A good time for a State of the Market after the bombshell from Ligue 1 last night.
We knew things were still uncertain obviously but it has looked very positive across all leagues recently. All the mood music has been about finishing seasons and starting in May or June.
So, the sudden news from Ligue 1 still came as something of a shock even though we always knew we hadn’t seen the last twist and turn.
And there is also now a bit of nervousness from the Bundesliga too as they have seen a spike in new cases after relaxing restrictions. We may see that wave of optimism for a restart wobbling.
I’ll assume most readers will have read the basic statements from the BBC and similar so I’ll get straight into the trading implications.
The Market Impact
Inevitably we saw the initial reaction which was some people mass listing Ligue 1 players (unless it was a transfer rumour keeping the trade alive).
We are also seeing that transmitting to the Bundesliga players, many of which who have been rising strongly recently.
The standout point here is the sheer futility of those listings.
Instant Sell is off, as we know.
So we’re left with selling them to other traders. And very few people will be buying players who hit some kind of bad news like this.
If order books existed it would be different. We could offer to take some players off someones hands for a hefty discount. I look forward to that day, but it hasn’t been implemented yet.
Whether the bad news event is Ligue 1 cancelled or the transfer rumour falling over – a major thing we must be aware of is that once that bad news hits we cannot expect to have any method of selling. At all.
We might get someone willing to pick up our trash. But it’s not very likely.
More likely, we are just dropping the price and encouraging a fire sale of our own players.
The only defence we have right now is to avoid situations where a single thing can change on us that means we need to sell.
If we’re holding a good Ligue 1 player like a Depay for example – we do not need to sweat on this.
In fact, we shouldn’t have been holding him if we were that stressed about Ligue 1 not resuming in May – July. If we are stressed by this we should have sold the player whilst there was optimism the league could resume – that’s the only chance we will get.
Many will be dumbfounded by the idea of selling when things are positive but being able to do this is a big part of a good traders toolkit.
After all, whilst things felt positive we always knew we were in uncertain times so if we felt we had risks to cover off we should have done it.
As discussed in Key Strategy though – if you’ve setup your portfolio with some solid picks – losing the rest of this season is not a killer.
We won’t have to wait until September for people to buy Ligue 1 players again. People will want to prepare portfolios a couple of months before at least, maybe 3 if they are bored with nothing else to focus on.
It’s reasonable to expect interest in Ligue 1 players to be back by late May or June – certainly by July – even if it doesn’t start until September.
When news like this hits there is usually very little we can do about it after the fact. How well we do mainly consists of the position we had put ourselves in already. And a bit of luck.
In short, I don’t think there is any good course of action with a decent Ligue 1 player right now except to hold tight.
Bottom line is – we should not be getting dragged around by these kind of events. We knew it was possible. If we saw that Ligue 1 headline and then listed players it is just bad trading because we must have failed to prepare for that foreseeable scenario.
Ditch Sloppy Habits
It’s really important right now to ditch that old sloppy habit of taking huge punts on short term events at least for now.
A large part of FI culture has been this sort of reckless gambling that’s been allowed to thrive because bad decisions have only been very mildly punished.
Some traders are addicted to this. Worst effected are probably experienced hands who have been doing it so long they forget how stupid it is. Others, like me, took some calculated risks sometimes if I thought it was warranted – risks I wouldn’t have taken without the availability of Instant Sell.
I don’t think any of us should be doing it at all now.
IS used to give us the security to be able to take some risks we wouldn’t normally take. Worst case? 10-20% loss. People found these hard to deal with but at least you could take that hit and move on quickly.
Mistakes now are extremely costly. It’s a 40-50% hit even if you can Instant Sell. A possibly worse outcome is that you have to hang onto that problem player for months unable to shift them. Time is money is a cliche but it is said for a reason.
The only players we can expect to sell are the ones who currently have positive sentiment that people are still buying. Again, this hits what I said about in the Selection Headaches article – a good trader must be capable of selling a player that is currently popular without fearing missing out on a further gain for them.
We shouldn’t try to time our sells at the exact peak.
That is simply not an acheivable goal.
Instead, we take a strong profit when we judge the price is high enough and the risks have become too great to be worth it.
Sometimes, that will coincide with the peak and we will be lucky.
Others, like with the Grealish example in Selection Headaches, we may pick up a player in the £1.90’s, sell in the £3.60’s and see it keep going to £5+.
Does this matter? No. That was a good decision. We banked a big profit and did not take on the risk of the transfer falling over. We all know most transfers do fall over so this method will see you right far more often than it doesn’t.
Nor will that money we cashed out be sat doing nothing. We will have moved that somewhere it could do equally well or better, without the risk of a big drop.
Success is about consistent good decisions that mean you are always making progress and taking very few losses to drag you back. The thrilling wins and crushing losses of the gambler are not what I look for – it’s an exciting way to get bang average results.
What to focus on
The only sensible thing to do in an uncertain time is what was heavily emphasised in Key Strategy – have a well balanced portfolio that means we don’t have to rush around reacting to every twist and turn like we saw last night.
My main goal with this latest strategy was that it had to be able to prosper or at least do ok in a wide variety of circumstances.
Things to do now:
- Bullet proof our portfolios. We should have already done this but we need to weed out any remaining trades that can fall over quickly.
La Liga player who you would want to sell if La Liga was cancelled until September? If you aren’t comfortable holding them until at least the build up to next season. List ’em.
Transfer player that may be in line for a drop if he doesn’t get that one move he needs? Drop it. The only chance we’ll get to sell is when people are feeling positive about that player.
If the player has had their “bad news moment” already – there probably isn’t much we can do.
- Focus on building a well balanced portfolio of good quality solid players (as discussed in Key Strategy) that performs well in a wide variety of circumstances.
It should do well if we get the leagues back. If this season collapses we should be comfortable holding our performance players until next season.
And it’s got some decent media coverage in there with a few premiums and hybrid transfer/performance players that may have a positive transfer chance but can be held even at the current club.
A Misleading Market
I mentioned recently that we currently have a very misleading market that doesn’t really reflect what people are feeling.
We’ve had forces pushing prices up. Usually, there is a counter force pushing prices down but with no IS and no freedom to sell, lots of traders will be sitting on players they don’t want.
I would trust price movements even less than usual as the indicator of what is currently popular.
Following into a player because of a price rise can lead us into deadends and the “car crash waiting to happen” trades. They may seem popular because of a short term transfer link or similar. But once you click buy you have basically married that player. I am extremely wary of buying for short term reasons right now.
And we may be complacent about some of the players we are holding. If they aren’t dropping we might think they are fine when actually a lot of people may be sat on it waiting for a chance to get out.
Instead of worrying about what others are doing, we should focus on our own analysis. Our knowledge of who is good or not. Our knowledge of the trends ahead.
That’s our best guide at all times, not the short term price movements or the rubbish people are chatting on social media. But it’s particularly important now.
The big event of the week, before the Ligue 1 news, was optimism for restarting Leagues particularly in the Bundesliga.
Last week, I observed that things had started moving on from very young players and there was a preference in buying for 20-24 year olds. I speculated that this is because people are looking for real prospects who are in and around the first team, rather than bench warmers.
As expected, the closer football has looked to returning, the more we see older players doing well. Anything from 20-27 can be doing quite well now. And you are even seeing good players like Kramaric at 28 years old starting to pick up.
Kramaric is a good example of a good performance player that only smart money will be aware of. Since he didn’t explode and with older players off trend, you could barely give him away from November to March.
When football returns this is going to stop being true. I’d be very confident of that and will be betting on it heavily.
As the 27-29 range start rising, it will start bleeding into the 30+ range.
If a high quality older player has dropped significantly in recent months, and is in that 27-31 range with a value price and a long contract head, there is no real reason to fear them.
The social media chatter of “hur hur but nobody buys older players” will change quickly. That person was probably dribbling on their keyboard when they typed that. It’s rubbish – you just have to know how to time entries and exits right.
If we listen to this chatter rather than reading the reality of the events ahead we will miss the opportunity until it is so obvious it is hitting us in the face and the best value has gone.
The Ligue 1 news was a shock.
All eyes are now on Germany as they are leading the way. If they manage to pull off football safely, they will likely share the experience and there would seem little reason why other countries can’t either.
This would be great news. Not just for this season but because that will automatically give confidence that the next one starts as normal, too.
We must be mentally prepared for the Bundesliga start date to be pushed back though. And our portfolios should be prepared – which is why I’ve emphasised “bullet proofing” our portfolios so much.
We can’t really bullet proof them – if the Bundesliga is off some people will list players and our portfolios will take a hit, at least on paper.
The important thing is – have we put ourselves in a position where that doesn’t upset us? If we can hold those players through into next season then we don’t have to worry about this.