Post last updated 19th July 2021
Note that this review previously included information about SportStack, Football Index and Footstock, all of which have since gone into administration with some users having taken very heavy losses. FiveYards has now also closed after a review by the Gambling Commission (with all users fully refunded).
Taking the above into account, I’m no longer updating this page and purely leaving it here as an archive. Aside from DFS and NFT platforms, I think the alt-gambling market is pretty much dead for now in the UK.
With very few football gambling/gaming products on the market now, this is a quick compare and contrast piece, seeing as I’m using all of them. FiveYards pitches itself as an alternative to the traditional bookies, FanTeam is a Daily Fantasy Sports site which is gaining a lot of traction in the UK. The other, Sorare, is slightly different but the general principles (and communities) overlap a great deal so it makes sense to include it here.
This is not a recommendation of where to put your money and it’s my opinion based on my own usage of the products so, as always, do your own research before you commit. I’m also going to try to keep this reasonably short and sweet, rather than an inside-out analysis of each product.
FIVEYARDS – trading and scouting for FOOTBALL fans
FiveYards (FY) is a very recent addition to the field, only going live in November 2020. This is another product built on passion, with the founder having a background in bookmaking and football through Squawka and 21st Club, a company who advise football clubs.
There are essentially two ways to play the game on FY – the paid route of trading players and the free route of scouting them. The trading route is very similar to the old version of Football Index – spot a player that you think is good, invest your cash in him, get paid when he performs and cash out when you like (hopefully at a profit). The scouting part of the platform is really just a chance to demonstrate what you know about players and get ranked against other ‘scouts’ on the platform.
FY is still very new and is entirely web-based at the moment. The site is a little clunky on desktop, better on mobile. Deposits and withdrawals are smooth and pain-free. The most complex part of the platform is learning the in-game currency (£1m on FY is equivalent to £10 in real world currency) but everything else is pretty straightforward.
Player values are not affected by how many people buy into a player so if you go down the trading route you are basically playing against FY, rather than against others. Player values are based on what the FY team think they are likely to pay out in Performance Pay against them over the rest of their careers and can change before each ‘transfer window’ (Tuesdays and Fridays). You can sell your stake in a player at any time during a transfer window and FY pledge to buy back at the current price, minus 5% commission. It should be noted that commission is relatively high compared to other platforms, making this more of a long term game rather than suitable for quick flips.
The Performance Pay structure is very simple. Your player gets paid if they: start and their team wins, score a goal or assist a goal. Payouts vary depending on the competition the player is playing in and the percentage held (you can buy up to 100% of the value of each player) but are pretty low on the whole, reinforcing this as a longer-term betting proposition. Performance payouts are almost instant and are signified by the arrival of an email in your inbox, which is a nice touch, but the simplicity of the pay out structure means there’s no ‘live action’ to follow so it doesn’t have the excitement of some of the other platforms.
The scouting aspect of FY is the game within the game – a scouting leaderboard, where people’s scouting reports are graded and the performance of the players go towards pushing people up or down the leaderboard. Scout reports can be as long or short as you like. You do not need to deposit any cash to access this side of the site and, although a bit basic, it’s a really good way of keeping notes on players you have an interest in, particularly given the depth of the FY’s player database, which is increasing all the time. Around 50% of the users of FY are accessing the scouting side only at this point.
FY is a very new proposition but has begun to build partnerships with others on social media, including a recent link up with Scouted Football. It’s clear that betting is only part of this platform and there’s no reason that the scouting side couldn’t grow significantly over time, including the potential to build in real-life scouting opportunities with clubs. One to watch.
FanTeam – a fast growing DFS Site
If you’ve played FPL, the basic principles of FanTeam will be really familiar to you. The difference here is you’re playing for cash, not just for pride. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) sites are growing in popularity right now and FanTeam appears to be the fastest growing in the UK – picking up a lot of the users that were part of the former FootStock and Football Index communities.
The platform started life as WooFbet back in 2013 and rebranded as FanTeam in August 2015. The company is part of the Scout Gaming Group, based in Norway. Unlike the other platforms I’m reviewing here, FanTeam has moved beyond the start-up phase and is an established company at this stage.
The basic premise is simple – DFS games are paid-entry games that require you to build a team, usually within some sort of salary or other restrictions, and compete against other users to score the most points. The player score based on their performance on the pitch and the higher the overall team score, the larger the rewards. These rewards are based upon a prize pool made up of the entry fees, with FanTeam taking a small rake. Prizes can range from a few pounds up to £100,000 in their season-long game which has a £1 million total prize pool.
EPL football is the main draw to the site but FanTeam covers various different sports and leagues, including cricket, hockey and basketball. As well as the standard tournaments, there are Draft’n’go tournaments with a head-to-head format or entry cap, and the option to create private leagues to play against friends. FanTeam also offers ‘Player Matchups’ where you have to pick the highest scoring player from a number of head-to-head match ups to win a prize. This is the only time you play against the house, rather than against other users.
The game structure is simple and easy to pick up if you’ve previously played FPL, although there are some notable differences to the scoring, such as the defence stacking penalty and the impact points. Some elements of the game are different too – like the pursuit mode and safety net features. These give the game some additional tactical elements that you don’t find on other sites.
The site itself is a little hard to navigate and, although there is an app, it’s still in Beta mode and not available on Android yet. Deposits and withdrawals and smooth and fast but the £5 minimum fee on withdrawals is punishing and seems unnecessary. The team is very active and engaged with users on social media. The game itself is easy to dip in and out of, and the buy-ins are at a good level for all budgets.
As with other DFS games, FanTeam is fun for a dabble but hard to be truly successful at. There’s a learning curve to get the most from it and doing research is key. However, if you’re already doing that sort of research for other platforms, including FPL, why not try to monetise that by having a go at FanTeam too? All you ever have at risk is the money on the table at the time, making it a ‘safer’ bet and much more suitable for smaller wallets.
SORARE – GLOBAL FANTASY FOOTBALL MEETS BLOCKCHAIN
Sorare is a slightly different beast to the previously mentioned platforms but is well worth a look. Not classed (or regulated) as a gambling platform, this is a global fantasy football game where you can buy, trade and play with official digital player cards.
Sorare is a French company and has some big backers. Developed in 2018, they’ve got the backing of Ubisoft and Andre Schurrle, as well as several million dollars in seed-funding. The basic premise seems to be to create the Panini sticker experience of the 21st century – using Blockchain instead of physical cards.
Unlike the blind process of opening a sticker pack, cards come up for auction on the site so you can choose exactly who you want to buy. Auctions run throughout the day and night, with card supply strictly limited across different tiers – Rare, Super Rare and Unique. You can also buy cards directly from other managers (users) for a premium.
Sorare has to obtain official licenses for players before issuing cards and started out with the Belgium league, the J League and MLS so expect to see players that you might not be familiar with at first. The platform is expanding rapidly and now has over 100 licensed clubs, including big-hitters like Juventus, Bayern Munich, PSG and Real Madrid, adding to the mainstream appeal (and bringing new managers on board directly as clubs promote Sorare to their own fanbase).
There are two ways to make money on Sorare – you can flip cards for profit on the secondary market or you can enter them into 5-a-side tournaments, called SO5, that give you a shot of winning more cards or some crypto rewards. These run twice a week and across various different levels and leagues so there’s plenty to keep you interested. The scoring matrix is fairly straightforward and recent changes have been aimed at simplifying the scoring.
As the cards are minted on the Blockchain, they can be used on other platforms too. Currently you can use your cards, and compete for prizes, on SorareData, SorareMega and in the Ubisoft One Shot League, as well as on Sorare itself. This is a big selling point for the platform and helps to underpin the value of the cards.
The platform currency is Ethereum (ETH), a crypto currency. This helps to make Sorare a truly global game but does bring it’s own challenges in getting set up and past the first hurdle of depositing money into the platform. Sorare recently made this easier for managers by allowing transactions in a user’s native currency, through a partnership with Ramp. Withdrawals still need to involve a crypto-wallet at this stage, although that’s likely to change in the coming months.
Prices have boomed on Sorare recently, alongside a huge rise in ETH, making this an expensive platform to get started out on. Most Rare cards can be picked up for less than 0.1 ETH (around £120 at the time of writing) but some go for much more than this. Stepping up to the Super Rare and Unique categories requires a bit of a bankroll, with a typical Super Rare setting you back 0.7 ETH (£850) and perhaps 5 ETH (£6,000) for a Unique. These prices can be off putting for new users and Sorare will need to give some thought to how to stop people being priced out of the game. It’s likely that a new scarcity level will be introduced soon, which should help to bridge this gap.
Sorare has been on a steep growth curve since the spring of 2020, and recently added Gerard Piqué to its list of backers, but is still a very young product with just under 16,000 active managers on the platform. With more clubs due to be added in the coming months, I think 2021 could be a huge year for Sorare so there’s probably no better time to be involved than now.
But which one is right for you?
There’s no reason why traders can’t enjoy all four platforms but this is where I think their various strengths lie:
- FiveYards – likely to appeal if you’re into scouting and/or don’t want too much of a time/financial commitment. It’s easy to jump into this from Football Index as the market side of things will be familiar and the player database is pretty deep but it doesn’t have the same excitement as some of the other platforms that have since folded – it’s a much slower burn so really one to keep an eye on on the longer term. Use my sign up link and get a stake in an up and coming youngster once you join the platform.
- FanTeam – the best choice if you want to start small and not expose yourself to too much risk. Great for FPL players as you’ll already feel comfortable with the rules and basic premise of the site. Use my sign up link and get a free entry ticket to Premier League tournament (worth €20) after you deposit €20.
- Sorare – if you enjoy collecting football stickers or playing fantasy football, and you can get your head around the crypto side of things, this could be the game for you. It doesn’t demand a lot of time and is really enjoyable but be prepared to start off with at least £1,000 if you really want to get stuck into it. Use my sign up link to start with 12 free Common cards and get a free Rare card once you’ve bought your first five players from auction.
That’s my take at the moment. If you’ve got any questions about any of the above, give me a shout. Likewise, if you disagree with anything I’ve written, get in touch and tell me! There’s a friendly community surrounding each platform (with a fair bit of overlap as you might expect), including active Slack and Discord channels – a pretty good place to go for more advice if you’re just starting out.