Non League Football Betting 1
A 3-1 winner in a Conference game pays exactly the same as a 3-1 winner in the World Cup final and there is money to be made for those who take the time to acquaint themselves with life below the top four divisions.
In many ways, punters have a larger edge over the oddsmakers at non-league level because, while a smaller proportion of the betting public will take an interest in the outcome of, say, Morecambe against Canvey Island, in the same way, your bookmaker will have far fewer staff with enough knowledge of the subject to set prices on the contest as accurately as they would if Manchester United were playing Arsenal.
Some firms put their trust in just one compiler to generate prices for the week's non-league programme and if you can be selective and research well, there is every chance you will have put more thought into a fixture than the person setting the prices. That is a recipe for success.
ANTE-POST BETTING The typical Conference winner is a team who finished in contention the season before. From 1998-99 to 2003-04, four of the six champions (Cheltenham, Rushden, Yeovil and Chester) had finished second, third or fourth in the previous campaign.
To identify a likely winner, try to find clubs on a sound financial footing, preferably well-supported (as salary-cap restrictions mean teams cannot overspend on wages if they do not have the income) and with a well-regarded manager.
Sides relegated from the Football League are inevitably among the favourites to bounce straight back but only Shrewsbury in the last five seasons have managed to regain their status at the first attempt. And even that was via the play-offs after they finished third. The previous four relegated sides - Scarborough, Chester, Barnet and Halifax - finished fourth, eighth, fifth and eighth in their first year.
In lower divisions, teams have a better chance of making faster improvement, but none of the champions of the Conference's three feeder leagues in 2002-03 or 2003-04 (Conference North and South began in 2004-05) finished lower than eighth the season before they won the title.
Keep an eye on the outright markets in-running. Hucknall were unconsidered 33-1 shots at the start of the Unibond League campaign in 2003-04. By the end of September they were top of the table and it was becoming clear that with a number of experienced League players in their line-up they were no flash in the pan. Yet the Nottinghamshire side were still on offer at 9-1. They won the league by nine points.