Exclusive: Football Index officer runs new website that trades player ‘shares’

On March 11, 2021, Football Index ceased operations.

Its collapse cost many of its users thousands of pounds and prompted a UK government review, which detailed multiple failures by UK regulators to keep an eye on the product and protect consumers, as well as the failures of the company itself.

On Football Index, users could buy and sell ‘stocks’ of actual footballers, just as someone might in shares of a company.

If the value of the footballer increased – for example, if he signed for a big club or scored a series of goals – his share price increased. But in addition to being dictated by the performance of players on the pitch, stock prices have also been affected by the vagaries of the market.

When it suddenly collapsed, it caused total chaos.

Seven days later, a new website appeared called AllStars Trader.

It offers users the opportunity to buy and sell virtual footballers to earn money.

Its sister website, AllStars Digital, offers the ability to “monetize human performance through real-time tradable products based on sports stars,” based on controversial cryptocurrency and non-fungible token (NFT) technology. ).

A LinkedIn post for AllStars Trader says “we consider your favorite footballers a tradable asset, there (sic) the value goes up and down based on their performance”.

As you can see in the image below, players have a buy and sell price, and you can track how these prices change over time.

Akash Gharu is the Chief Product Officer at AllStars Trader and the Chief Product Information and Operations Officer for Adrix, the company that provides data for the AllStars product.

Gharu previously worked as chief technical officer (CTO) of Index Labs, Football Index’s parent company, from July 2019 to December 2020, shortly before the company collapsed.

His LinkedIn profile described his role as follows: “Senior technology leadership for a pioneering brand, Football Index, in its 5th year of operation; move from start-up to hypergrowth (globally). Supported a very ambitious commercial strategy.

gharu said Athleticism“At no time have I been a director or shareholder. I left the company about 120 days as an employee before it went bankrupt. At no time did I have any influence on the board of directors or on its decision-making.

“AllStars Trader originally traded as Vita Markets. In March 2021 it was rebranded as AllStars Trader led by a new marketing manager. The launch therefore appears to coincide with the demise of Football Index. has no other correlation.

Gharu describes himself as a “critic” of Football Index’s business model and explains that his new ventures are a “completely different product” from Football Index stocks, which were technically “three-year bets”. Football Index has also been regulated as a gambling website by the UK Gambling Commission, while AllStars Trader is a ‘trading website’.

Rather than focusing its attention on the UK and Irish markets, AllStars Trader appears to be targeting Nigeria.

LinkedIn posts show the company is holding in-person events in several provincial towns, like the one pictured below, and is looking for recruits through social media channels Telegram and WhatsApp.

“We run physical education and training seminars in Lagos,” Gharu said. “Clients are welcomed into the office. We also do Zoom calls for new traders wanting to learn more about the trading experience.

What is AllStars Trader?

AllStars Trader offers virtual “shares” in footballers, which rise and fall based on performance on the pitch, and can be traded to earn real money. They are purchased through an online portal, like the one pictured below.

The prices of these players are based on indices created by Adrix. Operators of this system say it works in real time, “providing a true benchmark product that reacts to news, performance and future potential in the same way as traditional corporate stocks”, querying “millions of points of unique data” to create indices that “reflect human achievement.

However, AllStars Trader works on a contract for difference (CFD) model – a type of financial product that allows traders to profit (or lose) from a price movement without owning the underlying asset.

So if you buy when that asset is £1 and it rises to £1.50, you earn 50 pence. Crucially, you never own the underlying asset – like you would if you were buying stocks, for example.

gharu said Athleticism : “For Football Index, the user buys a bet slip for a market value that other market participants determine as the price. If he then wishes to end the bet, the user must accept the withdrawal value from the operator or wait for another participant to pay to take the bet on themselves.

“For AllStars Trader, the user enters into a CFD based on an underlying index that tracks the footballer’s performance. CFDs are traded as financial instruments around the world. If the user wants to end the position, it simply closes.

“So very quickly the similarities (with Football Index) end and the differences begin.”

A disclaimer on the AllStars Trader website acknowledges that there is a “high risk” of losing money. He adds: “CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money quickly due to lifting (sic). 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this supplier.

AllStars Trader is the trading name of Aqua Index LLC, a company based in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.

“With an AllStars Trader player index, you can buy, sell or own your favorite sportsman,” the website says.

An article by AllStars Trader on LinkedIn compares footballers’ CFDs to company stocks. This is a questionable analogy because shares of a company are tangible units of an entity that has documented employees, profits, and accounts.

“It’s no different from Apple,” the post reads. “If they perform well, their value goes up, if they underperform (sic), the value goes down.”

“The underlying asset is an index which is calculated using a BMR (regulation benchmark) index methodology found in many traditional products. We paired that with robust exchange technology and the whole product took about two years to build,” Gharu said.

“We’ve been successful in getting the product working with real customers and making sure the success rate is piling up. We recorded a payout ratio of 33%; it is a sustainable model. More importantly, we educate our clients on risk management and on preventing trading errors. »

What is AllStars Digital?

Alongside AllStars Trader, another financial product is offered under the same umbrella.

This one is called AllStars Digital. It claims to “monetize human performance through real-time tradable products based on sports stars”, and involves a new cryptocurrency token called AllStars Token, which has yet to be launched.

As noted below, the site says the token will offer “VIP access to AllStars trading products” and “access to sports NFTs, including metaverse activations.”

Football has deep ties to the world of cryptocurrency and NFTs (non-fungible tokens), with clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and Barcelona signing big sponsorship deals with companies in the industry.

This product appears to have many similarities to the main AllStars Trader, but with the added complexity of cryptocurrency trading, which is also subject to market price movements.

“There is a real chance of earning from your passion for your favorite sport,” the website states. “If you think you know the best performer, you can trade ahead of the game and see your (profits and losses) increase.

“Watch out for rising stars and trade them for a game, a season or for their career. Build your portfolio and share the countless debates with your friends and the community.

The Nigerian Connection

AllStars Trader apparently has little presence in the UK, Spain or Italy, the countries where the biggest football stars ply their trade. Crawl of social media reveals that the company is targeting Nigeria instead.

Social media images posted by the company and its staff show major in-person events in Nigeria promoting the company, many in provincial areas such as Ilorin, Oluyole and Ado Ekiti.

Davies Babalola, the company’s country manager, recently bragged about 350 people at an event in the town of Ilorin, photos of which were shared on the site as shown here:

One of the guest speakers is John Salako, a Nigerian-born former England international and Crystal Palace star, who is an ambassador for the company and regularly appears in social media promotions.

The “AllStars Trader Africa” ​​channel on social media app Telegram has more than 8,000 members, including sellers who offer their services on WhatsApp to encourage people to sign up.

Posts in the group by admins have few disclaimers warning of financial risk, as in the example below.

Many social media outlets have posted articles on the website using alarming rhetoric about making money, without including any of the warnings about potential losses that would be necessary in a highly regulated market like the UK.

The one below is from a man who describes himself as a “social media influencer”, although it is not stated if he was paid for the post.

AllStars Trader says there is a “primary risk warning” on its website footer and in several client documents and is committed to ensuring this is pinned on the site for greater visibility.

“We follow the regulations set in the regions we operate,” Gharu said. “We take compliance advice from qualified practitioners who have audited our processes.

“AllStars Trader does not establish laws or regulations in Nigeria, or any other jurisdiction, and it is up to the legislature of each jurisdiction in which we operate to regulate its own market. We will comply with all regulations.

Edwin S. Wolfe