Subject: The Football Index newsletter is back! International Football Review

The Football Index newletter is back! After tossing and turning, going back and forth with blogs vs. newsletters - the newsletter/blog team have settled on going back to newsletter form. And of course, I've spent a lot of time finding the best way to do it....and I've finally found a decent provider! (Thanks mostly to FIT)

Liam, Trader, Buzzing paul and I are back - and we've signed Ginger Pirlo on an undisclosed Fee! He's going to have a 'short term trading' entry every fornight with us, off the back of his excellent  'Can i make a living on Football Index' blog. In this newsletter we're concentrating on an Index first, EURO qualifier PB and how it impacted the index. It's new, exciting - and the guys had a lot to say about it. As always, there's a back to the future(s) entry from Buzzing Paul, which I'm sure you'll all enjoy!
Football Index is about to turn four years old but that doesn’t mean we’re not still experiencing firsts, which we were reminded of during the recent international break that saw European Qualifying matches illegible for performance dividends and in play dividends for the first time. Generally, this was a well-received change, with 90% of a poll I ran expressing that they preferred having match day dividends, albeit just double days, rather than treble media for the whole period. Although it seems a small change, it definitely had an impact on the market and raised plenty of talking points.

Firstly, it has to be said it was much more exciting. For a long time, international breaks have been seen at a boring period on Football Index where your only real profitable opportunity was to mop up media dividends with premium holds or buy England goal scorers and hope for a rise. With matchday dividends, although England players still did well with the media, there were plenty more opportunities to profit. We saw lots of players who aren’t usually too valuable becoming of some worth in the build-up to the international fixtures, some excessively so, with rises for those players taking on the worst teams Europe have to offer seeing their value balloon and subsequently deflate in many cases. A couple of good examples come from Poulsen and Mertens, whose price graphs you can see below.

I expect a lot of this rise was brought on by hype of it being the very first international break with match day dividends and it’ll be interesting to see if people decide to act in the same way for the next international break next month. I imagine many of those who got caught still holding players like those mentioned above will now be planning to just hold and get rid of them in the next break on a rise. This would increase the number of people looking to sell and simultaneously reduce the number of people buying so we may see reduced rises to some extent but I imagine many will be seeing it as a similar opportunity to the last break, buying early and looking to get out earlier to beat the inevitable drop afterwards.

As briefly mentioned above, there are some losers of this change, and that is mainly the premium players who usually pull in a decent amount of media dividends over that period. Of course, we still have media every day and some treble days either side of the fixtures but there was a six-day period where second and third place did not receive dividends when it the past it would have. Neymar took the biggest loss from the change this time around, losing out on 5p of media because of the change. You can see the full list below.

Obviously, this change hasn’t just impacted traders, it impacts Football Index’s business model too, which is worth touching on. When you look at the names on the list above, you get an idea of how this change may actually be positive in terms of reducing dividend liabilities for football index, with those missing out on media dividends being much higher priced than the majority of the matchday winners you would expect in internationals. Even though the total pence paid out daily is expected to be more. So although a 6p day has now become a 13p day (triple media day 3p+2p+1p compared to double MD 3p+3p+3p+2p+2p), the actual amount paid out is unlikely to be much more, if any, in terms of actual payout. The other side of that is that it definitely increases trading, with so many players only valuable during that period getting traded in and out of. This increase in activity and therefore increase in commission begs the question… what is the need for the increased spreads??? This is something I’m sure we will all touch on so I won’t say too much regarding it but it’s certainly not protecting anyone, if anything its discouraging trading and stifling potential buys and rises through fear of not being able to exit a trade without a hefty loss. It’s a trading platform so let people trade!

Overall though, it’s been a welcome change, almost like adding a mini-league on the side of the main event that’s brought back some buzz to international football. I’m sure anyone on Kevin De Bruyne would agree watching him chase down that Ryan Babel score was great entertainment! It’s also likely to encourage more people to watch more games than just the England ones and will certainly have people doing their homework and preparing for the Euro finals in summer much earlier than expected.

Euro 2020 was always going to play a big part in the story of this season.

In all the (justified) fuss about the performance scoring change announcement, the little detail tacked onto the end about the qualifiers counting for performance didn’t quite get the attention it deserved. It has now.

I thought this was huge news and made it a central plank of my Key Strategy over at which was released back in early August.

As the performance scores ticked over for the first time in an international break, it clearly hit home with many that Euro 2020 isn’t something you can just ignore for now and worry about in February next year. It’s an integral part of the season as a whole and will be influencing buy and sell decisions for a long time to come.

We saw huge rises for players who appeared to have secured spots with international sides, particularly if they performed strongly. And some players who were left out took a real bruising.

If last season was dominated by the Share Split as the biggest off-field factor, I think this season will be dominated by Euro 2020 (in the absence of any new announcements from FI towers).

Combined with the new scoring system which is creating some real stand out players who can win and win again, I think the trend direction will increasingly push traders towards an elite selection of players.

Strong performance players who regularly dominate in domestic leagues and have Europa/Champions League involvement with Euro 2020 at the end have a really good “full season story” that will continue to pull traders towards them.

Such players will be in high demand as the season wears on and figuring out who they are early and buying them heavily has been hugely profitable and likely still will be for some time until that area of the market gets saturated.

Eventually, finding value gets hard once everyone has switched onto the theme. But you can generally always find an advantage through good analysis. Whilst the performance scores from the qualifiers are useful data points, we shouldn’t over rely on them.

Traders will have seen already in the domestic leagues how a player can get a one off big score and then fade away. It’s only through detailed analysis of the real match statistics that you can tell the difference between a one hit wonder and a really quality player.

There are definitely players from the qualifiers who scored highly and were bought heavily that are unlikely to do so again. And some players got low scores but actually showed very promising numbers without anyone noticing.

Stand out picks for me from the recent qualifiers?

Griezmann, who did just about everything but score with huge numbers of shots, chances created and overall involvement. He will have better days in a France shirt and looks very strong value to me even at the increasing price. Even without the goal, he wasn’t far off another win.

Coman, who has been covered on the site for a long time is looking very strong and did his chances of starting for France no harm at all with 3 goals and a solid all round display for FI purposes. He got the win and I don’t think it will be his last, he’s consistent.

And great to see Fabian Ruiz starting for Spain who is a player I’ve admired for a long time due to his excellent performance strength. He had a good game and can make a claim to keep starting. He needs to add a bit more short range goal threat to really capitalise on his excellent baselines but he has the potential to reach elite levels on FI.

Interesting to see Barkley start both games too. He has his problems but you aren’t going to find good value England players without them. Despite the rotation and disappointment after a great pre-season, he has actually come close to very big scores twice this season for club and country. When the market is down on a player is often when you can find the best value.

Despite what the average fan may think of him, he is undoubtedly one of England’s best for performance scoring when he starts. The next few weeks could be make or break for him, and it will be particularly interesting to see if he starts the next qualifiers.

There is far too much to cover here, but for those interested members area of my site has two full analysis articles on most of the big teams already with a further part coming very soon covering Portugal, Holland and the Best of the Rest from the smaller teams.

I’ll try and take as wide a view of this as possible, to start with.

Adding euro qualifying PB & IPDs means that more players, in general, have actual value when compared to dividends returns. The more dividends on offer, and the more variant dividends on offer - the less of those pesky 9p players that will literally never win a dividend there’ll be. I mean, sure - some of the cheap dross around is still close to worthless, but fundamentally, these players are now way more valuable than they were before.

More importantly than this, It’s added excitement and energy to the football index community compared to what is usually a very dull, tepid time for the market. It’s added another dimension for traders, allowing many to find a new edge and niche. Various players are pivotal dominating centrepieces to their international teams, whilst being bit part contributors for their club side (Valon Berisha, for example). It’s also interesting to see that whilst some of these EURO qualifier players will only play circa 20-25 games across internationals/club games combined - their dividend potential (at least for this season) is probably far greater than many players who turn out week in week out for their club sides.

It’s good to note that this also makes IPDs more dynamic. Football Index AB has often said on podcasts and in twitter posts alike that there aren’t actually that many ‘good’ 30 day periods across a season, once you take into account the 3 international breaks prior to the year being up - and one after Christmas. It means that it probably stretches the range at which people are willing to buy those heavy volume scorers & assisters to £1.50-£2.00. We’ve seen that with Lewandowski recently for example, who many have said they’re buying ‘for IPDs’.

So this is good for the product, and stimulating for the market - but I always like to take an FI viewpoint on all things Index related, to better understand why decisions like this are made. Simply put - alongside the two aforementioned positives, there’s a big one for FI as well; it saves them money. Triple MB, and MB in general is by far FI’s most costly dividend payout. It’s very predictable, and usually won by high priced players (meaning more futures are in said players, equalling larger payouts). the real footie- a great account on twitter - usually points out how much money FI have saved per day, during these internationals. I'd highly recommend following him!

Looking to the future, I don’t really see any reason why FI don’t look to include cup games - and expand their pool of international games incorporated into PB/IPD. At the end of the day, we want football to be reflected properly on the index. With no signs of MB being fixed anytime soon (including foreign outlets, removing arbitrary biases like united etc.), I think this might be an easier short term fix.

Back to the futures - Buzzing Paul

Hi all, welcome Back to the Future(s).

Matchday dividends were first introduced near the start of the 2017/18 season, and the scoring matrix was changed just before this season. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time (and money) acquiring a reliable historical data set for the new matrix. I’ve got data for the top 5 leagues for the past 4 (and a bit seasons)
I thought I’d start with the highest score in the dataset, it won’t come as a huge surprise to find out it was achieved by Neymar at PSG.

The Match
PSG v Dijon Wednesday 15th January 2018

The Report
Neymar, the world's most expensive player, scored four goals as Paris Saint-Germain thrashed 8-0 at the Parc des Princes in January 2018.

As the result suggests the match was totally one-sided. Angel Di Maria, a Manchester United escapee, scored a brace within the first 15 minutes and this set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Within 25 minutes Edinson Cavani scored another and drew level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Parisians' all-time scoring charts. He notiched his 156th goal for the club and at this point Neymar entered the goalscoring fray.

The highest priced player on the index made it 4-0 shortly before the break and the Brazilian would strike again three minutes before the hour.

His third, at the end of a fine dribble, was complete not long after. There was eventime for Kylian Mbappe, who had started on the bench, to fire a seventh goal beyond a beleaguered Dijon backline.

Neymar rounded off an evening that saw him ascend to the summit of the all-time matchday rankings by burying a penalty past a diving Reynet in the 83rd minute.

The Star Player
Neymar’s score of 390 is the highest score I have recorded in my 4 (ish) season database.
The majority of the points he scored were from the goals he scored.

212/390 points earnt for goals scored
  • 4 Goals @ 45 = 180
  • 4 Shots @ 3 = 12
  • 4 Shots on Target @ 5 = 20

92/390 points were award for his other non-Goal Attacking output
  • 7 Shots @3 = 21
  • 3 Shots On Target @ 5 = 15
  • 2 Big Chances Missed @ -10 = -20
  • 7 Fouls Won @ 4 = 28
  • 11 Attempted Dribbles @ 1 = 11
  • 7 Successful Dribbles @ 2 = 14
  • 2 Corners Won @ 5 = 10
  • 1 Offside @ -5 = -5
  • 1 Win @ 18 = 18

His passing output was also particularly impressive for a forward:

73/390 points were awarded for passes:
  • 61 Passes @ 1 = 61
  • 18 Giveaway Passes @ -3 = 54
  • 2 Assists @ 20 = 40
  • 1 Accurate Through Ball @ 3 = 3
  • 1 Accurate Long Ball @ 2 = 2
  • 1 Cross @ 3 = 3
  • 2 Key Passes @ 6 = 12
  • 2 Big Chances Created @ 3 = 6

His matchday output ends with a few defensive actions that earnt him the last 13/390 points:
  • 1 Tackles @ 3 = 3
  • 1 Tackles Won @ 5 = 5
  • 2 Fouls @ -5 = -10
  • 5 Ball Recoveries @ 3 = 15
Neymar has 3 of top 5 forward within the dataset. He’s the highest priced player on the index for a reason and his first matchday score of the season against Strasbourg only scratched the surface of what is capable of.

If you have any feedback for me, I mostly hang out on #footballindex and @IndexGain Slack’s community.

Ginger Pirlo's Short Term Game

Spread a little love

For the first time ever, International games had match day and In-play dividends, so for those that crave regular action on the Index this was a great move.

The International break was no longer a complete bore fest that you couldn’t wait to be over, like your girlfriend telling you about her day at work or something, yawn, and folk like me had something to think about and something to actually do! Such joy!

We saw rises in players for a few weeks leading up to it to make gains, there were gains to be had on the game days themselves through big performances but also gains to be had on simple things like team news. Batshuayi starting for Belgium got him a 13p rise for e.g. Very nice.

However, much like the Football Index we all know and love, they take a couple of steps forward but one step back. One thing irked many of us throughout this period and that came in the form of exaggerated spreads.

We have seen this behaviour before from FI. When the Champions League got to its latter stages, the risk team implemented huge spreads on players in the hope to avoid drastic sell offs and/or to make big gains for themselves if they do occur.

This was implemented during the Internationals and although some traders claimed they liked it, I for one don’t as it adds a dark cloud or two on a lovely sunny day that people can’t avoid and worry about.

When you are looking for short term action, having a spread as big as A.S.P’s ego on a player can put traders off getting involved and just stagnates what could be a profitable moment on a player. Which makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

An example, Giroud was in the starting line-up at home to Andorra. This would usually bring a bit of action on his price of 71p as traders buy in the hope of the sexy beast smashing in a few goals.

However, his spread was jacked from 2p to 9p and instead of a healthy rise, he went up a measly 2p come kick off. Not many were interested in buying into that and I can’t blame them.

Not only that but FI changed players spread mid-game, so if you had already bought a player with a much lower “normal” sized spread, this sudden change could get you a little hot under the collar.

I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s fair game.

On the next International break, I hope to see this “risk activity” shelved and let traders get on with a match day like they would any other time of the season.

No one wants their bet to be changed mid-way through and this kind of uncertainty only leads to less activity. So, stop it. Shove your exaggerated spreads up your a&$£

Peace out. :D

Research, Resources, Tools & Tips:

Audio Content:
  • FigCast Ep 100 : A very, very special show in which I was joined Live, in a pub by Sam Freedman, Football Index SOTD and Tall Bob FI in front of a jam packed venue! You can also check out the video version here, if that's what you prefer! 
  • I (FIG) was a guest on the Business of Betting Podcast, one of the largest betting podacts out there - which was a true honour! Hopefully I managed to get the FI name out there a bit :)

Video Content:
  • I made a video on how football Index actually make money. If you're looking to learn more about FI as a business, and how they keep the lights on - you can watch that here
  • RB Leipzig have started off on fire in the Bundesliga. TIFO Football made this great video on Julian Nagelsman's impact, and how his tactical flexibility could take RB to the next level.

Written Content

Twitter threads, Random stuff and any other business

  • Smarkets, the betting exchange launched their own sportsbook - names SBK recently. Check it out here. This isn't a paid shill, nothing of the sort. What they've done here is super interesting and unique. The sportsbook takes the odds that the exchange (order book) creates. Aka, the sportsbook is plastered on top of the exchange. In creating 2 different products, based off the same market - I think there's something in this product that can inspire FI in the way they'd approach order books, so that the layman and the professional are both pleased. 

Have a great couple weeks trading! Give us some feedback on twitter, email or other about the newsletter. Even if if you hate it, let us know :) 
No longer wish to hear from us? Click here to opt out.
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.