Betting on the Football League

Football League Betting 1

Everyone loves an Ante-Post football wager and there is usually better value to be had in the lower divisions than in the Premiership due to the amount of teams who come from supposed obscurity to take the title at big odds.

With betting on football going through the roof, it is now possible to bet on top divisional goalscorer, promotion and relegation as well as the popular, if hard to predict, handicap betting and seasonal match bets.

I believe match betting is where the true nuggets lie. Bookmakers used to impose a minimum-trebles stipulation on lower-league season-long matches but serious money can be made now there are no such restrictions.

Find a team you fancy to do well (or badly) and one layer or another will usually put them in with a side who are similarly priced on the outright market but whom you consider to be under or overrated. Bingo. No worries about another team coming along and messing up your bet. It's one of the few areas where bookies can sometimes be accused of taking their eye off the ball and it is always worth scanning through all the seasonal match bets for outstanding value.

The first piece of advice to anyone looking to have a punt on a team to win any of the Football League divisions is don't be scared to take on the teams at the top of the market. Every man and his dog knows there are only five teams who can possibly win the Premiership but things are much tighter the further down you go.

For instance, the 2003-04 league winners were Norwich (25-1), Plymouth (20-1) and Doncaster (33-1). Favourites in general in the lower leagues tend to represent bad value, particularly in what is now known as League One.

Just one favourite (Birmingham, who were 4-1, in 1994-95) in the 11 years between 1993-04 and 2003-04 managed to reward their backers, while a host of hotpots, including Manchester City (2-1), Cardiff (13-5) and Carlisle (10-1 shots who eventually finished 21st in 1995-96), flopped. It is a section littered with surprises and shooting for the stars is often the best policy with 50-1 and 66-1 pokes consistently making the frame.

Teams dropping down from the Premiership used to be able to bounce straight back up to the top flight but the financial crisis which has hit so many clubs means life away from the glamour and glitz is invariably a sad existence and it takes some time to recover. You must be wary of teams who have had to sell off their prized assets, particularly if they are a big-name outfit still being priced up on reputation.

In the 2003-04 season, West Ham, who were as short 8-13 to win back promotion and just 3-1 for the title, were never in the running for the championship and lost in the play-off final to Crystal Palace after a slow start caused mainly by the exodus of players from Upton Park. It will continue to happen to other teams and punters should be very wary of taking short prices about teams relegated from the Premiership.

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