On Friday night as I prepared for the Live Blog I was expecting a fairly straight forward announcement. A flat-ish rise across the board, probably a 40-50% increase.
I reasoned that with all the difficulties going on with the transition to the Matching Engine, and the large spreads on many players, FI might not want to rock the boat. This is why they dodged any performance scoring changes after all.
But that wasn’t how it went down! My jaw hit the floor when they introduced Team of the Month (TOTM from now on) and Goalkeeper dividends. We knew TOTM was a long term ambition but FI hadn’t mentioned it at all recently.
We ended up with a less than expected dividend increase which is hard to put an exact percentage on but it’s closer to 30% than the hoped for 40-50%. Now that’s not actually too far below expectation.
But a lot of people were hyping a 100% increase and as I said before the announcement – this is a dumb thing to do. It doesn’t pressure FI into doing it against their better judgement, it just means anything less is seen as disappointing which is bad for everyone.
So the Live Blog ended up being exciting and went on long into the night as there was so much to talk about. But the event was tinged with a little disappointment. For some, there was clear anger on display too.
But on reflection, I think people will eventually start seeing that this is no bad thing at all.
Over the weekend, I have actually come to the view that the smaller dividend increase at this point is actually better than a large one for the longer term health of the product.
That may sound like an odd thing for a trader to say, but let me explain why.
Ok FIT. Explain your madness.
To understand why FI did what they did we have to step back and think about why dividend increases happen at all. And a little of FI’s process.
The purpose of a dividend increase is to rebalance the incentives for traders once market growth outstrips the dividends available.
Basically, all being well, prices will eventually hit a point where dividend yields are too low for traders to rationally keep their money in FI much longer.
If FI are doing their job right, they will time an increase at least a few months before that happens.
So when Adam Cole and his top lieutenants sat down and worked out the new dividend structure they will have paid very close attention to the realistic returns available and how much value there is in the market.
Now, as I have been saying on repeat for weeks now – I can’t remember there ever being this much obvious value sitting right there in the open screaming at us.
On Blue Button prices before the Matching Engine value was getting quite difficult to come by. But the ME flipped that on it’s head – not because FI dictated the prices but because traders did.
Traders are creating value in the market by selling good players for much less than they are worth out of ignorance or panic or both.
If you sit down and look at the rational dividend yields in many good players you could still expect them to return 20-30% of their price in dividends in one season even before the increase.
This is primarily because lots of good players are available on very cheap bids.
A player I rate at for example could reasonably be expected to return 40-70p in performance dividends if they are in decent form and playing consistently. So even paying £3 for that player you might get 20% back per season. Maybe 30-40% if paying £2.
And many of these or or level players are available for £3, £2 or even £1 in some cases on cheap bids.
This is all before you factor in the recent increase and TOTM. Those returns are going to get higher.
The hard reality is that the vast majority of good players did not need a dividend increase to make them value. They already were.
They have just got one anyway though, and this means that FI have just made a whole swathe of players incredible value. This is one reason why I remain very optimistic for the 4-6 months ahead particularly for Key Strategy.
And the incredible value available is almost certainly why Adam Cole didn’t give a bigger increase right now.
So who did need a huge dividend increase?
There are some players though that badly needed a big dividend increase to make them good value again. They needed at least 50% and in some cases up to 100% to bring them back into the realm of reasonable value.
They tend to be some of the most popular players that people have clustered into out of hype or just that tendency to follow crowds or social media garbage.
Now some players out there are at high prices that they can justify. Bruno is the best example. Neymar is another.
But many aren’t. They live on hype and speculation.
It’s large holders of these overpriced players that are going to be most upset and angry that they didn’t get the big increase. This is their fault though – not FI’s. In trading, when you stick in overpriced players too long on some false premise like “career dividends” you put yourself in a weak position that invites disappointment.
You can pay too much for good players and it’s a really common mistake that stifles profits even at the best of times. Yes some keep rising but most go on to drop.
Whilst you get those rare pumps that do very well over months and just seem to never stop, the strategy as a whole leads you to more big crashes than it does big gains if you follow every hyped player going.
Because the market has been constantly rising, powered by large dividend increases and bonuses, this kind of bad trading has become a habit for many. Even routine. Worse – lots of people actually think this is good trading and the veterans can be more vulnerable to it than the newer traders.
Why bother getting any better if FI will just come along and compensate for your bad decision with a huge dividend increase?
And in the past, if something bad happened FI would take that bad bet off your hands for a small spread anyway. Not anymore – you have to sell that bad bet to another trader and they won’t be anywhere near as generous as FI used to be.
The smaller increase has hurt those players. I’m not going to name names because I’m considering making parts of this article public in a couple of days once members have had chance to read it. But you will know who they are from Scouting.
These old, lazy habits are going to be punished in the world of the Matching Engine. People who cannot adapt will simply end up giving a big chunk of their money to better traders. They will then get frustrated and have to sell up what they can and leave the platform.
This has always been inevitable once FI matured. And the Matching Engine is going to speed that process up a hell of a lot.
In short, when FI introduced the Matching Engine, they took the training wheels off the market.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much value out there but it’s on us to find it – we shouldn’t wait for FI to hand it to us.
We’re out of nursery. We’re in Big School now.
The "Bottom" of the Market
Cheap players have had a particularly rough ride from the Matching Engine. But this isn’t always because cheap players are bad – it reflects trader nervousness about any player that seems unfashionable at the moment.
But if that player is good enough they will eventually prove it and the collective view on them will change.
A common narrative on Friday night was “this does nothing for the bottom of the market and everything for the top“.
This isn’t quite it.
The dividing line between winners and losers is not just price. It’s quality and price.
If you have a cheap, high quality player at under £1.50 this dividend increase is fantastic news. They were great value before. They are even better value now.
If you had a high quality player at a reasonable price, maybe the £2-5 range (not including any bonus value for media etc) it’s good for you too.
Potentially very good for you if your players have Champions League/Europa League involvement and have high average scores to go with their high peak scores.
If you had a poor quality player that was never likely to win anything anyway yes, it is very bad news for you. Not because that player particularly changed in value – a 30% increase on nothing is still nothing.
But because there is now a greater incentive to stop holding bad players and push your money towards better ones. This is as it should be.
This is another lesson that the Matching Engine is going to drum into traders again and again.
In a world where you will always need someone else to buy your bet once you are done – we will have to stop making bad bets.
We can and should shop in the bargain basement but highly selectively. You have to be pretty damn sure through good research that you know something very few other people do.
We should stop holding bad players and expecting someone else to take them off our hands for a good price. FI used to do this and it’s why this bad habit could form – but they won’t do that anymore.
And other traders almost never will either unless they are getting a rock bottom price.
A Note on Media and Tweak to Key Strategy
I highlighted this in the Live Blog on Friday night but it’s worth highlighting again.
The relative increase for media is less than it was for performance.
And worse for big media holders there is a clear statement of intent from FI that performance, not media, is the heart of the platform. Which suggests that future changes will continue reinforcing this.
Media remains an important factor sure. Particularly in the off-seasons, though we are not going to see a lot of off-season for quite some time.
We have a packed schedule next season plus Euro 2021 at the end. This squeezes the number of media days. The only conclusion is that we will see more dividends paid to performance and less to media.
The net result is an inevitable closing of the gap between the premium players who rely heavily on media (notably the top 10 but extending to top 20 in some cases) and the rest.
After this event I would amend Key Strategy to reduce the % of our portfolios that go to the big premiums perhaps to 10% with 15% as a maximum.
However I remain optimistic on proven returners who are not over reliant on media and this includes Neymar and Bruno who were my picks of the premium bunch anyway.
They are boosted by performance as it is and so any loss in media is likely to be compensated for (and then some) by TOTM dividends and increased performance dividends.
As I’ve said for a while – premiums who are over reliant on media, and have not yet proven performance strength were risky anyway and recent events show exactly why.
Why I think smaller was better on reflection
Bearing in mind the above – it makes me think how unhealthy a 100% dividend increase would have been right now.
Obviously as existing traders we always want an immediate easy gain.
But it would have powered the overpriced players even further, further skewing the market. And further reinforcing the idea that you can keep getting away with bad decisions and FI will vindicate you eventually.
Yes, the other players would have caught up with them later. The top does drag up the rest.
But overall I think given the extreme value that is out there it is no bad thing whatsoever to put the emphasis on us as traders to go and find it.
People are eventually going to have to learn to profit without massive dividend increases anyway so why keep kicking the can down that road?
We’re also being more than a little spoilt with sniffing at a 30%+ increase. Any other investors in any other form of trading I can think of would rip your arm off for that.
It also creates scope for further increases later when the timing is right. Adam Cole has not signed in blood that there will be only one increase per year.
And the subtle phrasing of the announcement leaves wiggle room for this:
“We’ll update the Dividend Table annually and based on market growth“
The addition of and leaves it open. If FI deem a dividend increase is needed because value in the market is exhausted I would fully expect them to do it.
But we aren’t even close. There is so much value out there it is stunning.
The main problem I think most of us have is the growing pains of the Matching Engine plus it being close to the off-season making it currently difficult to sell anything.
That is the real frustration we have right now.
Needing a huge dividend increase to create value is just not a problem we have unless you hold too many shares in overpriced players.
I expect the selling issue to settle down over the next few months and the “offer” side of the Matching Engine cannot come soon enough to help that along.
I can laugh about it. But this is the element of the announcement that still leaves me a bit nonplussed.
It may be an opportunity to realise a long term goal of fixing the slight oddity that nobody ever cared about goalkeepers.
But who really cared about that? When was the last time you heard anyone say “That Saturday Gold Day was alright. But it’s a shame about the keepers.”
Absolutely nobody cared about this. Ok there were always a few keeper fetishists out there but in tiny numbers.
And the timing? Pretty dire.
Nobody needed this to happen and it really amplified the impact of the lower than expected dividend increase.
Most notable early on is that Goalkeepers absorbed all of that immediate dumb money that people spend after the announcement.
Without the Goalkeeper change that money would have likely piled into Team of the Month players – popular and high quality performance picks.
That could have gotten them some momentum and eased a lot of people’s anxiety.
And nobody really benefited other than the handful of idiots/geniuses (I can’t quite work out what they are) who put big bets on goalkeepers before the announcement.
As well as a few who got lucky in the “fastest finger and working app first” game.
And second of all – the dividends that will now go to goalkeepers could have been used to boost the payouts further in the existing categories – i.e another 1p on the Gold Day wins or similar.
That to me would have been a far better use of the cash.
I may be wrong. FI may be sitting on customer research that tells them they’d have a ton more customers if goalkeepers were more relevant.
But I can’t see it.
Ah well. Some people will enjoy finding some value here and there will be some. The payouts may be small but the competition is weak in this category as there are so few of them.
I don’t mind the change but I am surprised/nonplussed with the timing.
Team of the Month
This is great. Love the addition and it further rewards some high quality players.
And will lessen that blow/disappointment of your player being pipped to the dividend by a point or missing out just because they didn’t get the matchwinner. That decent score will still count for something.
And it’s another exciting thing to watch as the month progresses and then concludes.
It’s fantastic news for the “Core” player I describe in Key Strategy. High quality and with the additional chances to win that the CL/Europa bring.
There is the multiplier as well which should be a cheat code for these players in CL/Europa league months.
“the Champions League and Europa League Match Day score multiplier will be applied to Team of the Month match scores.”
My interpretation of this as per the Live Blog is that boosted CL/Europa scores will count towards Team of the Month for the players who get them.
An alternative interpretation would be that ALL Team of the Month scores have the modifier applied to ensure a level playing field. This was a member question on Friday night. On reflection I can see more how you could reach this conclusion.
It’s clumsily phrased on FI’s part for sure.
This would strike me as a very odd thing to do.
I haven’t seen any further FI statement on this – if anyone is aware of one please share it with me.
I would suspect that this will only go to CL/Europa players though.
In any event – it is still good for CL/Europa players. Even if all players benefited from the scoring bonus CL/Europa players would still have more chances to put up big scores.
5 rolls of the dice rather than 3 for example. And particularly in the early stages they are often facing weak opposition and can hammer them 5-0.
So either way we are going to see CL/Europa players dominating TOTM. They tend to be the better players anyway and they will have more chances to win.
If I pick good players it’s like I am rolling a dice that goes from 1-9 and have 5 rolls where as someone with bad players has a normal 1-6 dice and can only roll it 3 times. Whose going to win almost all the time?
If however only CL/Europa players get the bonus it will barely be a contest at all.
Kimmich and Depay
Q: There seems to be a lot of negative chat about Kimmich on Twitter and I saw you say you think he should benefit? (I value your opinion 1000% more than twitter FYI!)
I know historically you’ve not been keen on Kimmich but does this announcement change your mind on him or is him benefiting for TOTM not enough to overlook his lack of peak scores? Seems to have the perfect trend fit as well – age/Bayern/CL/Germany although I know he’s pricey.
A: Thanks for the kind words!
Yes my initial thought on Kimmich on Friday night was that he would benefit quite strongly from TOTM and I still think that in the cold light of day.
To clarify I haven’t been negative on Kimmich so much as Kimmich’s price. He’s definitely a very relevant FI player even in midfield because of his sheer consistency.
But people really overheated on him and he became overpriced. In the old dividend structure closer to £3 would have looked good value, £3.50 acceptable. £4+? Pushing it.
Putting Kimmich aside for a moment the perfect TOTM player will be a high baseline player who also gets big peaks (obviously). The reason I highlight that obvious point anyway is because we should avoid people pushing players who get 150-200 as an average as “TOTM players”.
They are still, by and large, going to get smashed by the form big peak score players, just like they do in normal performance scoring.
Lots will be made too of these dividend tables where people comb this season’s historic scores and work out what players would have won. That’s fun to do sure. Does it tell us much about what will happen next season? Not really.
For a start the dividing line between having 40p of TOTM dividends on the board and 12p is a fine margin and can be pure luck. Missing out by 10 points in a month can totally change your historic return. But does it make him any worse a player than the one who did get those extra few points? Very unlikely.
And then as another layer of luck – Kimmich I can recall a few times has been an unlucky player who has been robbed of a few matchwinners etc and could have put up more peak scores than are on his record. Other players have had the rub of the green and will show more peak scores on their record. Doesn’t make them any more likely to get lucky again in future.
So, shopping by historic dividends and historic scores is generally a dumb move. And it’s no different for TOTM purposes as it is for normal performance purposes.
What you can use these historic metrics for is prediciting who idiots will buy as they follow the historic charts. But you need knowledge of the real match stats to know whether the chart reflects a reasonable expected return or is just bad or good luck. That is what scouting is there to help with.
So will we see Kimmich win a decent amount of TOTM dividends? Very likely.
Will it be enough to justify £5? Much more questionable because he was starting around £1 over priced as it was. He’s not far off though and I’d be happy to pay £4.50 for Kimmich after the increase.
If holding I would have cashed out on his hype rise and if I could get him again for his current bid price of £4.39 I’d be happy with that.
On Depay. Lack of CL/Europa is obviously a blow. Was anyway. More so now with TOTM.
Not every player is going to tick every box we want and that doesn’t mean we rule them out automatically.
Other factors in his favour: Extremely strong performance suitability in my ratings system. Netherlands for Nations League/Euro 2021. Possible big transfer probably next Summer but slim chance of rumours sooner.
Strong age and general profile. Big character for media so a future EPL move could be very big.
If holding – I’d keep at his £4 to £4.51 price. I think he can justify that with a long term view.
If admiring from afar – it may be that the lack of CL/Europa will depress the price and people may become over negative on that. Certainly if you start seeing him on a bid for £3.90 or so I’d be very happy with that.
I am going to introduce a weekly look at the Dashboard Trends in State of the Market with changes highlighted in light green/light red respectively.
(Usually this article has more on specific market movements that will accompany this but right now I think focusing on the announcement fallout was the right thing to cover!).