A lot has changed in just a week.
Not long ago, we were digesting the news of Ligue 1’s cancellation.
Combined with a spike in the infection rate in Germany, this set nerves jangling about our current great hope, the Bundesliga.
Then, we had more positive news and today’s latest is that the Bundesliga is very much green lit by the powers that be, although pushed back a week to May 22.
Potentially great news.
But things remain changeable and if things look very different again a week from now I will not be surprised at all.
Note – At time of writing there are mixed reports about whether the Bundesliga is scheduled to restart on May 15th or the 22nd – the below was written with the 22nd in mind, it’s obviously better a week earlier but doesn’t make a huge amount of difference.
The Market Impact
Ligue 1 (And Instant Sell)
No doubt, Ligue 1 players have suffered some this week as we might expect.
But really not that badly in the circumstances and I suspect some of these drops are just “on paper” where someone has listed them but isn’t going to be able to sell for a while anyway.
It highlights what I said last week – this market does not reflect how people feel.
We just know there is a ton of stuff people will be itching to get rid of, including more Ligue 1 players. But they just can’t and are unlikely to be able to for a good while yet.
I see some grumbling around (and in some cases, worse than just grumbling!) about wanting Instant Sell back and spreads eased up. But I think a lot of traders, particularly those holding undesirable or risky players, should be careful what they wish for.
Ironically, it’s the person who is most desperate for IS to be back who should probably be fearing it most. Chances are lots of people will want to dump the same players.
This IS and spreads lockdown is the only thing that has warded off a panic that would have been bad for everyone.
In a real panic, rationality is thrown out of the window and the good is sold along with the bad.
Traders holding real quality are in a better position because they will have credible reasons to believe people will eventually come back to their players when the panic is over.
But short term, everyone will take a hit if there is a rush for the exit. Although those who have overreached into risky players will certainly take the brunt of it.
If Adam Cole opened up Instant Sell now? It’s still going to cause a ruckus. So many people will be sat on stuff they don’t want.
Adam Cole is not a idiot. He will be well aware of this and I don’t see him easing things up until we have had multiple leagues back for weeks and the question of it being back for good is no longer in doubt.
That’s going to be 1-2 months away at best.
In the last 10 days or so, Bundesliga players were up, then down again, then back up again at time of writing. Today’s news of a 22nd May restart brings optimism.
We shouldn’t really be having to chase this around, either to charge into Bundesliga players or sell them when the news looks bleak.
With Key Strategy, these were bets we made weeks or months ago. I haven’t bought or sold any Bundesliga players in recent weeks. I’ve taken the rises, the dip, and then the second rise.
I may well get further rises or have to ride out another dip if, say, a bunch of Bundesliga players test positive and the whole thing is thrown into doubt again.
This is ok.
I’ve chosen players carefully so that if football isn’t back soon they should still be fine for later on.
I’m not sweating on the news. I can’t control it. But I’ve done my job by setting up in a way where it is pretty hard to lose whilst giving myself clear ways I can profit.
If someone hadn’t done this or was sitting on a big pile of cash, you can still buy Bundesliga players where you spot some value, sure.
I would just say stick to real performance quality, and buy players who don’t have some sort of cliff edge like a transfer that can go wrong, and make sure you’d be happy starting next season with them too.
It would also be smart to avoid too much tunnel vision on the Bundesliga. More likely than not, other leagues are tied to the fate of the Bundesliga.
If the Bundesliga sets the model and proves it can be done, there are fewer and fewer reasons why other big leagues cannot follow suit. The EPL, La Liga and Serie A are probably not too far behind the Bundesliga really, and it may be that we can find good targets there that haven’t risen yet.
They may get a similar price bump as soon as we hear something positive from La Liga etc.
Preparing for Judgement Day
The main thing I’d be worrying now is preparing for what I will dramatically call Judgement Day.
Judgement Day will probably be more like a period of weeks.
But it will happen when IS is back and spreads start getting eased, probably when the world becomes very confident football is back on track.
Once people are free to sell what they don’t want and either cash out or move that money to players they do want – that is when we will find out how people are really feeling about players.
If football does return in May – July, I’d expect traders who have set up with a solid list of performance players, including the elite veterans, to have done very well.
If you are over stacked with transfer trades or too much big media you might be struggling there as the return of football eats into media days and distracts from transfer gossip.
Of course the opposite may happen and we can’t really control it. If football is knocked on the head until at least September – we might actually be pretty happy we have media focused players.
But this isn’t a 50/50 bet on performance vs media. I chose to go performance focused because it succeeds in a wider variety of possible outcomes. I’m just stacking the odds on my side.
Part of the reason Key Strategy has focused on performance (with a decent chunk of low risk media/transfers to give some balance) is that it means we won’t have to chase the game this Summer.
Bet on performance and you can hold through no football in May – July if you have to, knowing that people will start preparing portfolios for the start of football in August or September in just a couple of months time.
If alternatively you go Big Media/Transfers you may benefit if football is off until September BUT if football comes back you are in the uncomfortable spot of feeling like you have to sell lots of media to chase performance.
And it will be an awful time to be chasing the game when we have very limited flexibility.
Even before that, you might find your big transfer hope falls over any day and it’s all very stressful.
Right now, we will be fairly limited in what we can do if our funds are tied up. But even a 100% all in portfolio might be able to make some tweaks. And some of us may be sat on chunks of cash.
It’s still possible to shift certain players and we should try our luck in the sell queue when there is a credible prospect of moving them.
If they currently have a live transfer rumour we might be able to move them. Or a dodgy Bundesliga player that the market overestimates but we know isn’t all that brilliant.
There will be these little opportunities.
And where that frees up cash, we can start moving money towards the areas of the market that have upsides but aren’t overly dependant on luck.
Any trading I’m doing now is with this in mind – what happens when people can actually sell again. What will they sell? And where will that money go when they have it?
Given my theory that spreads aren’t easing up until we know football is back for sure – my bet is that on Judgement Day, it is going to be performance players who see the biggest benefit.
At times like this I do not like a wait and see approach.
If we wait for perfect information, when we know that football is 100% back, people who were happier to take a bit more risk will have already done their buying and the best value will have gone.
Our fallback is that football will return by September – that’s our main way of managing risk here rather than trying to predict whether football is back soon or not.
Assuming someone has cash sat in the balance now, they need to make a sensible choice. Is that money set aside for gambling/investing? (however you want to view it). Are you comfortable using it or will it stress you out?
If someone is comfortable using it, I would get it out on the pitch working for us in sensible areas as discussed. You might want to keep a 5% balance for flexibility purposes.
If the money you have in there stresses you out, and you know you might need it to cover bills etc then there is little point it sitting in the balance and it’s probably better off in your bank account.
Football's Coming... Back.
What can we expect if leagues are slowly getting back underway?
It could actually look pretty damn weird.
We may see just a handful of games per day, rather than a big Saturday or Sunday match day.
We’ll need 4 games on a day even to get to a Silver Day, and 10 to make it a Gold.
With just the 1 League in play Silver is the best we can hope for. We’ll probably need at least 3 of the 4 remaining leagues back to start seeing Gold Days again.
And this is under the excellent “Moving the Gold Posts” offer where they have reduced the required number of games per day.
This is the assumption we are working from – but if we do just have one league I wouldn’t be surprised if FI spiced things up by reducing the number of matches needed even further.
There are two main implications of this.
One is that the hype for the return of football may, at least at first, end up feeling like a damp squib. I have never heard “Yes! It’s a frickin’ Bronze Day!” before. The payouts are tiny.
This is something to bear in mind and may result in short term disappointment. But, I don’t think we should worry about it too much.
For performance players what we are really looking for is confidence that football is back on.
If we can prove this as early as May or June then we know we’ve got:
– a Summer of football to look forward to
– the finish of this season’s CL/Europa with all the Gold Day’s that comes with
– a quick transition into next season with a whole new CL and Europa League
– Euro 2021 coming at the end of the season
– Just a month break until the season after Euro 2021.
That’s huge. An unprecedented period of football ahead that we may never see again. Good performance players will benefit strongly from this, particularly the currently off trend elite veterans.
That’s far more important than chasing some Bronze Dividends around – so I’d urge a focus on the big picture here rather than whose got what fixture when in the coming weeks.
The second thing that will happen is that we will see some strange winners.
When I discuss a “good performance player” in normal times, I’m talking about a player that is so good they can compete with hundreds of others on a Gold Day and have a credible chance of winning. That’s a high bar.
But with just a handful of games in play, most players are capable of winning, even a bad one.
There is just less competition and any goalscorer can do it. Or that ball playing defender (or deep midfielder actually) who usually struggles as discussed yesterday can clean up without needing a goal or assist.
Obviously, the better players still have a better chance. But in a small number of games anything can happen.
So we might see some odd dividend winners. Social media pumps may nick a win and it may be used as evidence they are good after all.
We should be wary of this and keep an eye on who has real quality because it won’t be long before competition intensifies.
But, we can also factor this in a bit. It might be another reason you may continue to hold Upamecano say. You know he’s not all that brilliant, but a win now when he is being hyped would have a big impact. And he is very capable in a limited field.
Or even a Kostic, who is normally overrated, can end up doing pretty well and a dividend win could hoodwink a few more into thinking he is a regular contender. If holding him you may want to wait for that.
In general though, we don’t need to start making bets we wouldn’t otherwise make. It won’t be too long before competition intensifies and we don’t want to be stuck holding players we may regret a few weeks from now.
It may be something of a “wait and see” week ahead.
We’ve had positive news from the Bundesliga, even if it is a delayed a week further than the original gossip hinted.
We’ve got limited flexibility, but we should make the most of it and see what tweaks we can make by offloading any players that we don’t want but may be desirable to others (a transfer perhaps?).
Overall, this is a time for long term thinking – setting ourselves up with the best players who can profit from that potentially huge football calendar ahead (but still hold up ok if we have to wait longer).
And, dodging the foreseeable losses by avoiding that old temptation to punt for a short term quick win. In the past, we could often get away with that.
But one thing FI is teaching us right now is that we have to keep adapting and doing “what worked last time” isn’t cutting it.