For the sake of balance…

My last blog post made my concerns about Football Index clear. However, I do respect those traders who disagree with me and I’m under no illusions that I’m 100% right on everything. Usually, the truth is somewhere in between. So, for the sake of balance, I thought I’d look at the flipside…

My journey on FI has been truly life-changing. Most obviously, because I’ve been able to make a significant amount of money doing something that I enjoy, with very little effort. So far, my FI earnings have paid for a new driveway and bathroom. If I cash out the rest, I’ve probably also covered a new roof and a decent holiday. I’m not aware of anything similar in terms of the potential to earn money, relative to the skill and time involved. It’s been incredible.

In a funny way though, the money I’ve earned isn’t the thing that I value the most. FI has allowed me to enjoy football in a way that I never did before. Rather than narrowly supporting a team, I now know the first 11 of the majority of teams across the 5 main leagues. I know the up and coming youth players, that none of my friends will of heard of, and I appreciate the small actions on the pitch as well as the headline moments. I see football through new eyes now and I think that’s something that will stay with me forever, regardless of where we go from here.

It’s also given me an outlet for the risk-taking side of my personality. Rather than spunking money up the wall at the bookies, I can put it on a random 20 year old on FI and have a longer-term high risk punt to enjoy. Indeed, one of the most important parts of FI’s USP is that it can be many things to many people. It can replace your ISA or it can replace your problem gambling habit. For me, it’s been a bit of both.

The community of FI is one of its greatest strengths. I know we don’t all see eye-to-eye (especially at the moment!) but I think we generally have respect for each other and it’s actually nowhere near as aggressive or polarised as some other communities I’ve been involved in. It’s also packed to the rafters with very, very clever people. I’ve tried to spend a lot more time listening to these people than talking – I know there’s plenty I can learn simply by doing that. And of course, there’s a huge amount of humour too, such as the fantastic parody video that did the rounds on social media yesterday (h/t @FootyIndexSpam):

FI as a company have made plenty of mistakes but the vision that Adam Cole showed in setting up the company has to be applauded. To take something from an idea to a ‘tier 1’ company in 5 years is impressive. They’ve had to take some huge risks along the way. When FI first launched, they didn’t have an instant sell offer at all. They recognised that this was holding back the growth of the platform so they backed that with they own money – that would have been a huge a risk. The fact that they had to pull that permanently as soon as COVID hit suggests to me that they were always operating very close to the edge of what they could afford. What they’ve done now is achieve sustainability – we have to acknowledge that as a positive, even if we are disappointed with the impact of some of those decisions on our portfolio.

And actually, a lot of their decision making has been very good. I can’t really pick a hole in their approach to dealing with COVID. They protected our portfolios and managed to stimulate the market at the same time, quite a feat given the fear spreading across the world. Their decision to implement IPDs was proven to be correct, despite many traders being very unhappy at the time, and I’m glad they’ve now made them permanent. I’m pleased that they aren’t messing around with the PB matrix this year and I think the TOTM idea is actually one of the best developments that I can remember. Perhaps we’ll feel the same about goalkeeper dividends in time too.

I’m nervous about the future, for all the reasons I’ve previously outlined, but I haven’t pressed the IS button yet. I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the last couple of days and I know that any further worry is just wasted energy at this point. FI will have heard what’s been said and they will have seen the market reaction. The next few weeks will be revealing but I expect that they’ll stick to the strategy that they outlined previously and focus on getting the sell offers implemented, rather than make any knee-jerk reactions to what they’ve seen.

So I’m going to sit tight. I can’t fully judge a half-finished product. I’ve got 35 players in my portfolio and no balance. Things will probably have to stay that way until FI settles down and then I’ll reassess. If I sold all my players via IS right now, I’d still be slightly in profit, despite taking a 15% hit overall. The fact I’m not selling, tells me that I must still trust in the product, even if that trust has been shaken lately.

None of this alters my thoughts on the changes to the underlying dynamics of the product. People can dress this up as ‘new opportunities to profit’ but we’re basically trusting FI to hold onto our cash and put it into something completely different to what it was in March. We aren’t playing the game we originally signed up for. But we do have a choice about whether we keep playing.

Unlike some, I’d never ask for the old version of FI to come back. Yes, I’d love it to be the way it was before but I’m not naive enough to think that was sustainable in the long term. Offering to buy out all of our bets was never going to last forever. They did it for as long as they reasonably could and eventually COVID forced their hand. It’s sad but it’s just the way it is. All good things must come to an end eventually and I’d rather the product survives, even if the margins are much reduced, than the whole thing goes bust and people lose their life savings. I’m a realist too.

So that’s where I am. Very grateful to FI for all they’ve given me over the last 3 years and still rooting for them to succeed. The next 3 months will be pivotal for FI and I really don’t want them to fuck it up. My confidence is shaken but I remain hopeful.

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