FiveYards is a new online player trading and scouting platform. It’s largely aimed at people who think they can spot a diamond in the rough and want to evidence their scouting prowess. It piqued my interest when it launched fully at the end of November 2020 so I thought I’d dig a little deeper and see what it’s all about.
The backstory to FiveYards is a little tricky to unpick. Unlike Football Index and Footstock, it seems as though initial seed funding for the project has largely come from the founder tapping up friends for cash, rather than any sort of official crowdfunding. In a way, that doesn’t surprise me – this feels like something rooted in passion that is going to be built up gradually from the kitchen table. It doesn’t feel polished or ‘corporate’.
That arguably goes hand-in-hand with a lack of a completely coherent vision at this stage. FiveYards has two angles to it – trading players and scouting them. The first is one that sounds very familiar – 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 similarities to the ‘old’ Football Index are clear – but there are key differences too. On FiveYards, the player values are not affected by how many people buy into a player so you’re essentially playing this game on your own, against FiveYards, rather than against others. So why is Depay valued at £40m and Kimmich valued at £70m? Those values are based on what the FiveYards team think is a likely performance payout against them over the rest of their careers.
I need to backstep a little at this point. ‘Performance Pay’ is the FiveYards equivalent of dividends. We’re using fantasy money here – £1m on FiveYards is equivalent to £10 in real world currency (why they’ve gone down this road I’m not sure but others have speculated that it’s a possible work-around for some gambling laws, in the same way that Fifa Ultimate Team seems to side-step this).
The Performance Pay structure is blissfully simple compared to some other platforms. Your player gets paid if they:
- Start and their team wins
- Score a goal
- Assist a goal
How much they get paid depends on the competition, with the Champions League attracting the biggest payout of £650,000 per action. the Premier League next highest at £130,000 and the Championship at the bottom with just £30,000 per action.
For example, if a Wolves player started in a Premier League game, Wolves won and they scored a goal, they’d be paid £260,000 at the end of the game (£130,000 + £130,000). How much of that you get depends on how large the share is that you hold in the player – you can hold up to 100% in each player (which doesn’t stop other people holding shares in that player too).
So, to continue the example, if the Wolves player was Neto, currently valued at £45m, and you had a 20% stake in him, you’d receive £52,000 in Performance Pay – or 52p. Your initial stake in him would have cost £90, so that’s a yield of about 0.6% – far from spectacular but better than nothing if this is repeatable week in, week out.
You can sell your stake in a player at any time, providing it’s within the two weekly ‘transfer windows’ when trading is permitted (Tuesdays and Thursdays). FiveYards pledge to buy back at the current price, minus 5% commission (which feels quite high). No need to find a buyer from the community – we’re not in competition with each other on the trading side and they don’t want the platform to be plagued with liquidity issues. Phew.
So that’s trading covered. What about the scouting aspect?
My impression is that this is the bit that’s really driving the platform. The vision here seems to be to create a ‘game within a game’ – basically putting us in competition with each other to create a global scout leaderboard. This is primarily a game for bragging rights only, not cold hard cash.
Everyone using FiveYards is given a rating from 0-100. It’s not entirely clear how this is calculated but it is apparently based on the performance of your squad, and the popularity and accuracy of your scout reports (if you choose to write any). Anyone who reaches a rating of 80 or higher will be invited to join the ‘FiveYards Pro Scout Network’ – I’m not clear what this actually means or what it will look like.
Scout reports can be as long or short as you like. You can simply give players a current and potential rating from 1-100 and leave it at that, or you can write a complete overview if you want to really show that you know your stuff. Bear in mind that you can’t change or edit your reports once submitted – you’ll always be linked back to that initial judgement!
If you’re still with me at this point, well done. It’s a lot to take in as we’re effectively looking at two games in one, with very little overlap between the two. The scouting side will appeal to those who are already in the habit of writing scout reports and perhaps FiveYards have missed a trick here? I could see this being a platform for content creators to host all their scout reports in one place, potentially driving traffic to the FiveYards site, but currently you have to have a FiveYards account to login and view them.
One thing to bear in mind though – once you place your scout report on the site, is the content then ‘owned’ by FiveYards? The terms and conditions make it clear that they have full rights to use, copy, publish etc. I wonder about this, particularly as this would be the most obvious route for FiveYards to try to monetise this bit of the product for themselves – why else are they doing it?
I guess the other obvious answer to the ‘why’ is that we know it’s really difficult to grow a gambling platform across different territories because of differences in gambling legislation. The scouting side, and any competitions/games, that grow out of this could easily be a global proposition and would link in nicely with things like Sorare, FUT and Football Manager. Perhaps this is the real vision for the product and the trading aspect is just an attempt to jump-start things and bring users in from Football Index and other products.
The elephant in the room is whether the career-long bet model is even viable anymore. The sudden closure of the SportStack Careers app, apparently due to difficulties with the Gambling Commission and the FCA, should give pause for thought. I’ve no doubt that FiveYards will be in communication with the relevant people to make sure that their offer is sound but it would be good to see an update about this in due course. Until then, approach with caution.
A few other quick points to make while I’m here. Like most early platforms, there is no guarantee that customer cash will be protected if they go under. Deposits can be made via card, withdrawals come back via bank transfer (quickly and efficiently). There’s no app yet but the website works well, although is still very rough around the edges and not the cleanest design, particularly on desktop.
Wrapping up, I think this is an intriguing platform that offers something very different to the competitors in this increasingly crowded space and, for that reason alone, it’s worth keeping an eye on to see how it develops.