Let’s have a catch up on latest events and I’ll answer some questions from members at the end, including an important one I’ve been asked a couple of times which is – should we be worried about FI’s cash flow?
On Monday I outlined my thoughts on what we might see this week.
My “Scenario 1” where Euro 2020 was moved and domestic seasons were rescheduled for April > July with next season starting as normal is mostly what we have seen.
The difference is that they want to try to leave July free, presumably to give some break between seasons.
We are now awaiting further news from domestic leagues, with a big meeting in the EPL scheduled for tomorrow.
From the mood music and the various reports from news outlets, it is hard to imagine anything other than a commitment from the major leagues to finishing the remainder of the season. That’s what I expect we will hear tomorrow.
This will include condensed fixture schedules, possibly a game every 3 days. We may see behind closed doors games at neutral venues to deter mass gatherings outside of stadiums.
This news is pretty much in line with expectations and it has not yet kickstarted renewed confidence in the market.
Whilst it’s a good sign to see authorities committing to finding a way to finishing seasons, I am not sure enough people really believe it is possible yet.
And until they do, possibly until we see games actually going ahead or at least in the calendar with confirmation that Government are supporting it, I am not sure enough people will feel confident again.
The two barriers I see is a) Government and b) health of the players.
If Government maintain their complete shutdowns that’s that – they outrank the football authorities. We may see different approaches in different countries on this. The UK Government has seemed much more determined to keep shows on the road where they can. You can see somewhere like Italy being much less forgiving as things stand.
And the health of players is also a concern. I don’t think even most fans would support the continuation of games if it was going to make players sick. They’d need some system for dealing with this, ideally paying for testing for all players before they can appear in a squad. But is that possible even with all the money in the world? There could be political problems with football buying their way to the front of the queue for tests.
I expect we will see more commitments to keeping the show on the road in the coming days.
But I think we’ll need to hear from Government’s that they back the plans and hear about a credible system for ensuring player safety before we can start getting more confident.
I think the real game changer will be when we see games under these behind closed doors conditions operating safely.
If football can find a formula that works – not only will we know that this season has a high chance of finishing we will be able to have confidence that the next one can start too.
That’s the game changer that can deliver confidence.
Until then, I think we’re still going to have lots of worried traders and a flat market which is still, being real, held relatively stable only by the lockdown on spreads.
The question marks over whether these plans are workable are real. Look at this predicted schedule for Manchester City:
That just looks crazy. Possible, but crazy.
Do we really believe that all of that will go off without a hitch? I suspect not. I don’t think we’ve seen the last intervention and I think other measures will be needed, including playing into July or scrapping some Cups.
We’ll see in the coming days what they come up with.
I have genuine concern about the future of Football Index as a company.
In the case that the 2020-21 season is abandoned, how do you see the future of FI? is there one? and what would you do with your portfolio?
Well I guess the first thing to say is the usual disclaimer – I’m not a financial adviser or indeed a fortune teller. I’m just an experienced trader sharing my personal thoughts.
At the moment, my view is that come hell or high water, football authorities will find a way to keep going and take whatever measures are needed to make matches possible.
The money involved is such that the incentive to find a way is very very high. It’s possible they can find a workable solution to finish this season and we’ll find out more in the coming days. With more time to work it out, I’d say the odds of having some form of system in place by August are higher.
But I think this question touches on the key issue – traders and Football Index can probably roll with losing the remainder of this season without too many problems, it wasn’t far from the end anyway. Losing next season becomes a major problem.
I think we will get to a point in the next week or so where a football calendar up to June is peiced together. If that starts falling apart and those rescheduled games end up cancelled – worry for next season may start creeping in but I suspect that is a few weeks away at least.
IF we knew for sure (i.e next week) that there would be no next season… FI may well be in trouble but I think that is extremely unlikely to be decided upon now.
Football authorities are currently worrying about completing this season, I can see no reason why they would suddenly announce that next season is cancelled anytime soon.
These decisions are ultimately always a calculation of risk that can only really be made by an individual – there isn’t a right answer that works for everyone.
If we were to cash out now, we eat a crippling guaranteed loss, possibly up to 50%. We also give up the chance of profiting in the event of good news and a bounce back.
We do however put ourselves in a good position in the event that FI collapses permanently in the coming weeks – having 50% of what we have would be far better than next to nothing of course.
My view would be that the likelihood of an immediate collapse soon is very low. I think we’d have to have strong evidence that next season was off in entirety before FI got into real trouble and I think we are at least weeks away from that.
On the non-footballing side, the Chancellor also announced a huge £300 billion war chest last night which offers favourable rate loans to struggling companies to tide them over.
Even if FI do run into problems, they are (as far as I am aware and I do check their credit scores periodically – you can do this yourself via a credit check service like Endole – it only costs £10-15 from memory) a solvent company in normal times so would seem eligible for support if they needed it.
And unless CEO Adam Cole is one of the greatest long con artists of all time, I think he’s a good man to have at the helm and is generally showing good leadership in this difficult time.
Personally, aside from the cuts I made as discussed here in the weeks building up to this, I have sat tight with what I have when the music stopped and the spreads were locked down.
I can do this because I stuck to the golden rule of not having more money in than I can afford to lose and I made sure I trimmed my portfolio to relatively resilient selections as discussed a lot here before the spread lockdown.
Of course, the phrase “can afford to lose” means different things to different people. I don’t want to sound too casual about it. To be clear, I would be very upset to lose all my FI balance. But life would go on and I can pay my bills without it and that’s the key thing I think.
I actually realise as I type that in these circumstances the golden rule might seem a bit self righteous. What felt like an acceptable risk a few months ago may feel like way too much now. Circumstances will have changed for many and lots of people will be worrying about their jobs.
Adam Cole has put the spreads as they are for a reason. They are at a level where I think you would have to be quite desperate for the cash to sell at this time and that is the whole point of it. This is tough for people who really need the money. But it’s also essential to keep the market stable.
If the spreads were 10-20% then I think the calculation of risk would be different and that could be an acceptable price to pay for some people for dodging that unlikely but severe risk of FI having cash flow problems.
At 40-50% losses?
My own view is that you would have to have a really good “real life” reason to need that money, i.e if your families welfare depends on it for it to be worth that heavy up front cost and loss of opportunity in the event of a bounce back.
Or, we’d have to really believe that FI were about to hit serious problems and that next season was not going ahead. I personally don’t feel like we are nearing that point yet.
I’m also aware that I’d be doing a hell of a lot worse if my money was in the FTSE100 or similar. Because of Adam Cole’s ability to take some heavy handed quick action, FI has held up remarkably well so far.
In your last article you mentioned some of the areas we may look for value if we start feeling more confident. Could you be more specific? I think you meant:
– core full season fit selections if discounted: like Gnabry or Chiesa
I’d agree with all of these selections, yes. Now may not be the right time, I still think overall the best place to be is sitting tight.
I’d also, thinking about it, add IPD players to that list. Imagine a 30 day window where a player has 8-10 eligible games!
Whilst I tend not to spoon feed and say “buy this guy” “sell that one” I think the best way to read the site is to read my analysis where I’ll discuss the TYPE of player that might do well.
Then with that in mind, refer to Scouting and Transfers etc where I will reference players who have that sort of fit and you’ll be able to pick it up fairly easily.
As discussed in the members survey, I just like to provide a range of options and I also like to make sure members understand the full review of a player.
If I say “buy X” that can be dangerous because without the strategy context and full review a buyer might not know the weaknesses of that player as well as the strengths, or what circumstances in which he may do well and what circumstances he won’t.
As things stand, in many classic “full season fit” players like Werner or Gnabry, they’ve had a mild discount but actually not that much. This can be taken advantage of if we want to build a healthy “core” portfolio of real quality players and we don’t have one already.
Euro 2020 being moved is actually a good thing long term. In normal times, in the next Key Strategy I was expecting to touch on starting to sell some of these players as hype for the tournament was building (possibly with an FI announcement on Euro bonuses in April).
We’ve lost the opportunity for a short term profit there. BUT. Euro 2021 gives all of these players another reason to retain a higher value potentially for more than a year from now. One door may have closed, another has opened. Holding good players generally gives us more options.
If we already have plenty of that sort of core player, we may want to look for value elsewhere. And it may well be the currently off trend veterans like Immobile (i.e the stuff that has been dropping recently) that profit the most.
Buying this feels uncomfortable because so many people are overpessimistic on age. That’s exactly why it works when the moment is right – you can’t find great value in players everyone loves.
Imagine a best case scenario where these veterans have not just a full season ahead but all of the rest of this season, the CL (in many cases) AND a full season ahead PLUS the Euro’s on top next year.
I think traders will get much less sensitive to age again when there is a full calendar of games ahead.
But as I say, I think there are some questions to be answered about this season before we can go guns blazing on this.