Note: Given the volatile market recently this style of "3 month ahead" strategy isn't feasible right now - instead - I am using State of the Market and Live Blogs to discuss strategy on a weekly basis. However, I will leave this up for reference, as it provides useful definitions of things like what a "Core Player" is.

The last few months has been the most challenging time to be an FI trader that I can remember.

The last phase of Key Strategy – Through Coronavirus – was the most brain taxing and most defensive strategy I’ve ever written. And for good reason. We needed a rock solid position that could deal with anything – even no football until 2021! 

It has been nowhere near as bad as that thankfully.

The market has been fearful in recent times and also incredibly stale. But it could have been a hell of a lot worse. We probably have FI CEO Adam Cole’s competent stewardship of the market to thank for averting disaster more than we can know.

And we’re fortunate that football has been able to get going again so soon too, seemingly without creating too much danger to the players.

Whilst for large periods we couldn’t sell, nobody else could either. That almost certainly averted a crash that may have been difficult to recover from. Once bitten, people can be twice shy of coming back.

It may now suggest the opposite. If FI get through this “stress test” and come out of the other side unscathed as they have so far, it could actually increase confidence in the platform. 

Even in one of the worst situations imaginable – we now know FI have the tools to keep things stable. And the will and competence to do it. Knowing that should make people happier to keep putting money into FI.

As will the next big event – the increase in dividends. 

We are seeing positive vibes and a bit more certainty return after last week’s announcements.

There is certainly no shortage of value available on the market. This would be a great moment to be a new market entrant and have lots of cash to splash.

For many of us though, there will be that frustration of knowing who you want but not necessarily having the money to bring them in.

The Matching Engine has brought opportunities in that there are insanely low bids being accepted for good players. 

But that also means it can be quite difficult to sell. There may well be lots of great players in our portfolios that seem unpopular now but may be desirable again in just 4-6 weeks.

They can have big spreads so selling them for a big hit to go for something currently fashionable can be tempting but also self defeating.

A good phrase to sum up my approach to the next market phase would be controlled aggression

We should greedily buy up the slam dunk value when we see it. It’s screaming out to us more than I can ever remember.

But unless we have new money on the sidelines, we may have to bide our time for the ideal moments to sell some existing holds to finance that. That’s going to be the trickiest thing to get right.

This is my plan to take us through into the next season which likely starts in September.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

The Major Factors Ahead - Preview Article

We have lots of major events that are going to impact trading over the coming months. I discussed all of this in detail yesterday to prepare for the new strategy phase and I recommend reading that first. 

It can be found here.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Into Next Season Strategy - Summary

This is a Summary of the Objectives of the strategy covering the months ahead.

Full discussion of each is below, and I recommend reading it all not just the Summary!

Take swift advantage of immediate opportunities like the dividend increase and the cheap bids available in many strong players.

Objective 1

Maintain or build the "Core" part of the portfolio - players with high performance strength and a great fit for the full season ahead. I recommend around 50% of total portfolio value in this category of player and no less than 40%.

High level selection criteria summary:

- Current performance strength, at least 3.5 out of 5 stars in my ratings.
- Usually 22-27 years old (youth/veterans are dealt with separately)
- Value price (reference Dashboard Guide Prices)
- CL/Europa League involvement next season

Optional: Remaining CL/Europa games this season, Euro 2021 and Nations League.

Objective 2

Fill the remaining 50-60% of the portfolio with a pick and mix from the following areas. - Elite Veterans
- High Potential Youth
- 1-3 Premiums
- Selected transfer prospects
- Ineligible league prospects

Objective 3

If possible, use any market surge around a dividend increase as the time to cash out players that do not fit your strategy and get your portfolio in shape for the new season.

Objective 4
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Key Strategy Objectives - Detailed

Take swift advantage of immediate opportunities like the dividend increase and the cheap bids available in many strong players.

Objective 1

I’m breaking this into a seperate short term objective to highlight the urgency of it.

If you are in a situation where you have new money that you want to put into FI, or money sat in the balance, using it sooner is better than later.

We have a reason why lots of very popular (and sometimes obvious) players are very likely to rise because of the incoming dividend increase.

As discussed yesterday, there is no credible reason in my view to adopt a “wait and see” approach with this. It is highly likely people who do will just end up paying more later for the same players.

And dividend increase aside, there is an incredible amount of value available in strong players who are currently not in demand but are very likely to be in mere weeks.

The Bundesliga is a great example of this. People rushed towards them for the restart of that league. Then left in a panic as the season ended. But some teams like Bayern have European competition in just 4 weeks and it isn’t long until the league restarts anyway.

Good traders will be punishing the short term mindset of bad traders on this. You can get some insane bids matched on players right now.

Scouting is the best bet for my advice on who that is. That includes the latest stuff but it is also worth going through all of the very recent league previews form June/July Scouting. 

I also give a detailed selection criteria for players below.

Simple Method

The simplest way to make the most of this is just to load up as soon as possible on some of the more “obvious” picks you might want anyway like Bruno, Neymar, Gnabry, Dybala, Depay. All the greatest hits that you will find in the Core or Premium player lists below.

They are popular. Uncontroversial. Likely to get a natural rise out of the dividend increase and you can carry them into next season too. And in many cases they can be had on a discount bid, although some like Dybala outed themselves as quality again last night. But there are plenty to go at.

Easy. Good strategy is not always complicated.

Advanced Method

If you want to dabble in something a bit more high effort but potentially higher reward, you could loosen up the usual selection criteria on a short term basis. 

You could go for some players we would normally consider a bit overvalued or a little bit weak if they are popular. Or pushing harder than usual for players who have recently hit a win and are gaining popularity. 

Here are some examples of players we might expect to get a boost this week that we might not normally rush towards:

Examples: Martial, Foden, Mbappé, Kane, Kimmich, Felix, Carvajal, Puig, Calhanoglu; any player who may win this weekend!


Those first 7 are decent choices although outside of the dividend increase there is no real reason to rush for them. But they might be good picks on a short term basis to try to ride a wave of hype.

Someone like Puig I include because he’s a young exciting player, looking quite good in Scouting, and might well put up a decent score this weekend. 

Any attractive player that does well in the coming games could get overbought so they may be a decent candidate. I’ve included Calhanoglu for the same reasons as a form player – though really he isn’t bad to have in your portfolio anyway.

We can make a short term profit from those weaker/hyped players but we will want to move away from them swiftly if they are not part of longer term plans or they become overpriced.

The timing on this is tricky because you will need to judge a point to sell such players before or shortly after the announcement so that you free up your cash to go for the currently unfashionable but smarter money picks.

I’ll help with the timing because I’ll discuss this in State of the Market no doubt.

C’mon FIT. Am I made of money? 

Now, not everyone will have new money or balance free. It has been a tough time to sell after all. I am definitely in that boat and there is far more value out there than I can possibly have money for at the moment. Can be frustrating.

I discuss selling more in the last objective including how you might use the dividend increase to speed that along.

I would also say that there is no need to panic here if you do not have lots of cash free.

It is true that if you want to put more money in there are unlikely to be many better moments than right now. But there are always good opportunities, and now we have the Matching Engine the phenomenon of people selling players for bonkers low prices is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

As always it is a bad idea to over extend and put in more money than you can truly afford to lose. Aside from the risks involved it creates a bad mindset and can lead to poor decisions.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Maintain or build the "Core" part of the portfolio - players with high performance strength and a great fit for the full season ahead. I recommend around 50% of total portfolio value in this category of player and no less than 40%.

High level selection criteria summary:

- Current performance strength, at least 3.5 out of 5 stars in my ratings.
- Usually 22-27 years old (youth/veterans are dealt with separately)
- Value price (reference Dashboard Guide Prices)
- CL/Europa League involvement next season

Optional: Remaining CL/Europa games this season, Euro 2021 and Nations League.

Objective 2

Examples: Gnabry, Werner, Insigne, Kroos, Dybala, Depay, Eden Hazard, Hakim Ziyech (probably!), Guerriero, Brandt, Thiago Alcantara, Thauvin, Eriksen, Mahrez, Loftus-Cheek (maybe, see scouting), Lewandowski, Griezmann (potentially), Aouar, De Bruyne, Insigne, Coman, Alberto, Sané (maybe), Ousmané Dembelé (maybe), Goretzka, Asensio (maybe), Hudson-Odoi (maybe). 

“Core” players will be familiar to long standing members by now, although note the exact selection criteria varies between strategies as certain factors come in and out of fashion.

And due to changes over time – a player that looked strong for performance 3-6 months ago may not look that great now. Scouting is the best guide here.

What we are looking for is strong performance players who have a near perfect fit for the events of the full season ahead including European football and Nations League/Euro 2021.

Basically we are maximising our chances of success by securing the players that are both most likely to win and have the greatest number of chances to win. Those wins will generate dividends and probably price rises along with them.

The profit from price rises will generally massively outstrip the profit from dividends although over time that gap should close as seasons go by. 

It’s important to be aware that these are not neccessarily “steady dividend holds” – the main objective is capital appreciation sparked by their statistically likely performance wins.

There are two main ways to gain an advantage over most traders on Core players. 

Firstly, you move for them at a moment when they are out of fashion (or avoid panic selling them at bad times if already holding). 

The second advantage is in having better knowledge of who is actually good or not which all members of this site have. My Scouting method has proven very accurate over the seasons.

Not every player who is showing promise will do well obviously due to tactical changes, form or just plain bad luck. And sometimes bad players have good days.

But detailed Scouting has heavily stacked the odds of winning on our side and will continue to do so. And just as importantly it helps us know when to sell the overhyped but low quality stuff. That may be even more important to total returns. 

Right now is the best time in a long time to build your core portfolio. Huge discounts are available with bids.

If we already have a core portfolio we are happy with then as long as they still fit the criteria and have not declined it is generally going to be best to stick with them now.

In a corona free world it is likely we would have sold many of these for good profits in the build up to Euro 2020. As it was it has been very difficult to sell anything in recent months at all.

Sometimes you get bad luck. But the good thing about high quality players is that you tend to be able to roll them over into next season and that is deliberate insurance against bad luck.

Core Player Selection Criteria

Essential: Performance Strength

As always Core players should have current performance strength. The majority will be 3.5 out of 5 stars level and above with 3 out of 5 stars at the minimum.

In my definition, 3 out of 5 stars is a good but not spectacular player who can be expected to challenge around 4-7 times per season for a win. We generally want better than that.

Beyond that as you get to 4 out of 5 stars we are talking exceptional ability where they can challenge 7-10 times per season. 5 out of 5 stars is reserved for the elites and few reach that outside of Messi/Neymar/Kroos and their peers.

Scouting is the best resource for this and you’ll be able to tell from my description how highly I rate them. (The current star ratings tables are mainly accurate but do need a full refresh soon – some of them lag behind the latest scouting and I’m working on a way to improve this as we get towards next season). 

This is not the area in which we are looking for raw potential – for our Core players we want next seasons consistent winners and we want them now

And we want to avoid any pricey players whose weakness will be exposed by a long run of games and poor scores. 

Essential: Broadly match Dashboard site trends for age

Peak FI performance generally coincides with a footballers peak years. There is disagreement on exactly when a player reaches his peak but if 26-29 is wrong it is not far wrong.

If you nudge that down a bit to factor in that in a market place we want resale value later on then the ideal age of an FI player, free of short term factors, is going to be around 22-27.

Old enough to be established at a good club with years ahead, young enough to have resale value in 1-3 years and not suffer a big age drag on the price. These are the “safest bets” unlike veterans or youth which are both high risk categories. 

Any established high quality players in the 22-27 age range are going to safely tick the age criteria for the approaching season and it makes them less volatile.

We will include youth and veterans (discussed below) but these players require more tinkering and can come in and out of fashion more frequently.


Essential: Price

Price is everything.

A player can be an exact match for all of our criteria but if the price is already flying way above site Guide Prices, we need to consider this very carefully and consider whether they have room to grow.

Of course, many Core players will by now be at prices in the £3 to £5+ range. 

Provided they genuinely deserve those prices because of their trend fit and performance strength I would not stress at this point about paying a reasonable price for a quality player to build my core portfolio, even if that was in the £3 to £5+ range.

In many cases, as of right now, they can be had for a snip of their blue button price on a bid anyway.

The stronger the fit with these selection criteria the more we can be prepared to pay. But, we must always find the best value we can and ensure we leave realistic room to grow.

One of the most common mistakes traders make on FI is paying too much for good players

That “comfort blanket” instinct where people naturally want to buy players who have risen recently is a profit killer. Better traders tend to buy things that are falling, not rising.

Another common mistake is holding onto good players long after they have risen past a rational value. This leads to 4 possible outcomes a) price drop, b) stagnation or c) modest profit not as good as you could have had elsewhere d) player keeps going up (rare cases if lucky). 

That does not give you good odds of consistent profit. If this is a habit you will lose a lot more times than you win.

Good traders sell in positive times for the player – to get a good price you must be willing to sell as others still see reasons to buy. Do not worry about trying to hit the exact peak of a price – close enough is good enough.

Essential: Champions/Europa League involvement next season 

This is not just because of the extra games and chances to win, it’s another reason traders will stay optimistic on them longer term. 

If they are still involved with this seasons CL/Europa it’s a bonus. But for longer term perception of value we want them to be involved in next season’s tournaments too.

So we should watch the conclusion of seasons carefully, including the quirks about who is banned from competition and who qualifies through a cup etc.

I have made this “essential” though there can be some exceptions. If a player meets all of the Essential criteria but lacks CL or Europa involvement I will not refuse to buy them but they would need to be particularly strong and particularly good value. 

Desirable: Champions/Europa League involvement this season

If they are still involved in the current seasons CL/Europa it’s a bonus and may make them worth signing up sooner rather than later.

This could bring considerable attention to them as August approaches, and particularly for Bundesliga players (Bayern?) it is not long until the new season starts after this. 

The mood on such players is likely to turn around very fast so I would suggest making the most of cheap bids whilst you can.

Desirable: Nations League and Euro 2021 involvement

Euro 2021 involvement will drag the price up throughout next season but particularly towards the end (assuming the tournament goes ahead this time!). 

That’s why it is a good idea to start the season with Core players who tick this box but are worth having for their club performance anyway. We should not specifically buy players for Euro 2021 but it is a very desirable background trait.

And it may come into focus sooner than we think. The Nations League is still scheduled for September 2020 and it will likely refocus minds on key international players. Many of which will also be big CL/Europa players so exploiting this “combo” is smart.

Also in internationals you tend to get some mismatches where big players get to thrash a weak side and rack up huge scores. Lucrative.

Plus we may see fresh talent given a run out in the nations league to look out for. It’s dumb to buy obvious picks like Hudson-Odoi in the weeks building up to an England squad announcement.

It’s not so dumb to buy them over the next month before people start plastering their England youth pumps over Twitter. When you see this happening this may be the ideal moment to sell to these traders who are “getting in early for the England announcement, mate.”

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Fill the remaining 50-60% of the portfolio with a pick and mix from the following areas. - Elite Veterans
- High Potential Youth
- 1-3 Premiums
- Value Performance - Selected transfer prospects
- Ineligible league prospects

Objective 3

Key Strategy Objectives - Detailed

If 50-40% of our portfolio is made up of the above core full season fit selections, we should branch out a bit with the rest of it to pursue other opportunities. 

I view a good selection of Core / Full Season Fit players as essential but too many of them can make a portfolio a bit too safe.

You will notice some cross over between the below categories. 

Note that I provide lots of examples for each category but these are only examples – many more will be covered in scouting etc! There are lots of options out there at the moment and this is meant to get people thinking about what sorts of players to buy rather than push people towards specific players.

Elite Veterans

Examples: Thiago, Kroos, Lewandowski, Pjanic, Mahrez, Parejo, Immobile, Kramaric, Willian (contract depending), Reus, Messi (high risk but possibly worth it see scouting), 

Once we have spent any money we want to ahead of the dividend increase as per  Objective 1, Elite Veterans will be the first place I will go when it comes time to spending the smart money.

Note: There is a particularly blurry line between Elite Veterans and Core performance and you will recognise some of the same names in both lists. That’s fine – the categories are there as a guide we do not need to spend too long making sure all of our players exactly fit the “target” portfolio. Close enough is good enough.

Early season is the time to exploit these elite players and the current aversion to age makes them great value. The mood is highly likely to shift on these players especially after a dividend increase. But they need to be elite quality so that consistent big scores drive attention in their direction.

When you find these elite veterans at value they should be bought greedily and to benefit you must be willing to do it first without needing social media reassurance to do so.

For all the constant talk of youth, in July > October last year it was the veterans who outstripped the youth for raw profit and it wasn’t even close

Whilst lazily repeating “what worked last year” is dangerous in this case the circumstances are such that the same is likely to happen again.

However, bear in mind that if the player does not have exceptional performance ability, an uncertain future, or are 32+ then the fear of age can start to look very justified.

We should take on the current incorrect belief that 28-31 year olds are undesirable, just as we did in early season last year with great results. But not push it too far because some older players are an unacceptable risk.

There is little point in signing older players who are just good or average. Older players will have to do a lot to convince. We only want the real elite veterans at 3.5 out of 5 stars+ certainly as we head over 30+. 

High Potential Young Players

Examples: Curtis Jones, Stengs, Locatelli, Amiri, Esposito, Gouiri, Aouchiche, Paulinho, Trincao, Barrenetxea, Kulusevski, Szoboszlai, Brewster, Leao, David Brooks. 

This is what I look for in this category:

  • 21 and under, maybe up to 23 for a special case
  • Genuine performance potential at least 3 out of 5 stars
  • A credible prospect of at least regular sub appearances next season at a big club, or if at a smaller club, regular first team football.
  • Reasonable price with room to grow that hasn’t been pumped up recently. 


The above criteria rules out a lot of the dross that is routinely pumped at the youth end.

You can go for bad players that are likely to get bought but how often do most people find a young player cheap and then sell them when they get pumped? Not often. Most people buy as they are being pumped and get themselves into difficulty by holding them too long.

That exploitative approach is not for me but it can be effective provided you get them early and know when to sell. But I would flat out advise against chasing poor quality youth players who are rising rapidly.

What we really want is the real cream of the crop. In any given season we may see up to 10 genuinely fantastic young prospects on FI. We want to sign them up greedily early on – using our detailed scouting to give us an edge.

I have much, much better success with this targetted approach than by scatter gunning into a ton of random youth. 

You could, for example, just go and buy the entire Spain U21 side. But you will be left with maybe one good player and 10 poor ones. It’s not particularly good selection criteria. You aren’t using information that most other people do not have.

But if you know how to find a genuinely FI suitable young player and can match him to a good career path you may just be onto a winner. 

That is how through Scouting we discovered the likes of Havertz, Felix, Curtis Jones, Stengs, Foden, Aouchiche, Nkunku, Ruiz, Trincao, Chiesa, Esposito… It’s a long list. All pretty much household names now but they were not back then.

These high potential youth players generally don’t have to do much to rise. And because they are high quality they can put up a big score and impress.

Traders don’t need much convincing to buy them and there is no point making things harder than they need to be.

But crucially, because we have vetted their real FI potential through proper scouting, these young players are more reliable as long term assets than the overhyped garbage. 

Note: Despite repeated losses at the youth end lots of traders still think youth is low risk because they have so many years ahead – this is flat out wrong. Most “wonderkids” will not become a big club star and will drift into obscurity. Every football fan knows this.

1-3 Premium Proven Dividend Returners up to 15% portfolio value

Examples: Neymar, Bruno Fernandes, Kane, Pogba (if you believe he is staying – high risk!), Foden. 

Edit on 13 July – In light of the dividend announcement I would reduce the target for % portfolio value in premiums to 10%. 

A few premiums can be a good idea at most times, though they are not essential.

But I think the coming months will be a particularly good time to be holding some premiums (especially in the short term ahead of the dividend increase). 

High quality premiums are natural beneficiaries of the dividend increase. Emphasis on high quality, mind. Bear in mind that the majority of the top 10-15 players are there on speculation and hype rather than proven ability. 

And when you are paying premium prices you want Gucci. Not a knock off posing as the real thing.

I recommend the proven dividend returners like Neymar, Fernandes. They are proven returners and should naturally benefit as they keep stacking up dividends, especially if the payouts are greater. 

Something like Sancho at £14 is high risk and whilst you can get away with this to a point there might be a day when you can’t. It’s a big price to justify but in the favour of holders the dividend increase should help the cause. 

He’s not the worst offender by a long way because he has potential. But. You really want more than potential for this money. In Matching Engine world a £14 player can become a £7 player overnight. Say if he moved to Manchester United but struggled. Or almost worse, plays well for Manchester United but makes a limited impact on FI scoring. 

In my opinion “should I buy Sancho?” is the wrong question. It’s “why would I take such a risk for the prospect of the relatively limited reward that is left on the table?” It is beyond doubt that better profits are available elsewhere that do not carry this level of risk.

This is a classic example of paying too much for a good player.

So not everyone will agree but to me this doesn’t feel like smart trading. It did in January as per scouting when he was £7 but I cashed this out months ago.

Pogba has been a much worse offender and this could have been an absolute car crash for holders. They have ridden their luck here and possibly due to coronavirus they may just win this long odds bet. That doesn’t make it good trading – that means you made a bad decision but got away with it. 

It still may go badly if he leaves but he does look set to stay. So he could look fair value for media these days but performance credentials without penalties and in a deep role are questionable.

I’ve picked on these examples just to highlight the thought process I’d go through when picking a premium player and why I favour Bruno/Neymar above the rest.

You could also include Foden as readers will know he is a player I have liked for  a long while. But damn did he just get expensive and that rapid price rise would put me off. At least he has real potential though which makes him better than most.

A common mistake to avoid with premiums is having your portfolio swamped by them. 

If you go with the common approach of having the same number of shares in each player, it tends to skew your portfolio towards the most expensive players. This results in sub-optimal profits even if you are picking good players.

This kind of “accidental passive trading” maybe good for passive traders or bad traders but it is not good for traders seeking optimal results.

Note: If you want advice on how to structure a portfolio I have a guide available here. This is probably the most important Guide I have ever written and structure is overlooked so often when building a portfolio. The structure is almost as important as which players are in it.

I recommend 1-3 premiums comprising 15-20% of total portfolio value (up from 10% in the last strategy). But no more than that. 

No matter how good – any player can have a misfortune and nobody is bullet proof. Especially in the world of the Matching Engine risk management like this is crucial.

Unlikely though it may be, if something really bad happens that makes everyone want to sell site darling Bruno quickly all holders are screwed and there is little we can do about it after the event.

All we can do is make sure that if that happens the hit we take is bad but not devastating.

Transfer Prospects with Performance Strength

Examples: Demiral, Moussa Dembelé, Belotti, Fabian Ruiz, Coutinho, Milinkovic-Savic, Tolisso, 

In Key Strategy I’ve consistently advised picking up “hybrid” transfer prospects that also have performance suitability and that’s especially important now.

We want to avoid “punt” picks that are significantly overvalued outside of the transfer hype at this point. 

The criterion are:

– A high quality player, with real performance strength for the longer term at their expected destination club and ideally at their existing club too.

– Short term media potential is desirable but not essential if the player is a desirable hold at their destination club

– A reasonable value price, ideally dropping recently. 

A good general test is this: if we look at a player and think “I’d like him to get this transfer but if not I’d be content to hold him where he is” we’re generally going to be on safe ground.

That flexibility of having players who cover both the media and performance angles is great for an uncertain transfer window that is going to be volatile.

We can’t rely on a Summer of media focused on gossip like normal this year either. Match days cut down the media days available significantly. And journalists will be discussing football more than low key transfer gossip.

Value Performance

Examples: Demirbay, Plea, André Silva, Zielinski, Naby Keita, Palacios, Demiral, Pasalic, Petagna, Olmo. 

These are capable performance players who aren’t quite “core player” level but they can challenge for performance and could offer strong value. Basically, if the price is right, we might want them anyway even if they don’t tick every box like a core player does.

These are not a current priority though and signing up the big hitters whilst they are cheap would be my first port of call.

Ineligible League Players

Examples: Pedrinho, Gakpo, Ekkelenkamp, de Beek, Gravenberch, Almada, Tsygankov, Abdulkadir Omur.

These are fairly low priority right now, currently people have bigger distractions and I don’t expect one of those seemingly random surges for any Dutch kid who once kicked a ball at Ajax anytime in the coming weeks.

However, those surges will happen. Probably at least one before September/October. And the really good ones could start getting serious interest when they perform well next season, particularly in the Dutch/Portuguese leagues.

So it is worth having a collection of them at some point, probably by late August at the latest.

Many people may hold some now, I know I do. The difficulty is the bid price is usually insultingly low at the moment so if holding a good quality ineligible league player dropping them now for a 40%+ hit to free up funds only to want them back later seems like a bad move.

As long as they have a chance of scoring goals, playing well and getting transfer interest later I’d stick with.


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

If possible, use any market surge around a dividend increase as the time to cash out players that do not fit your strategy and get your portfolio in shape for the new season.

Objective 4

The above objectives cover when to buy but we need to also look out for opportunities to sell. That is often the most challenging thing.

That has been especially difficult recently. In previous Key Strategies I discussed an ideal opportunity to cash out of lots of players, including some core players, in the build up to Euro 2020 and take advantage of a natural trend transition at that time.

Events made that very hard and the lockdown on Instant Sell made that impossible.

Good bids are not available for all players even now so there is likely to be plenty we want to get rid of yet can’t. 

The key here is differentiating between “good player who is not in fashion now but will be in a month or two” and “bad player who doesn’t have a particular reason they will bounce back.”

With the good player who is not in fashion that’s not a major issue. Frustrating, maybe. There will be players rising more rapidly now that we would rather be going for.

But, we have to factor in the hit we take to chase players which can be substantial. If we are doing that only to have to return to that same player we sold at a discount? Probably bad trading and a bit demoralising. If our new player has to earn us back 40%+ just to break even it’s a lot to ask.

If we have players who don’t seem in fashion but are a good fit for the above selection criteria under Core player or another category they are probably good to keep. If there is a real reason why they will bounce back – this is probably patience not stubborness.

If however we are holding garbage we may have to bite the bullet and just take what price we can get. This can apply to both overpriced good players and cheap bad players.

Dividend Increase and Market Surge (?)

We may see a big injection of new cash in the event of a generous dividend increase in 9 days time. 

Whilst the “obvious” players will go up first, the rest of the market will tend to catch up in the days and weeks following that.

So there is a clear opportunity here to cash in any very popular players who are hitting a silly price. You can do this either before or after the announcement itself.

Banking a rise before the announcement is safest. If the announcement is as expected or worse you might avoid a slump where it becomes hard to sell them again.

The risk here is that the announcement is VERY generous and that popular player surges further. It’s possible. So there is a good case to make for taking profit afterwards given the chances of a positive announcement.

Either can be good. What would sway me towards banking before would be a) a very strong rise in the player ahead of the announcement and b) if I had some really good targets that I think would rise more later on. 

If the announcement brings a wave of positivity it may offer the best chance in a long time to reorganise our portfolios and bid prices may rise significantly.

Where players fit my Key Strategy though I am likely just to hold them. In the case of Core players for example – the dividend increase should make them more valuable and their consistent wins should push them to higher and higher prices.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Final Thoughts

After some rough seas in 2020 we are seeing some positivity return now and if FI get the dividend increase announcement right we could be around the corner from another surge.

Whilst 2020 has been difficult and the inability to sell in particular has held traders back, it really hasn’t been all that bad either considering the scale of what has happened. 

If we have free money there is some swift action to take. There will still be scope for going for some popular/proven returners that should continue to get attention up to the dividend announcement and possibly beyond.

But we also want to take the opportunity to sell any players who are not a long term fit for our strategy if we can.

That can be a tight turnaround because we will want to move fast to exploit the extremely low bids currently available in very strong players.

I am now in something of a “pre-season” mindset. We can think of the remaining games as the pre-season friendlies with a bonus chance of actually winning. 

Our primary focus should be shaping a great portfolio for next season that has that core of players that have what I call the “full season fit”.

For some, that may mean aggressive buying if they have the cash to spare.

For others, and I am in this group, it might mean patience with a lot of currently unpopular holds that are very likely to pick up in 4-6 weeks. The bids just haven’t been there in recent months to sell them for sensible prices.

But when we can free up cash efficiently, I can’t remember seeing so much value around and it is a great moment to exploit that.

As usual, I will provide my thoughts on every twist and turn along the way in my weekly State of the Market post plus the Live Blogs around the FI announcements.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


What if I have no spare cash or balance?

Ideally right now a trader would have spare cash or balance because there is so much value around and also a short term opportunity to cash in on the dividend increase.

However, provided I had a portfolio that was in the main a good fit for the Key Strategy ahead I wouldn’t stress too much.

Some of these core players, maybe the Bundesliga ones as a good example, may be unfashionable at the moment but if they are good enough and a good fit for the selection criteria they should have much better times ahead.

I definitely do not have as much free balance as I would like but right now I don’t think I could ever have enough money to buy all of the players that look good value. Some of these bids are silly.

So we should focus on what we can do and if we do see a surge in the market around the dividend increase that may be a great opportunity to move some players on and free up cash.

There are great opportunities right now but there are always great opportunities. Don’t force it by selling good players to chase things now would be my advice. And don’t break your kids piggybank open to finance it either! 🙂

What if I’m holding players that I have no long term confidence in with weak bid prices? Am I stuck?

You might well be stuck, yes.

With FI no longer buying bad bets the player will only ever be worth what someone else is willing to pay.

Bad players are bad players and if they have no real possibility of winning a dividend ever they are effectively worthless. It may be necessary to just take whatever price you can get which is better than zero.

There might be a chance that a surge in the market bumps up that bid price so there is a case for waiting and hoping. But it is a slim hope.

I have seen some people say “But any player can win a dividend”. They can, in the same way that I have a chance of becoming an astronaut. 

Assuming I try my best and  hundreds of thousands of better qualified people all pass up the job I have a shot! And nobody can say I definitely don’t.

Such players may well win a dividend in a fluke but even if they do it is unlikely to happen again and nobody will want to bet on it. Technically they are not worthless but for all intents and purposes, they are.

This issue is particularly hitting the low end of the market (but the thinking also applies to good but overpriced players). 

We should feel confident in shopping in the bargain area if we have researched a player well and think we know something most people don’t. But most of them are garbage.

The warning is that this is going to happen to popular players too not just the lower end. There will be dozens of players in the current top 200 who get outed as frauds over the next season or two and in the new world of the Matching Engine any player can drop by 50-100% over weeks/months of bad performances or even overnight if something happens to spark that.

This new reality of the Matching Engine is the beginning of the end for extremely high risk trading and the ones who prosper from here won’t need to be taught that the hard way.

What about IPD?

Stay tuned to State of the Market but at this time I am not advising trading specifically for IPD purposes

The nervousness at the cheap end of the market makes it too hard to move these players and the old strategy of rotating out and in is currently proving too difficult.

There may be exceptions where a player is performing so well they should keep their spread low and I will highlight these in scouting.

Also the rumours of FI going cold on IPD could mean that IPD is not increased with the rest of the dividends – which will put a downer on them (even though IPD may remain fairly generous). 

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019
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