abandoned veteran like Payet who has crashed back into value range but can easily win the Double Gold (Just one example please don’t pump him! Other elite veteran players are available). From memory Scouting has a few of these this week already.


Wow. FI have brought the big guns out here which shows they were sweating. A £1,500 bonus at 8.5% is whopping. £80.25 for every £1,000 in net buys is generous. 

Doubling dividends. Huge for very current stories and particularly the upcoming European nights, and whatever domestic fixtures do go ahead. Puts a big focus on current big media winners (not potential Summer winners, importantly) and gives a tempting reason to be buying performance players again. That is going to be very helpful to anyone holding performance players and sweating buckets. 

Reduction of match day Gold/Silver/Bronze threshold. Clever. I didn’t think of that. It’s really important and again, boosts performance players.

This should be a big shot in the arm and I think it will excite many.

I would say stay a little cautious and don’t go crazy. All the real life stuff outside of these bonuses still exists, and corona virus can still cause havoc.

Investing in players who aren’t outrageously priced and you can imagine being happy to take into next season come what may is the best overall advice right now I think.

I am also not sure there is a particular need to rush in. With so much uncertainty around value opportunities will likely come up beyond just right now!

Unless we panic slashed and burned our portfolio (hopefully not) then we’re going to benefit from people returning to existing good players here anyway.


Interesting chatter started by Tuttosport but widely picked up about several European federations requesting to postpone Euro 2020 to Summer of Euro 2021. No confirmation yet. 

If this happened it’s not actually a terrible outcome for traders, provided that additional time allows domestic leagues to be completed normally. That’s the main issue – we have the suspension until April 3rd for Serie A but there is no guarantee at all that things will have cleared up by then.

Other leagues seem content for now to go with the behind closed doors option though this is not universally popular, and as corona virus worsens in each country the pressure might mount to suspend the seasons. 

This is exactly the pattern we saw in Italy, a week or two ago closed doors was fine, then suddenly it isn’t. 

In any case, I am not sure the decision to suspend Euro 2020 would be made immediately, I’d expect the uncertainty to carry on for a while.

This sets us up potentially for another season dominated by Euro 2021 (?!) chatter. In the build up to next season, it would certainly put rocket boosters under any major player expected to turn out for a big side. 

Last season, not many caught onto that early enough and it’s one reason why Key Strategy raked in killer profits early on. Most people didn’t realise how big a deal it would be until the qualifiers.

That won’t be exactly the same next season – people are aware now. We can’t just repeat the same formula year after year, circumstances change, and traders will often default to “doing what worked last year”. But when everyone is doing that, it stops working.

That’s going to be a stale strategy for next season. It can be a plank of a strategy but it’s not going to be a secret weapon – it’s just too obvious. 

What it will do is make big ticket Euro 2021 players (nope was still weird the second time I said it) likely to recover quicker from any late season sales and be bought earlier in advance of next season.

It may be a reason to keep faith with Euro 2020 players if they are expected to still be around in 2021. Potentially, making even longer term holds of them viable even over the Summer.

It may however rob us of an opportunity to cash in as the hype for the tournament reaches a fever pitch in 2020. 

Overall, I wouldn’t be trading based on this rumour just yet. But I think chatter of it being rescheduled is FAR better for holders of key Euro 2020 players than for the tournament being up in the air/completely off – the nightmare scenario here is if the tournament is skipped or if prolonged uncertainty over it makes people sweat too much and start selling.

Another point to bear in mind is that we’ll have the Nations League next season too whatever happens so European international players will enter next season with a premium no matter what. 

The Week

9:30am: This has been one of the toughest weeks I can remember to be a trader. We’ve got far more than just the football to think about and this added uncertainty over Coronavirus can play havoc with even the best laid plans.

What’s your football knowledge worth? This week it’s more: what’s your political and economic knowledge worth? 

The natural flow of this season is being disrupted, and it may get worse before it gets better. 

The decision to suspend Serie A late yesterday marked an important shift. Previously, games had continued behind closed doors which was not so much of an issue. If we start losing the rest of the season, it is going to cause some chaos.

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing – panics can open up some great value. But we do have to think extremely carefully about what we are holding and whether it is likely to withstand any shocks.

It is unfortunate but probably true that if the worst happens and we see widespread cancellation of fixture calendars, good traders who manage risk well are not going to be immune because this is a highly unusual situation. Sometimes, you can make great decisions and just get unlucky. 

This is an event so unpredictable and unusual that the usual good risk management measures of sticking to high quality players may not work in the shorter term (though it will longer term).

In fact, it can be the opposite. Bellingham for example at nearly £4 in mid-February was by every measure I use a very poor decision. And he started sliding as expected. But as the underlying factors have shifted in coronavirus chaos, and media becomes the priority, holders have got lucky and at time of writing at least, he now appears much more relevant than he was.

Our player can be as good at performance scoring as we like and involved in every competition, but in a worst case scenario where there are no games to play in, it’s not going to count for much at least in the coming 2-3 months.

Worst affected have obviously been Serie A players after the announcement yesterday. It’s unclear with a suspension of weeks how it is even possible to finish the season.

They could have a special condensed calendar with games every 2-3 days as an extreme measure. They could postpone Euro 2020 to gain an additional month. We could well find that Euro 2020 is played late in 2020 or even next Summer which would have strong trading implications (and could be a good thing – extending elements of Key Strategy out even further). 

With the huge financial and practical implications of not completing the season, I suspect a way will be found if at all possible. However, there may just not be one and there is a very real possibility that the season is just scrapped.

If this is isolated to Serie A, that wouldn’t be so bad.

If this starts spreading to other Leagues and we get a total fixture wipeout it gets trickier.

So far, the other leagues, particularly the EPL seem much more relaxed. But these countries haven’t yet been hit anywhere near as hard as Italy so they don’t have as much reason to panic.

It may be that other countries like the UK France Germany and Spain aren’t particularly better at dealing with it than Italy – Italy might just have got it first and we are just a couple of weeks behind. We could be in a similar situation to Italy in a couple of weeks. The UK’s Deputy chief medical officer said today that cases will rise and we will see thousands of people infected.

But this is all just speculation, nobody knows how this will pan out, I certainly don’t.

Practical Steps

9:57: All we can really do as traders is to think about what might happen and the impact on the market.

We can expect whichever leagues close down to take a hit. Any those that stay open when others are closed could get a boost, a bit like when the EPL was the only league open over Christmas.

As discussed last week, any media boost naturally helps out the EPL as things stand, as big transfers to that league are more likely to be eligible for a potentially much longer window of Summer media. This is awkward – previously the best strategy seemed to be moving away from the EPL to account for the upcoming media changes. 

Shorter term the last thing I’d do right now if I was FI is drop more changes into this market.

But a note of caution. FI’s media review may open up foreign news outlets, removing the EPL premium and spreading that to other leagues. Betting on EPL short term looks attractive but with the media review in the background – we still have to be wary of this potential shift which can hurt the EPL premium.

Any media boost also applies to major transfers outside of the EPL, ideally for big money. Generally though, for moves to foreign leagues, we want the player to have long term performance potential at that club – hype alone generally doesn’t cut it for a foreign transfer unless it’s a huge star.

I think broadly, my view remains the same as last week in terms of what to do. I’ve just become much more cautious than I was because of the suspension of Serie A. I had generally expected behind closed doors games to be acceptable as had been the case so far.

I think tightening up on players where the primary reason for holding them is Euro 2020 or existing performance strength this season is wise. At this stage, I think we have to factor in the possibility of widespread disruption to the fixture calendar.

Fortunately, the approach of having players with multiple reasons to hold them pays off here. Key Strategy has encouraged us out of pure performance strength and into Summer transfers for some time now anyway. We just need to start giving less weight to Euro 2020 as discussed last week, and probably now the rest of the current season now too. 

I think players will generally hold up best where:

– They are involved in multiple competititons i.e domestic football may be suspended but they still have the CL and the Euros. If one competition is cancelled, others may go ahead.

– They have an off pitch reason to hold them and can take advantage of a potentially longer window for media – i.e an expected big transfer to either the EPL or major European club. In EPL, we can be looser on performance strength, at least for the initial build up. For moves to big foreign clubs we ideally want potential moves where the player is expected to do well for performance scoring at their rumoured destination. 

– We generally want players who are mostly youthful, at least under 27 and eligible for major international sides (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian, Dutch etc). “Sexy” links to clubs like Real etc. All these factors will help maintain long term interest even where short term interest is disrupted.

– Price is important. We don’t want too many players running way above Guide Prices unless their fit for the above 3 criteria is very strong.

There are very targeted areas where we can deviate, a veteran for a short term CL punt where they have become extreme value etc. Well reasoned exceptions are fine, but in the main, we want to be moving our portfolios towards safer ground.

I do not, to be very clear though, advocate any kind of mass fire sale. It’s calculated cuts with a scalpal rather than a slash and burn. The cost of Instant Selling (which you’ll likely have to do in this market) combined with commission can be very self defeating.

In the main, if holding a good player, we can expect them to be coming on trend again potentially as early as May/June ready for the new season. That’s really not far away.

In times of uncertainty, I generally sit any spare balance on the sidelines. I would not be plowing it into “safe havens” that have risen sharply like Sancho etc. 

There are no safe havens because we have announcements coming up, potential media changes, and we don’t yet know that fixtures are written off either. It’s still likely that ways to keep the show on the road will be found in at least some leagues.

I think a better strategy is to have some money set aside ready to come in and clean up if and when any panic selling brings good players back into value range. This offers prospects for larger % gains than we will find charging into premium players late, and doesn’t expose us to the risk of the current flavours of the week being next weeks big faller which often happens particularly in times like this.

The problem with them is that the spread is huge and if something happens where everyone wants to get out of a very popular player, good luck, because the spread will increase and Instant Sell will be suspended.

The risk with having money on the sidelines is that everything turns out just dandy and nothing gets cancelled. Possible, I suspect not.

Particularly on FI – to be real – even experienced FI traders have little to no experience dealing with a genuinely tough market. We’ve never really had one for an extended time. Because of this, it is likely that experienced traders on social media etc will be over optimistic rather than pessmistic. And also because lots of established big accounts want to pump confidence up as much as possible for obvious reasons. 

I also think newer traders might tend to panic and be over-pessimistic. If this is your first few months then seeing drops like this can be very scary – these traders are quite likely to panic sell which can hurt them but also drag everyone else down a bit. 

Another risk of my wait and see approach is that we can “buy the dip” too early. 

“Buy the dip” is a common trading phrase and it’s often a good idea. But traders also say “don’t catch a falling knife” and that can apply too. It’s possible that after an initial drop they can drop further. That can be hard to predict and we’ll have to read that as we go.

The Announcement

11:03: As per this post from FI we are expecting an announcement today on contingency plans for Corona virus.

This includes a “bonus dividend chart”. It is likely implied that this is media related, since in a fixture wipe out scenario, only media is expected to be in play.

The natural assumption then is that this should benefit players with reasons to be in the news in Summer and that makes sense to me, as I discussed last week. Even if FI announce nothing specific on media the very absence of fixtures is a direct boost to media.

So, I would say that whatever the announcement it is will probably fuel this fire and players like Sancho and Bellingham will likely kick on. I still don’t personally want to be involved in them for the reasons above. It won’t just be them though – any player with a good EPL link or major European transfer link can also get a boost and I definitely hold this sort as per Key Strategy.

We don’t know what form any “bonus” may take though. It could be a straight up increased pay out, or it could tinker around a bit. A return of something like the transfer dividend from January would be an easy win.

If I was FI, I would not be relying on media or transfers alone to keep FI chugging along until next season.

In reality, only a handful (50?) players have serious media chances. Even players like Bellingham are a con – newspapers are not going to be spending all Summer talking about a youth player like him – they’ll be talking about Neymar, Sancho, Kane or Pogba etc trying to get out of their clubs. Fernandes dominated January – I expect a handful of big ticket players to dominate Summer in reality. 

This funnels traders into too small a pool of players for a healthy market.

Broadening out to give a transfer dividend would help, and bring more players into contention. But, a transfer dividend alone is a one off and would have to be a huge payout, way bigger than January, to convince someone to hold for months just for that. 

If it were me, I’d pull something out to smooth over the lack of fixtures. It’s just not clear what that is. One possible idea which isn’t a bad one is to do something like a simulated Euro 2020 if it was cancelled. It would be pretty out there as a solution but the technology does exist to simulate games.

I’m not sure we can really start making bets on something like this. It’s just an example of the sort of creative ideas someone at FI may be cooking up – they did suggest additional measures would be taken as needed. 

So we may see something unexpected either today or announced in the coming weeks. And that feels like a good reason to have money on the side ready to respond to genuinely new information.

Live Blog Now Paused - I will update further when additional news comes in either from FI or about Serie A etc.

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