I didn’t make IPD players a part of Key Strategy this time. 

It can seem hard to bet on In Play when there is no… play.

And even in normal times, IPD isn’t for everyone. It generally requires a bit more effort and requires more match day attention versus more “normal” trading where you might hold a player for weeks or months.

Active traders can use IPD to grind out a little extra profit and I think it is worthwhile doing some of this if you have the time. 

But if you don’t, it’s not a major deal. We’re probably talking about an extra 5-10% profit per season if it’s done well, which is a nice boost but isn’t make or break.

There is a potential big opportunity ahead in that lots of good IPD players are currently very cheap for obvious reasons. 

If we do get football back, lots of them could rise significantly. If you can find a good one at 80p say, getting them to £1 may not be that difficult and that’s a hefty profit.

These gains often go largely under the radar but they often dwarf the rises in the most popular players. 

The way the FI website sorts by rises in pence rather than percentage gives a very skewed impression about who is hot, and that filters into social media and general perception very easily. We should bear that in mind. 

My Thoughts on IPD

On a basic level you might want to trade in IPD by looking for a decent goalscorer/assister with a nice 30 day window ahead in which they have a pile up of favourable fixtures.

You’ll see these kind of fixture spreadsheets circulated fairly often online highlighting good opportunities and they can be useful.

They can give us some problems if we are too simplistic in how we use them, though.

If we wait until the start of that favourable 30 day window (in order to make sure we qualify for IPD during the whole fixture run) we become very predictable. Probably, lots of people will be using that same fixture spreadsheet to do the same sort of thing.

And if we follow that to the end of the window and then sell that player, again we are selling at a predictable time when lots of others may want to sell too.

Another popular way to trade IPD might be as a short term “match day” punt. On the surface that’s what IPD is designed for right? Your average punter to place a bet on the morning of a game and have a bit of fun.

But if a bit of fun is what you want – the traditional bookies is probably offering better value in my opinion.

Better traders will be trading around the games and running rings around that poor match day buying mug. 

I’ll discuss how I approach IPD buys and sells – my technique prioritises profiting from the expectations and predictable behaviour of other traders rather than the IPD itself. Much as I do with transfer trading.


How I Trade IPD

Typically, I will have 3-4 IPD players at any one time during the season proper. Who those players are will rotate depending on price, performance and fixtures.

Usually, I am looking for some solid IPD returns as well as a long shot chance of a performance win as a potential bonus. So quality will still matter.

I will look at fixtures but I will usually work slightly off beat. Rather than trying too hard to be eligible for the entire IPD window, I might buy 10-15 days before that 30 day window of favourable fixtures starts.

This way, I will likely pick up early buying from “Spreadsheet Guy” who has planned his buys to maximise his 30 day window. This is a sensible approach in something like Fantasy where Spreadsheet Guy will tend to do well – but in trading, we should try not to be predictable. 

(Don’t get me wrong I use a lot of spreadsheets in my analysis but I have learned over time not to let raw numbers blind me to everything else that is going on).

With a good, well established IPD player I can usually start the 30 day window sitting on a small price rise as others buy later than I do.

From there, I have options. If the price rise is big enough and I’m not hugely convinced by the player, I can just cash in there and then if I want and not actually wait for any matches.

If my scouting tells me the player is on fire and is likely to be scoring most games, I may well hang in for 2-3 matches and collect some IPD. And hopefully, further price rises if he scores plenty as the match day buyers follow in.

If I am lucky, because I’ve generally picked players who have a long shot chance at a performance win, I might get that win for an extra dividend or at least get a big score which can result in further buying. 

I will generally not hang in for the whole 30 day window, so that again I am slightly “off beat” and not trying to sell when everyone is. That might mean selling before a juicy fixture or two but that’s ok.

Often, if I am monitoring the games on that day, I may well sell during the game if they score and I can move them to market easily.


Qualities to look for

Outside of the obvious good fixtures, in an IPD selection I will generally look for:

A player on a hot streak or looking close to one.

If a player has scored a few recently he may look a good target but that has to be balanced with price. If these goals have caused the price to rise already we’ll probably be too late.

More likely, I will target a player I know to be a historic good goalscorer who has hit a barren spell and dropped in price if I see that his recent goal threat is high.

If picking now or in early season where there are no recent games, I’ll base it on pre-season records and my knowledge of historic performance.

A Goldilocks price – not too low, not too high.

This might seem an odd thing to say, how can a price be too low?

A price can be very volatile below 75p or so and that is not always helpful. If putting serious money into a very cheap player we’d want to be watching that very carefully because it can lose you a lot quite quickly. 

This very cheap end of the market is a shark pit. For all we know, someone is holding 25% of the shares in some random player waiting for someone to bite and then dumping them – and they don’t care about any kind of logic about waiting for the IPD run.

So, I prefer to go for decent quality players who are not unknown but are probably cheap because they are in a rough patch. 

Around about the 75p to £1.20 range is ideal. 

I will creep up to £1.50 or even £2 but at that price, I start demanding more chance of a performance win, or some other factor like the possibility of a decent transfer.

The reason I won’t go too high is that IPDs have really fine margins, even after the boost to them last year. Buying a £2+ player for IPD purposes alone is generally a dead end because the IPD alone isn’t going to offset the commission by much. 

But, IPD can be a nice bonus for a £2+ player you were picking up anyway. 

Some Examples

I’ll cover some examples of players that look good value now and could be primed for a rise if their league returns.

Note, if their league returns! It will take a good deal of confidence in that before people get too trigger happy on IPD buys.

I will still include Ligue 1 for interest but obviously, this is a way off.

The key thing here is that I would buy some of these at a point where I felt confident that football was coming back, in the same way I might for a 30+ year old Elite Veteran.

In a similar way, they are quite high risk and high reward at the moment. But when and if football restarts they could result in very quick and predictable profits.

Duvan Zapata - Atalanta

Timed right, Zapata can be a great pick.

Unlucky with injury this season but in just 15 league games he has scored 11 which is incredible. And 5 assists too.

Goal scoring is nice and consistent. And importantly, he is one of those explosive strikers who can score 2 or 3 or add an assist to a matchwinner. 

This puts him in range of a rare performance win, which can be a potential jackpot that doesn’t cost you much to bet on.

For just £1.22 this looks like a near slam dunk win if football looked back on. A streak of IPD and a rise towards £1.50 seems very acheivable. 

Islam Slimani - Monaco

I love a pick like this. 

I highlighted his strong threat in mid-February, he went on to score 3 in 3 games. He blanked for 2 after that but the threat was there.

Before football was cancelled he looked good for more IPD and there was a reasonable chance of a performance win too – his numbers were solid. 

For the money, the IPD returns are good and you have the chance of dropping on a big dividend win and price rise.

31 year old ex-Leicester players aren’t sexy but that is exactly why they are great value. 

Currently 74p and at that price if you can just get a few goals and a ~10p price rise that is a very good result. 

Thomas Muller - Bayern

Muller has been rejuvenated under the new coach Flick.

Not just for IPD. I should probably have mentioned him under Elite Veterans now because he has been cranking out numbers that suggest performance wins are incoming, as covered in scouting before the shutdown.

Still just £1.26 but a long term part of the plans for the new coach by all accounts.

Hasn’t scored huge numbers of goals (8) but he has racked up an incredible 17 assists in the season so far. That is a big IPD haul in total and at a very reliable pace.

Gerard Moreno - Villarreal

A good FI player for the money, who had a dry spell but improved in 2020. Capable of strong IPD returns and a performance win.

A tough hold if he hits poor form at a time when older players are going out of fashion like recent months.

But after the price drop and now stable, you are getting a high quality player for a cut price. He likely justifies the value on IPD alone and if he does hit a win a big price bounce will not be hard to achieve. 

And he’s only 28, it’s not really fair to lump him in with the “old” crowd he has years ahead.

Andrej Kramaric - Hoffenheim.

Similar to Moreno – a very good player, who had a dry spell but improved in 2020. Capable of strong IPD returns and a performance win or two even if that can be tough at Hoffenheim.

Like Moreno, a tough hold if he hits poor form at a time when older players are going out of fashion like recent months.

But again here, we’re getting a good player for cheap whose IPD alone can justify his price. 

As potential bonuses, he has a chance of a performance win, and you also have the chance of dropping on a good transfer. At a performance suitable club he could be superb and push over £2 very easily. 

Mauro Icardi - PSG

A truly awful performance player.

But big goal scorers are never valueless. 

For an unsettled player like Icardi you have solid IPD returns for your money at £1.57. Whilst that is the upper end, he’s just 27 and often has rumours of a move. 

Hold him for IPD at the right time ahead of a transfer window and you never know, you may hit a jackpot with an EPL link. And a bet like that doesn’t cost you much.

Wissam Ben Yedder - Monaco

Ben Yedder has been a great IPD pick to dip in and out of this season.

In end of December scouting I highlighted him at £1.15 and he was £1.39 by 2nd Feb.

In scouting I did a basic calculation:

He was £1.15 then, £1.39 now, a decent rise in itself. But I’ve mentioned him many times previously.

Let’s say you bought 100 shares on 1 December at £1.20, selling to rebuy and refresh your IPD window on the 1st Jan (he was the same price).  

Over those two months you’d have 6 goals and 3 assists, that’s £9 in IPD for your 100 shares, at a cost of £120.

He’s now £1.39, a 15% increase in value, minus your commission for refreshing you now have £145.

That is a cheeky 20.8% profit in 2 months which is not to be sniffed at.

This is a good example of an IPD trade when it works out near perfectly.

By the time he is £1.39 we probably don’t want to push that luck though. But now, after a drop back to £1.21 I’d be all over it if Ligue 1 was back on.

He’s just so reliable in his return rate. And often available for a good price. 

He also gets some vague transfer rumours from time to time which can be a bonus and I often look for these with an IPD player. It would make me more likely to hold him in say December ahead of a transfer window.

Robert Lewandowski - Bayern

One of the best IPD returners around but at £2.33 it’s well over the ideal IPD price range. This is where you can make an exception though. He’s also capable of performance wins so you can justify a bigger price here.

This can be treated as a viable longer term hold (given the length of his contract) however here I would look for opportunities to constantly refresh that 30 day window because the returns are very lucrative.

So cashing out on a little value spike, then coming back to him a week or two later if he dips is a great way of squeezing extra juice out of him. If these opportunities don’t appear he can be held anyway, so it’s no stress.

This would apply equally to someone like Ciro Immobile who is a touch more expensive than our usual IPD player would be, but he justifies it.

Romelu Lukaku - Inter

This is not dissimilar to Lewandowski where he is a high price at £2. But he can rack up enough goals to come close to justifying it.

He is fairly awful for performance scoring, which is one way Lewandowski is better.

On the other hand, Lukaku is a lot younger and also will be at the Euros. So little factors like this can swing us in favour of saying he’s a decent IPD rotation option when he has a good spell of fixtures.

Alvaro Morata - Atletico

I’ve been in and out of Morata a few times this season. (Wait that sounded wrong).

This is a point to note about players who have flopped in the EPL – traders will tend to avoid them and they can be available at a cut price. That stink of failure just puts people off.

But we should trade the current situation, not hold history against a player.

For somewhere between 80p and £1.10 this season you can pick up Atletico’s 12-15 goal a season striker who will probably also lead for Spain at the Euro’s. Would that be true if he hadn’t flopped in the EPL? 

I highly doubt it. It’s a severe undervaluation.

Picking him up in pre-season for 80p I could sell him for £1.10 just a month later. And he didn’t even do anything except score in the opening game.

This wasn’t really a big brain moment. How predictable was it that Atletico’s main striker would probably score? Very. But I profited here from being willing to go for an unpopular player because those reasons for unpopularity were irrational.

He also tends to go on big streaks. From October to November he bagged 7 consecutive goals which is a huge IPD yield at the £1 mark. Then we tend to get these barren spells before more goal streaks. 

This is an ideal IPD player – cheap, high yield, and you can generally  tell when he might be getting close to another streak by watching his goal threat.

Angel Di Maria - PSG

We probably think of Di Maria more as an Elite Veteran performance player because he’s so damned good.

But with 10 goals and an incredible 18 assists, he pulls in a big IPD haul very reliably.

This is not to be overlooked because with Elite Veterans we will tend to hold them during very specific periods i.e early season or late season for a CL run. 

These big IPD returns for a player in the £1 to £1.50 range a huge sweetener for a player like this and easy to fit in for players that we are holding for short periods.

In IPD alone, Di Maria has pulled in the equivalent of almost 2 Gold Day Star Player wins. That’s huge. And in a season that wasn’t even finished. Even if you catch half or a third of that it’s a big bonus. 

Robin Quaison - Mainz

One of the lesser known players but he’s quietly racked up 14 goals and 3 assists for Mainz so far this season.

Available anywhere between 90p and £1.20, you can see how this offers a very solid dividend yield and, if you time it right, a very respectable capital increase too.

He’s holding £1.16 now so it suggests a fair few people have caught onto this. But it’s still within a very acceptable price range. 

He’s a little bit more awkward as he tends to be less streaky than say Morata. Quaison has moderate goal threat all the time so isn’t that predictable. You’d want to target a very kind fixture run here.

I suspect the price was spiked by 2 hatricks recently, leading some to believe he’s a performance contender which he generally isn’t.

This is an example of when I’d almost certainly sell – when that hatrick went in. Then I’d look to rebuy once the price settles a bit. 

Andre Silva - Frankfurt

There is a lot to like about Andre Silva, even if he has had tough spells.

Whilst he only had 8 goals this season he’s another quite streaky “confidence” player and they’ve come in clumps which are ideal for IPD purposes.

A few years ago when Silva was a youngster I’d suspect he’d be up in the £2-3 range easily in today’s market. It’s a good lesson to bear in mind as many of the current crop of highly priced youths will face similar problems to Silva.

But, he’s still a big talent and could improve. He was on a nice upturn in form before the season was stopped. He may move to a bigger club later so if you hold for IPD ahead of a transfer window you can get lucky. 

He is still just 24 and a Portugal regular too.

This is a player who has clearly struggled but the crucial thing is price. At 99p we can be forgiving of some issues provided there are significant upsides. 


Final Thought

There are lots of good IPD targets out there, this is just a selection. 

Hopefully this has given you a flavour of how I approach IPD which has been something members have requested a few times but I haven’t had chance to get to until now!

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