It is truly remarkable how strongly the market has risen in the last couple of weeks.
January to March was fairly stale overall even before coronavirus started taking hold. We’re now in our best period since December despite all that is going on which given the circumstances feels crazy.
Not that I’m complaining.
But, there is perhaps dangerous sense that this is a market that cannot fall.
The lockdown on spreads means it’s very difficult to lose a lot of money – people can list players but they can’t Instant Sell them.
If a bad decision can’t be punished then it gives a false sense of security.
But we must bear in mind that this is a messed up market.
The whole function of a market is to find the true value of an asset. Thousands or even millions of people making individual decisions given enough time will find what something is worth. Or so goes the established theory of what a market is.
But that’s not happening – nobody can sell so that negative drag that usually hits the off trend or weak players just isn’t there. We’re seeing a skewed picture because it’s all buying and little selling.
Bottom line – this market does not reflect what people are really feeling.
The biggest impact of this will be felt the day the spreads lockdown is lifted or eased up. Once people can sell we will find out what people have been itching to dump for a while but haven’t been able to.
We’ve got to be very wary of this and not hold too many players that depend on a single turn of fortune to hold their value (i.e a transfer). Or that have a price way out ahead of what they are really worth.
My view is that spreads will stay as they are and Instant Sell off until there is a clear path ahead and football is back on. Simply put – spreads will stay on until people do not want to sell anyway.
My bet, as per last week’s Key Strategy, is that on this day, high quality performance players are positioned strongly for success. Perhaps even more strongly than they have ever been, or ever will be again, because they will have a season and a half of seemingly uninterrupted football ahead of them.
But for that to happen many people will need more certainty that football really is back on the agenda.
We can’t control that – what will happen with football will happen. What we can do is make sure we are positioned well (my views on how in Key Strategy) and have thought very carefully about that day when the spreads are eased up.
What are we holding that is going to be in the firing line?
Can we sell anything we think is at risk?
With spreads huge and Instant Sell off, we might think we can’t move much to market.
Anecdotally though from some members I have heard that some stuff is moving, sometimes even surprising random picks that you wouldn’t think were in fashion.
No doubt there will be some traders out there who are happy to buy – a combination of the smart value hunters and the mugs who may target very different things.
I have a mild conspiracy theory that the “Market Maker” may be stepping in in some cases. In fact, it’s not really a conspiracy theory because FI told us this is actively happening.
Basically, FI have paid an “independant Market Maker” to buy up selected shares and keep the market liquid and moving.
This was mentioned in depth very recently in an email from FI.
My theory is that this market maker may have been beefed up recently in combination with the spreads increase and the Instant Sell lockdown.
This would allow FI to buy shares of their own choosing, presumably ones they think have real value or can at least be sold later, rather than accepting any old rubbish people Instant Sell.
This would be good for FI because they need some liquidity and they need people to be able to sell somehow so they can take their commission. And they need some traders to be able to sell so that they can reinvest elsewhere to keep the market reasonably liquid.
This would be a pretty smart play from Mr Cole and I wouldn’t be surprised if the recent release of further details on Market Makers was not a coincidence.
How can we use this?
If you are sat on a player you want to get rid of – you might try your luck with listing the player rather than sitting on them thinking they won’t move anyway.
It’s just a theory but who knows you may get lucky and there isn’t much to lose.
The 8.25% bonus comes to an end on 23rd April which is next Thursday.
As discussed in Key Strategy, this is in my “nice to have” column and it’s not something that is making me do anything I wouldn’t be doing anyway. But it is very nice to have, particularly if Adam Cole blessed you by resetting your buys/sells.
I’ve seen lots of chatter about “what happens then the bonus is over? Will there be mass selling etc?”
I’d be very surprised if there was personally. Practically speaking, who can sell right now? Instant Sell is off. You might be able to shift stuff to market but only if someone buys it.
CEO Adam Cole isn’t a stupid man so he is hardly going to be turning Instant Sell back on Thursday.
I’d say take advantage of this bonus by all means but only if you are planning to put money back into the market and you are comfortable with that anyway.
It makes no sense putting in money you aren’t really comfortable having in FI just to get an 8.25% bonus because once we commit to players right now we have no idea when we may be able to get out of them again.
Flexibility is limited at the moment and will be for a while so more than ever this is a time to think long term rather than short. Or at least, like Key Strategy, make sure our short term bets also have long term real value.
Overall, lockdowns appear to be working which is fantastic. But we have to bear in mind that the only reason coronavirus isn’t running like wildfire is because almost all of us are stuck at home.
We are seeing some countries ease restrictions, but it’s going to be gradual and sport may not be the first thing on the mind of politicians.
We haven’t had significant developments from the world of football, other than a potential finish for the CL in August which would be pretty great for us traders. And probably some other, less important, football fans too.
The leagues are still as they were, committed to a finish and at various stages of trying to piece together a football calendar.
The Bundesliga is clearly leading the pack and a May restart is looking possible.
Things look very positive there and we are already seeing Bundesliga players rising because of it.
An important point to note is that leagues are on different paths and will get started in their own time, though there may be a uniform finish date.
So we can expect this kind of flock towards players as and when we get good news from each league, just as we have seen in the Bundesliga.
And the more certainty we get the bigger that stampede will be.
If for example we get Bundesliga games going off without a hitch in May I’d expect significant further buying there as people get more comfortable taking punts.
I am very aware of how brittle that all is though.
We may get the Bundesliga back and then boom, one infection or stupid crowd outside a stadium incident etc and it could be a disaster and it’s all back off again.
This is why I’ve set Key Strategy up as it is and been heavily bias in player selection towards those that can both do well if we get football back in May – July but also stand up well if we have to wait until August or even later.
We can’t predict whether we will really see football back soon. Nor can we wait until it is 100% back on because the value in the market will be long gone.
But Key Strategy covers both those scenarios and is set up to do very nicely if we do get lucky with a May – July restart. And I still think it will do well if we have to wait until August/Sept.
As per Key Strategy, I’ve basically got 95% of my funds committed anyway. And selling is hard so I’m on the path I’ve picked with little wiggle room.
That’s why our strategy has to be able to stand up to a wide variety of scenarios and why I’ve strongly avoided very specific bets like “he will get this transfer to X club.”
The only strategy decision I expect to have to make in the coming weeks is whether I put my remaining 5% into Elite Veterans or Media – and that will depend on the circumstances.
If football looks very likely to be back on I’ll be hitting Elite Veterans greedily. If not, probably some decent transfer picks with longer term performance value as a backup if the move doesn’t happen.
Market Moves for 20-24 year olds
Looking at the market, most of the biggest % rises in recent weeks tend to be in younger players, but interestingly, we’re talking 20-24 rather than 16-19.
Drops for any serious players are few and far between.
There are some drops of 15% to 3% for quite a lot of players but they tend to share two common traits – they are 27 or older and bargain basement garbage. This is the sharkpit end of the market where the worst pumpers and dumpers hang out often in the 20p to 70p price range.
You can actually take a beating if holding in this area because just a few pennies off the price can mean a 5% to 15% hit. It’s one of the reasons why I never ever dip into this area unless I am very sure I know something 99% of people don’t and I have found a real gem.
That may happen two to three times a season at these extremely low prices. Almost all of the players in this price range are in the bargain bucket for a reason.
And, when there is a problem in the market, they are the ones people will dump first as we see here.
With the focus on 20-24 rather than younger, perhaps traders are looking for more solid prospects rather than punts – players who are actually in and around the first team yet still in that value 80p to £2 range.
This is a sign of a slightly more sensible market than has been the case at times – and it feels natural that uncertain times sends people towards picks that seem more solid as they are actually playing eligible football rather than the 16-19 year olds who are often a long way off.
This has been really good period for a lot of the players I mentioned in the wonderkids and good young players articles. Some of these seemed to move very quickly and my articles may have helped them along in some cases but also it’s good timing in that these players are very much in fashion.
As discussed in the recent members survey feedback – I don’t like having an instant impact – I want players to get good scores and rise on merit and it’s something I am keeping an eye on. It seems to happen particularly with wonderkids articles because people are always swift to buy value youngsters.
It’s less noticeable in core players etc since it takes more money to move them significantly and also I think people aren’t as excited by them. As ever I’m keeping an eye on this issue because I don’t think it is good for the site if my articles cause instant price movements.
It isn’t just the genuine quality younger players moving though. Plenty of poor quality younger players are being bought too. This is because the general standard of judgement out there on social media about who is really good or not is quite poor, and it is deliberately skewed by concerted big account and chat group pumping.
I strongly ignore all of this – there are some good voices out there but the majority of it is awful, even from very large and long standing accounts.
And it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the good and the bad commentary. The bad pumping accounts are a joke and easily spotted.
The really dangerous ones offer some very convincing arguments i.e some great headline stats whilst ignoring the underlying weaknesses. That’s why on this site I highlight the good and the bad in players and everything I say is recorded and left there for everyone to look back on. If I was mugging people off I’d be out of a job by now.
Overall though it’s not a problem for both good and bad players to be rising right now. It’s something I expect particularly when there is no football around. It takes weeks and months of football to go by before the strong players shine and the weak players reveal themselves through consistent poor scores.
Eventually that will happen – and it’s why I take the trouble to target the real quality even if it is not currently performing any better than some of the rubbish. When football is back, the quality has a better chance of getting high scores and winning, rising further and holding higher prices longer. The hyped players who are weak in FI scoring almost always get found out and drop eventually.
My key advantage is that I don’t need to wait for FI performance scores to tell me who is good or not, I just need match data. And for almost all players, I have a lot of that already, even if it’s at youth level or for a different team.
The more recent match data I have the more accurate I can be. Assuming nothing ever changed I’d get it right 100% of the time because reading the stats is relatively straight forward if you know how.
But that’s not the case – players change position, hit hot streaks, get lucky, are given different tactical instructions etc. That’s why keeping on top of it all is a full time job for me and why using historical data alone, particularly old performance scores, is such a ropey way of judging ability.
In all of the countless hours of player selection I do it comes down to nothing more than stacking the odds in my favour as much as possible and I expect this will start paying off even more once football returns.
The important thing to remember here is that we only need 20-50 well selected players for outstanding overall returns in an entire season. We don’t need to dilute our quality by chasing rises in weak but hyped players however tempting it may be. Trading is not pokemon. We do not have to catch them all.
What about the older players?
In Key Strategy released a week ago today, I decided to stay away from elite veterans for the time being, even though I think there is potentially outrageous value in them right now.
I’m happy with that call, there are only a handful of examples of significant rises for older players recently. Alcantara. Halstenberg. Kostic. Muller. Lewandowski. Plea.
What do they all have in common? The Bundesliga. Optimism for the Bundesliga is currently high and this is an early warning sign of what I’ve been saying – as soon as football looks back I am convinced there is going to be a huge surge for older high quality players, many of whom are at incredible value due to the aversion to them in recent months.
I’m still watching and waiting on this. Things are still very changeable and this is currently very high risk and high reward because if disaster hits any opening games in May/June elite veterans may find themselves on ice until August/September or even later.
But I still have a small balance as per Key Strategy and I’m seriously tempted to hit this end of the market as soon as I have a good excuse.
For any brave souls who want to get older players now I’d say if going for them 27-29 is much safer ground than anything over 30. But if we get greater certainty about football returning I’ll gladly go for 30-31 too and maybe stretch that for the real elites like Messi.
We’ve got a market happily bouncing along but the key thing from me is that we shouldn’t be lulled into complacency by it.
All the “best month ever” & “you can’t lose money right now!” stuff? That’s BS.
To a large extent we will be stuck with what we have BUT there may be opportunities as discussed above where we can still trim portfolios and shift money to different areas.
We want to prepare for that day when the spreads lockdown is eased up.
Because it’s only then we will find out how people really feel about players.
We won’t be able to be totally immune from any drops once people can sell easily, but the more real performance/media suitability our players have and the less dependant they are on a single stroke of fortune like that one transfer the better we’re going to hold up.
And if we do get it right, and all that freed up cash moves to our area of the market, it could be a very good period indeed.