After time to absorb the shock, and yesterday spent discussing the overall situation, there are lots of people who want to know exactly how we might prepare a portfolio for Leagues and exactly which players might suit the system.

As discussed, FI may not last long enough to see Leagues in action. There is still hope, and there are routes back for FI from this should they take the right steps. What are we giving them right now, 50/50?

But nonetheless, I have spoken to a great number of people in recent days who are keen for Scouting to continue for a variety of reasons.

Many still have money and interest left in FI. They may want to know who is looking good right now to snag some of the big dividends in the weeks ahead before Leagues is adopted. Either to salvage something and withdraw them, or to reinvest them into cheaper players.

Some have decided they are sticking it out, preferring to hope for a recovery rather than withdraw a small sum of money that wouldn’t mean a great deal to them. They want to optimise their portfolios for a Leagues future, and there are options here.

Others have pulled out, but are watching and wondering whether FI will do anything that makes them feel confident to return. And in many ways may fear a recovery as it would be gutting to watch prices climb now if they cashed out on that grim Saturday morning.

So, in this article, I am going to get more into the specifics of Leagues, and exactly how we might prepare a portfolio for it. I’ll discuss the structure of such a portfolio first. Then move on to what sorts of players (with examples) are likely to succeed in the new system. I will not be caveating every second sentence with “should FI continue” from here. 

We all know that and spent enough time discussing it yesterday.

We don’t know what will happen and should things take a turn for the better, we want to be ready. 

And there are even some moves we can make now to improve our portfolio or at least salvage more than we otherwise might have.

What factors should influence a Leagues portfolio?

Leagues is not a world away from what we are used to. It’s the same scoring matrix in which we have tons of experience. 

They have said they are going to review the matrix but this is longer term. And I also think this is pointless now and they may not end up doing much.

All of the main problems the scoring matrix had are dialled back because of Leagues and the new system.

I am not going to be making this potential change a major factor. I have added an optional note at the end if anyone wants further thoughts on this, but I don’t think it’s worth dwelling on at the top of the article.

In Leagues, the main changes for us to care about are:

– payouts are lower yet spread more widely, so we need multiple winners in a “Squad”, not a single Star.

– the winning bar is lower. Previous strugglers like Haaland being the prime example are now viable regular winners. We want to think about who now gets caught in our net that would not have before.

– good players are still good. The winning bar is lower. If they could get over it before when competing in 5 leagues, you can be damn sure they will get over it now when competing in just 1. And more often.

– for a rewarding match day we need to take home as many of the 36 potential dividends as possible, which requires what I am calling a “Squads” strategy with good coverage of all 5 leagues.

Match day trading considerations:

– in terms of getting price rises for winning players on match day as well as dividends, we need players who can win again, and again, and again. Not many will be chasing obscure random 10-30p players who might eventually win a 1p or 2p dividend – we saw that with Match Day Extra. 

– Price rises will often be driven by players who win consistently (i.e if a player wins once he may not rise much. If he wins again the week after? People will spot the consistency most likely). 

– Another priority would be strong trend fit players. i.e it may only take 1 win for Jones at Liverpool, Diallo at Manchester United, or Wirtz at Leverkusen to get a decent rise as they are so attractive.

– There is now no longer one obvious “Star” to chase on a match day. Flippers will struggle to know who exactly to flip as there can be up to 36 winners rather than 5 and 1 Star. This will possibly lead to more steady trading in general, that has to reward consistent performers rather than chasing that one obvious winner of the day.

– The time we spent arguing over dividend deadlines on match days was for nothing. The dividend itself for just 1 player is no longer a powerful incentive to buy. You can put the deadline wherever you want now, it doesn’t matter much. 

– However, I think with Leagues the problems caused by the late deadline are much reduced – there is no massive dividend to chase – so the incentive to rush to buy is much lower. Decisions about who to buy on match day will likely be far more considered. I am not sure it will therefore acheive FI’s goal of incentivising trading enough for it to be worth the extra payouts, but we’ll see.

A Squads Portfolio Structure

This is a guideline structure for a portfolio that looks decent for Leagues. 

Squads Portfolio

Target Player Numbers: 50-70. 

I would say this is a good range for most people. Wide enough to spread risk and catch a good number of winners come match day. Not so wide we are carrying too many passengers.

Personally I would want to be towards the lower end of that range at around 50 as I like to back my picks with a decent chunk of change.

But this is flexible. 

I think an aggressive trader who wants fast results, usually traders who are playing with a small pot by their standards, could drop this significantly. They would prioritise riding price rises more than collecting dividends, attempting to really zero on the 30 or so best possible picks. 

Higher risk. Higher skill required. Potential higher rewards here. 

I would probably not recommend going for less than 30, unless you are either extremely aggressive and are determined to get rich or go down tryin’, or like me in the New Trader Challenge of long ago, are trying to show off to elbow your way into a crowded social media scene. 

This screenshot was 18/19 where I blogged a portfolio of around 10 players over a season starting with a £1k pot and ending with £3.2k a 220% gain. 

The screenshot shows how the portfolio was at season end. I wonder how many of you have been around long enough to remember this!

Very aggressive low player strategies can be done, but you can also blow yourself up this way. Most people should stay around 50-70 I think.

Would you go above 70 players? I don’t like this personally. Even 70 feels a little bit too high for my taste. We spend so much time homing in the absolute best players and we should use that information. And there are only so many really optimal choices at any one time. 

So by the time we get to 70 or more, we are probably carrying some pretty mediocre selections.

The only circumstances I might go closer to 100 would be if I was kicked in the head by a horse and all my FI knowledge leaked out onto the pavement. Or if I knew I wasn’t paying much attention to my portfolio for a good few months. 

But a portfolio of more than 70 is just never getting even close to optimal results. It is not possible.

Staking Strategy

But the number of players is actually not the most important thing about how to cut up a portfolio for optimal results and good risk management. It’s staking strategy.

A good staking strategy makes you “lucky” more often.

This is so important to big returns. Two traders could buy exactly the same players and have wildly different results depending on their staking strategy. Everyone has one, even if they aren’t aware they do.

For example:

Target: 40 players at £35k.

1.25% small buy – £400 x 10 players.

2.5% standard buy – £900 x 25 players.

5% big buy – £1700 x 5 players

Cut up a portfolio in a sensible way like this, without being overly heavy in any one particular player no matter how good, and I would be very, very confident you will have fewer days when you take a massive hit to your overall portfolio just because Coman breaks his leg or Sancho ends up playing for West Ham.

And it also offers a bit of protection if FI were to make some kind of change that, for example, absolutely obliterated the value of a specific group of players like (cough) the premiums.

The other important thing it does is makes sure you do not have too little in a player. “Limping in” to a player like this is bad practice. It gives you another player to monitor and worry about and you don’t even win that much when they do well. Pick the player or do not. Be confident in them or don’t.

There is more on Staking strategy in this guide here.


How should all this change the make up of a portfolio?

Now we have a target structure of 50-70 players (or whatever you have chosen to suit) cut up in some kind of sensible staking strategy.

So what types of players do we want in it?

Premiums – 0-30% total portfolio value.

A wide range here because I would say Premiums are optional now at least longer term. Because we no longer need Star Players to succeed, premiums have obviously had their wings clipped. Severely.


Traders did not behave based on rational values on Saturday morning. They behaved like people who wanted to take money out as fast as possible.

So as of now, Premiums, whilst they took a hit in all this mess, are significantly undervalued now in rational terms

They have been oversold. And they are attractive.

Certainly if building a portfolio right now from scratch, I would personally stack it with at least 20% premiums. Maybe even 30% shorter term. Which is high by my usual standards.

Reason being – in any market recovery people are always likely to go for these first. Even if just out of old habits. And the idea of getting Haaland, and Mbappé and Bruno and the like whilst they are cheap is just irresistable to many. 

So, I would certainly start from now with a good chunk of Premiums myself. And, if we do hit that stage of recovery where the Premiums are returning to say £2.50+ it is likely that I would reduce that, possibly to 15% or maybe even less. Shifting that money to cheaper players who are by that stage superior value.

Examples of desirable premiums: Haaland. Sancho. Bruno. Kimmich. Mbappé. Foden. Neymar.

Messi – interesting one. He’ll still be very solid as a consistent winner. And you still have the positive risk of him coming to the EPL. But this is no longer a constant rain of big media and performance dividends. Messi is much less attractive from that point of view as his star potential is cut down. Yet he is also much, much cheaper. 

The fact Messi has to be puzzled out at all suggests we may just want to go for the easier option that fewer people will have trouble with. I would prioritise the younger options above personally. But you could make Messi an early contender for our “Retirement Home” section – at under £1 you may be able to buy him and just hold into retirement, probably coming out ok even if you never sell at all. 


Core Players – 60-70% total portfolio value.

Core Players means players who are going to be bringing us home dividends again and again and again. Racking up not just dividends but consistent positive sentiment that should also push their prices up as they prove their strength.


– Strong in the FI matrix

Which used to mean ideally 3.5 out of 5 stars or above in my ratings, which anticipated perhaps 5-8 serious chances to win a dividend in a season. Leagues takes a hatchet to my star rating system, and it may no longer be helpful to feature lists like this in future, I’ll have to think. But either way, what matters for now is a good performance player who is coming out well in my Scouting generally.

– We generally want them to be playing regularly for a big club with a high win percentage.

– Involvement in the UCL or Europa League this season, ideally. Although this is now less of a requirement and more of a bonus.

– I’d also say start looking now at who is qualifying for the UCL and Europa next season. That’s a big bonus, and it will help them to keep momentum come Summer.

– Euro 2020 involvement. This is another big bonus. If FI do, as expected, offer some kind of Euro 2020 promotion, the big hitters are going to do well out of that. And even sooner than the Euros – they will maintain optimism longer into the season, being somewhat immune from the fear of the “end of season sell off” (Remember when that was the biggest problem we had? Happier times). 

– If we find a player matching all of the above, and they are under 25, I would be more likely to go for them very aggressively, probably making them one of my “big buys” as above in staking strategy.

– The 25 to 29 age range is very acceptable, particularly when you are able to get them cheaply. I would likely have no hestitation in picking up such a player in this age range if they met most of the above criteria

–  At 30+, particularly 32+ we want to be more cautious now. Unless we are getting them at extremely low prices (well under 50p?) and they meet a lot of the above criteria. I would still buy a 30 to 32+ year old, but they would have to be exceptional, meeting almost all of the above, and probably being 4 out of 5 stars or above too (i.e better than just good, exceptional). 

– Players do not have to tick all of these boxes. Most of them is good enough, and the cheaper they are, the less pressure they are under to meet all of our wish list.

– Note that the bar will have lowered so we can bring in some of the former “IPD strikers” and possibly high baseliner mids/CB’s too. I will feature more on this tomorrow (Was going to cover this today, but it is getting late, and there is no point me publishing something at 10pm it’s too late for anyone to read. So I’ll split the article). 

These Core players form the bulk of a good “Squads” portfolio.

Examples: Cancelo. Guerreiro. Goretzka. Insigne. Chiesa. Kroos. Andre Silva. Verratti. Sabitzer. Dybala. Depay. Olmo. Calhanoglu. Eriksen (if he keeps his spot!). Bailey. Insigne. Gnabry. Mount. Curtis Jones.

Note that this is not a preferential list in any way, Scouting from recent weeks is full of players as good or possibly better than this who would also meet this criteria.

High Potential Youth and Transfers – 10% total portfolio value.

Here we are talking about players who might start making appearances at big clubs at least by next season. Ideally, they will be at least making sub appearances now. 

And we can lump the potential transfers in here – players who might be in an ineligible league or a small team but have a realistic chance of a move this Summer.

This is always a fun part of the portfolio that I particularly enjoy. However.

Right now at this point in time, I would deprioritise it.

There are so many current stars of European football going begging for such low prices that we currently have little need to be chasing next seasons next big thing.

The time will come.

I would suggest it is not in the next few weeks. We’ll have other priorities.

For this type of player, I will generally look for:

  • 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.
Even now, I think it is probably good to have a few of these, if you can find some really, really strong ones who are very good for performance, not actually too far away from making an impact, and currently very cheap. 
Examples: Amad Diallo Traoré, Gravenberch, Enock Mwepu, Almada, Tsygankov. Musiala. Bellingham. Harvey Elliott. Cherki. 

Final Thought for Today

Largely, the above example players are familiar to regular readers. Maybe not to those brave few new readers, who, to my surprise, have been joining in recent days.

This is because a good player in the old system is still a good player in Leagues, most likely. And they will also be value in most cases. Certainly now that prices have been hammered down to match the lower payouts. 

You will also note that we still want to maintain wide coverage of all the Leagues. This marketing guff about being able to focus on “just your own league” should be disregarded for traders who want optimal results. 

I would probably advise a new trader to start in their home league. But if they want to do really well on FI they would want to branch out to the other leagues eventually. And experienced traders should too.

To get worthwhile returns in this system – we need to be competing for as many dividends as possible that are going, not just those of 1 league.

In Leagues, we may also need to start paying more attention to the fixture calendar. But with prices so low, if making decisions now to prepare for Leagues, I’d just hoover up the best value quality players in general, fixtures aren’t that important right now.

I would be extremely confident taking a portfolio that looked something like this into Leagues.

And, what you will notice, is that even though the world of FI has been upended, the sort of portfolio that I would generally be using, and the sorts of players that would come out of my Scouting well are also very likely to succeed in Leagues. 

So I am hoping that many members can read this and feel like they are in a good place already with what they have. At least the ones who listen to me. I know there are many who don’t but just like to read it which is fine too!

However, we can do better. 

Tomorrow, I will take a look at some of the other players who we would not have picked before. Players who can now be brought into the fold due to the lowered winning bar.

And I leave you with an optional reading note on how I will handle the possible matrix change. But long story short – I am not going to stress about this now.

Note on Possible Matrix Change

FI have said they are going to review the matrix but this is longer term, over the coming months.

And I also think this is pointless now and they may not end up doing much.

All of the main problems the scoring matrix had are dialled back because of Leagues and the new system.

Not that it is perfect. It is that imperfections matter less. An irritating feature like someone winning because they took an extra corner or made 1 more pass is now costing us 1p to 3p a share, it is not costing us up to 28p a share now. 

So people will just care a lot less about perfection. These inconsistencies will basically now all come out in the wash – sometimes falling our way, sometimes not.

If having the perfect scoring system ranked 10/10 for it’s importance in a jackpot model where 1 point can mean victory or defeat, it ranks probably 6/10 for importance now. Losing that extra 2p ain’t going to be upsetting us that much.

I’d say that stability is more important than fine tuning the accuracy, right now.

And the winning bar is now low enough to let previously weak favourites like Haaland compete with a couple of goals, maybe even 1 match winning goal now. Same for Mbappé. Lots of former “IPD strikers” benefit. Even Centre Backs, high baseline low threat midfielders. There are more players that can join in with the dividend party now many of whom are popular.

I will not make any potential scoring matrix change at this time a heavy factor. I expect it to take months, be relatively minor in the end, and probably, if FI is to recover, that recovery will hit well before we see a new matrix. 

If however you wanted to factor this in, you would probably steer more towards goal scorers and assisters, and slightly less towards low threat low assist potential high baseliners. Most people will be clamouring for the exciting stuff to be rewarded more after all. (It is already rewarded a lot if you ask me and they should leave the high baseliners alone there is more to great football than goals). 

Personally, I will not be stressing too much about the potential matrix changes anytime soon.

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