From the Trading Floor: What’s it like being a football trader?

Lots of sums, lots of football


Q: The best and worst thing about your current role as a trader?

A: The best and worse are very closely related. I consume a lot of football. A huge part of my role is to be up to date with all Premier League and La Liga matters. I either watch a game with a trader hat on or a fan hat on.

You never really get a break from watching football as it’s 24/7 – but at the same time I really enjoy watching football.

On my days off I rarely get to watch a game with my fan hat on these days. Same as everyone else, I grew up watching Match of the Day with the likes of Jimmy Hill or Alan Hansen. Instead of them teaching us about different formations and tactics they just came out with statements like “you’ll never win anything with kids”.

If they had maybe the UK and Ireland would have produced a load of Pep Guardiolas by now.

I really enjoy watching a lot of football coverage and analysis today though, even if it is with my work hat on. You never really switch off as a trader.

Q: Where do Money Back Specials come from and are you involved in the process?

A: The Commercial team make that call usually. It’s usually picked on the big game of the week. Customers want it to be relevant. We talk with the commercial team about what we think will be the best market to zoom in on. It might be that they want to use Mo Salah, for example, but he could be expected to be rested, so we’d advise not to use him and focus on someone else instead.

We as traders can give that insight before the call is made.

One thing I love being involved in is justice payouts. These are most effective when we react quickly with them. Most recently we did a 100k refund in the Chelsea-Man United game. Harry Maguire really should have seen red. He stayed on the field and then scored a crucial goal. If Maguire had gone off the game could have been a lot different.

So we did a justice refund on that which I think was fair to customers. We also did one in the Wolves-Leicester game recently when VAR ruled out a Willy Boly goal.

Q: How has VAR impacted on odds and markets?

A: VAR is something you take into consideration when pricing now. It is still hard to distinguish how much of an impact it might have. In the Champions League last season in particular, the way VAR was being used meant prices were shorter on penalty takers as there was a greater chance of a penalty being given.

You saw the one Man United got against PSG last season. A handball for a shot that was going a mile over the bar.

I don’t think those type of decisions should be given, but they are, and, from a trader’s point of view – and a punter experience point of view – managing VAR has been challenging.

For example, we like to be quick settling bets. When goals are overturned two or three minutes later after we’ve paid out, it’s tough. As a fan, I’m still on the fence about VAR. If nothing like the Thierry Henry handball will happen again it’s worth sticking with but I don’t think it has been used very well yet.

Q: Had you always wanted to be a football trader?

A: Well if you had seen my CV you probably wouldn’t have given me an interview.

I worked as a nurse for about ten years. Six of those years I spent working in intensive care. I’ve worked in the UK too. I did a Graduate Diploma and Masters in Nursing but after all that I decided I wanted to get out. The way the healthcare system was going I just didn’t want to work in it for the next twenty years.

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So I applied for a job in Paddy Power but I only got an interview because I had a friend that referred me. Once I got that it was all down to me.

The interview was based on three things: football knowledge, maths ability, and general personality. I watched a lot of football day in day out and played way too much Championship Manager as a kid, Match of Day every Saturday night, reading articles on my breaks from Nursing.

Ten years ago I was posting on social media that 97% of teams that get six points in their World Cup groups get through. So long before football trading, I was thinking like that. I had a bet on David Moyes being the next Man United boss after Fergie too.

That was probably the only good thing to come out of that appointment!

So my football knowledge came across clearly. Maths-wise, I did higher-level through school, and betting-wise I would have always found the value by comparing prices. I’d get more enjoyment out of spending twenty quid on a United match over like a trip to the cinema, for example.

My CV was then able to show them that I was a hard worker. The hardest part was getting in the door but I’ve worked hard since then to get to where I am today.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool manager

Q: What is your favourite thing about working in Paddy Power?

A: I’m delighted where I am. I’m here three years now. It’s a very good company to work for but like anywhere the people make it. Everyone is really helpful – even the Liverpool fans.

I’m a United supporter and I’ve come into the office with a picture of Jurgen Klopp stuck just above my desk before. You’d be tempted to go to HR but sure you have to let them enjoy it while they can.

Q: What advice would you give young people who want to get into the football trading business?

A: Well, firstly, people should know that Paddy Power is open-minded when it comes to filling a position. Candidates need good football knowledge, they need to have good maths skills and they need to be a hard worker. There are always opportunities becoming available to join our team. People who are keen just need to keep an eye out for opportunities on

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What do you think?