Emotional hedging

I have been a loyal Fulham supporter, man and boy, for the last 35 years. Nothing hits my emotional sweet spot more than being there when Fulham win. Watching them beat the blue filth 1-0 at Craven Cottage in March 2006, for the first time in 26 years was without doubt the most emotional experience of my life.

Quick clarification needed just in case her-indoors reads this one day: by emotional I mean the rip-roaring, adrenalin filled, mind blowing, excitement kind of emotion, not the beautiful, warm, dewy-eyed kind of emotion that has punctuated our marriage, especially when the girls were born. Love ya sweetie!

So when I tell people that I quite often bet against my beloved Fulham, they don’t get it. Many footy die-hards can’t get their heads around it and think I’m being totally disloyal. I don’t get this. Emotional hedging rocks, and here’s why.

If Fulham lose I am generally inconsolable for hours, maybe days. However, I have a nice chunk of cash in my Betfair account to soften the blow. If Fulham win, I treat the loss as my contribution to their victory. I kid you not! The amount I stake is always based on how much am I prepared to pay to see Fulham win the match. It is never based on how much I need to win to make me feel better – I could never afford to take that kind of risk!

The key to emotional hedging is to always bet with the head and not with the heart. Backing your team through blind faith and devotion is a mugs game. Look at the evidence and leave emotion out of the decision. This allows me to back Fulham to win – and it allows me to back them to lose (called a lay bet). If I’m at the match and I can feel the momentum going our way, I sometimes trade out of my original bet (thank God for Betfair Mobile!). Other times, if my head says Fulham will win before the match I’ll happily back them and let the bet ride if I’m not at the game.

Example – earlier this evening, Fulham played Wolfsburg away in the quarter finals of the Europa League. Betfair punters had Wolfsburg as clear favourites to win the match despite Fulham going into the game with a 2-1 advantage from the home leg. I use betfair punters as my benchmark as we all know that Betfair odds are better value and much more accurate than the bookies, right? I took a view that they were probably correct and my head was saying betting against Fulham to win the match was the correct bet. I decided my contribution to a Fulham victory would be £70.

At no stage during the match did I ever even consider anything other than a Fulham victory. We won, I’m off to Hamburg, I lost £70 and I am happy as Larry. If we’d lost, I’d have been miserable as sin, I wouldn’t be off to Hamburg and I’d have £90 sitting in my Betfair account. If I’m going to be miserable I’d rather be miserable with some extra wedge in my pocket.

£70 may seem a bit extreme to some people, but the truth is my emotional hedging strategy more than pays for my season ticket every year. Happy days!

New Brand Tribalism

I am a sucker for a good brand and follow many. Given the affinity I feel with many, what I find irrational is that despite a strong bond with a brand, it only takes one small act of poor customer service and the love affair is all over.

All except one. What is it about football clubs? They make so little effort to create and maintain a community – because they don’t need to. I have suffered brutally poor customer service over the last 34 years from Fulham FC but do my feelings diminish? Never!

For me it illustrates the absolute strength of authentic long term emotionally based relationships. Emotions are far more powerful for some of us than reason and logic, and the emotional commitment a football fan has generally creates a virtually unbreakable bond that most commercial brands would die for.

I’m going to return to this when I’ve had a bit more time to think about it. I’m thinking New Brand Tribalism…..