Football Index marks a new venture into the sports betting world. Rather than gamble on the short-lived outcome of a single match, users buy and trade shares in professional footballers using real money.
The platform acts as a microcosm of the stock market and allows causal fans and gamblers, as well as expert traders, to sell players at a profit. Fans buy units of soccer players, known as ‘Futures’, to build their portfolios.
Football Index aims to disrupt the traditional sports betting market, moving away from the linear, single outcome model used widely. Instead, a multifaceted and constantly shifting ecosystem with multiple possibilities is being proposed.
With ambassadors on board such as John Motson and Guillem Balagué, Sportspro spoke to Adam Cole, founder and chief executive of Football Index, about his company’s role in the sports betting market, sponsorship activations and what the future holds for the business.
Where does Football Index fall within the sports betting market?
Football Index is a disruptive platform that gives traders the opportunity to buy and sell shares in professional footballers with real money. When coming up with the concept, we felt traditional sports bettors were beginning to get bored with the number of traditional bookmakers and the constant bombardment of money-back specials and in-your-face advertising. Instead, operating with all the characteristics of a stock market, traders buy units of footballers, building their football player portfolios and trying to sell at a profit. Football Index therefore offers players an exciting alternative to traditional soccer and sport betting.
Who is a Football Index user?
We have seen a wide-range of users sign up to the site. Of course, we have high-rollers who treat it very much like they would the stock market, committing large amounts of money on players just as they would stocks and shares. However, we also have a lot of what we would call ‘weekend punters’.
These are the users who have grown tired of sports betting and prefer to try and put a bit of time, knowledge and money into predicting the future value of their chosen players. It is a genuine alternative to spending UK£10 a week on an accumulator which inevitably comes up short. We have already built up an ever-growing loyal following across the platform and on social.
How has the platform performed since its launch?
This season, more than UK£200million has been traded across the platform. That represents a 200 per cent increase on the 2017/18 season and a ten-fold boost on the UK£23.34m expected by the end of the 2018/19 season. All of these stats are reflected in the impressive growth of traders, with more than 300,000 now registered since Football Index begun.
What is the Football Index approach to partnerships and marketing?
We felt it was very important to target all types of football fans from a variety of locations. That’s why we invested so much money in sponsoring Bristol Rovers, as well as also engaging with Notts County. These sponsorships help us reach hundreds of thousands of people, with front-of-shirt sponsorship proudly on display for both teams home and away. It also helped us build credibility.
Also, it’s not just those sponsorships we have been a part of. We also engaged legendary commentator John Motson as a brand ambassador and his voice has helped us reach millions of people thanks to our television and radio campaigns. We are also proud to work with Spanish football expert Guillem Balagué on a regular basis, creating a wealth of video content with him for our channels as well as interviews with other news publications on behalf of Football Index. We also engage in sponsorship within the London newspaper City AM, which has an attractive daily readership.
In what ways is Football Index activating its Bristol Rovers sponsorship?
We’ve shared numerous messages through their social media channels this season and also held an evening with their captain Tom Lockyer and head of recruitment Tommy Widdrington. We used that evening to enable Rovers fans to hear from two influential figures at their club, while also raising awareness of exactly what Football Index is. We also sponsored their end of season awards, handing over the Player of the Year award to Ollie Clarke.
What kind of return has Football Index seen on that deal in terms of increased users?
Since July last year, we have seen an increase of 180 per cent year-on-year from users signing up from the Bristol area. Of course, people supporting opposition sides are sure to have signed up too having either travelled down to the Memorial Stadium or welcomed them to their stadium. That’s obviously tough to measure, but undoubtedly there will have been an impact.
Why only a one-month deal with Notts County?
Notts County made the decision to sell their front-of-shirt sponsorships monthly, meaning more businesses are able to get their brand seen. It’s a really great initiative and one we were happy to get involved with. It was also a great way to test out how successful such a partnership with the team could be without the need to commit to a whole season or even longer.
Will Football Index be looking towards more high-profile clubs in the future? Or even outside of football?
We are always assessing our options when it comes to marketing and sponsorships. We have really enjoyed being a part of both Bristol Rovers and Notts County and if the right opportunity comes along and the numbers work we will do all we can to take it.
What else makes up Football Index’s approach to digital content?
We regularly create video content with Guillem Balagué on various topics including transfers, upcoming games as well as managerial vacancies and candidates. Not only do these videos offer our users that extra bit of insight, but it also helps us hit mainstream media as publications regularly use our quotes.
How will the IGRG’s "whistle to whistle" ban effect the gambling industry?
We are firmly supportive of responsible gambling measures in the UK. While gambling adverts will still feature either side of games, firms will need to become less reliant on TV and explore other channels.