Football Index marketed itself as a fantasy league stock exchange, where users were encouraged to turn their knowledge into cash. They bought ‘shares’ in players, expecting good performances that would lead to collecting ‘dividends’.
Some users invested thousands, and some made serious returns. Suddenly, last week, the company announced it was slashing these dividends via a statement on its website.
A few days later, Football Index entered administration in 2021 and had its gambling licences suspended following a number of issues arising out of policy changes and share-price crashes.
The platform itself has been suspended, meaning that traders’ funds cannot be withdrawn and there are concerns among the community that those funds could potentially be lost should the business collapse entirely.
As a result, several people have been left in financial ruin, some losing their entire life savings.
While Football Index is reported to have more than half a million registered users, only about 30,000 are thought to be regular traders, suggesting average losses of nearly £3,000 each.
“They sponsored QPR & Forest, they had ads all over TV; so I always assumed this was a safe place to put your money”
Gambling companies latch on to football to exploit our loyalty and trust, sanitising flawed brands like #FootballIndex in the process.https://t.co/NagsYqjTi7 https://t.co/XUYStVCLvs
— The Big Step (@the_bigstep) March 16, 2021
Launched in 2015, it soon became a fixture of the sports betting sector and was a sponsor of Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest football teams, which have removed branding.
Now, Football Index risks becoming the biggest failure in UK gambling history. Reports suggest punters stand to lose up to £100m. Law firm Leigh Day is investigating whether there are grounds to take legal action against the platform on behalf of affected punters.
James Grimes, an ex-gambler and founder of the The Big Step campaign group, said: “It comes as little surprise to many of us harmed by gambling that another company has failed to protect its customers from immeasurable harm.
“The immediate financial impact on the people caught up in this failure is devastating, but the damage to mental health and affected others is too much to contemplate, especially when gambling-related harm incurs such a high suicide risk.”
“Gibraltar Office” #footballindex ???? pic.twitter.com/Dq0FrM0xSy
— The Unfortunate Trader (@FIunfortunate) March 11, 2021
As it is a Jersey company, bosses will need to apply to Jersey’s Royal Court for an order to ask that the High Court of England & Wales takes jurisdiction in this matter.
That hearing is scheduled at the Jersey Royal Court on Thursday 18 March.
Now Leigh Day, which specialises in group legal actions, is asking ‘traders’ to register their interest in bringing a case against Football Index.
Today, Leigh Day alongside campaign group @cleanupgambling, have announced that they will investigate potential legal claims on behalf of individuals who invested in the football trading scheme Football Index which has entered administration.https://t.co/37NQKp0ior pic.twitter.com/KLsNvU6Os6
— Leigh Day (@LeighDay_Law) March 16, 2021
On their website, the solicitors’ state: “Leigh Day are investigating claims on behalf of Football Index ‘traders’, many of whom have lost large sums of money as a result of the company’s actions.
“Following the suspension of their betting licence, Football Index have suspended the platform leaving individuals unable to withdraw their money. An administrator has been appointed. We will be investigating whether Football Index was distorting the product they were offering to consumers.
“If you are a Football Index ‘trader’ and are interested in enforcing your legal rights in this complex area register your interest today. You might be entitled to bring a legal claim for recovery of the losses you have suffered.”
Football Index urges anyone who is concerned about their well-being, or the well-being of another user to access mental health resources.