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How to Bet on Football

Football accounts for approximately half of all online betting by turnover and considerably more by number of bets. In the traditional off-course betting countries, most notably Great Britain, for many years horse racing was the staple diet for betting office regulars.

With the onset of the internet and more sports orientated bookmakers football has taken over as the most popular betting sport. This trend has been furthered by the amount of football that is now televised live. Dedicated sports channels show matches from numerous leagues and rarely is there an evening when in-play betting on football is not available.

A glance at Betfair shows that it is now possible to bet on football from almost forty countries. Some online sportsbooks include odds for even more countries. Within each country several leagues are available for betting. For some countries it is possible to bet on the 9th level of domestic football.

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The English Premier League is the most watched league in the world on television and that is reflected in the amount of betting turnover on English football matches. For several years ago now bookmakers have been allowed to advertise on commercial television in Britain. The leading operators advertise their latest prices during the commercial breaks.

The next most popular betting leagues are those in mainland Europe. The main leagues in Spain, Germany, Italy and France are not as popular for betting as the English Premier league but they still account for a decent proportion of turnover. The Champions League is a significant midweek football betting attracltion. Every four summers there is a massive injection of business when the World Cup takes place with all the games shown live on television all over the world.

Most Popular Markets

The most basic bet on a football match is the 1X2 which is a bet on either a home win, draw or away win. Not much more than 20 years ago singles betting was restricted to Cup ties, internationals and any match televised live.

Most bettors like to bet on something to happen rather than not happen. This is why bets on goals in a match are very popular, though the odds reflect this trend. In the exchange model any bet on more than a certain number of goals to be scored requires a counter bet on this not to happen.

Football more than any other sport is characterised by tribal support for a team. Supporters like to bet on their teams to win or a certain player to score a goal, either as the first goalscorer or to score at any time. Correct score betting also generates plenty of interest, in addition to a combination of the correct score and the player to score the first goal which is known as a Scorecast.

Football Free Bets

When registering for a new online sports betting account with any bookmaker on the Internet, you’ll qualify for football free bets. The terms and conditions attached to these offers vary greatly from fairly simple and uncomplicated to complex. Through the pages you will find independent bookmaker reviews highlighting these terms and conditions, so that there are no hidden surprises when registering for your new account.

Best Football Betting Markets

Bettors have more of an edge in several football betting markets. The percentage profit margins still work in favour of the bookmakers but the low margin bets with a small number of possible outcomes are the ones that punters should focus on if they would like to win at betting on football.

Match Singles

There are only three possible outcomes, a win for the home side, a draw and a win for the away side. Across all leagues about 28% of matches end in draws and this is reflected in the price for the draw. This option is the least popular of the three as gamblers prefer to bet on a decisive result rather than a stalemate though there are higher odds.

Asian Handicap

Asian Handicap prices are set so there is an even probability of two outcomes happening. In effect a handicap is a head start for an underdog. If a match is not evenly matched and there is a short priced favourite Asian Handicaps are designed to attract two-way business.

Handicaps are expressed in terms of goals or parts of goals. For example, the Asian Handicap for a match that involves a strongly fancied team would be expressed as Team -1.5. If the Team wins by two clear goals this is a winning trade. If the Team wins by one clear goal, draws or loses the match this is a losing trade.

Both Teams to Score

When two sides who regularly both score and concede face each other, a bet on both teams to score is one that can be considered. Obviously not a bet to make when a team has a good defensive record or there is a team struggling to score goals.

Home and away scoring records should also be considered. There is a direct relationship between how many times both teams score and the number of times that happens for respective home and away teams. Bookmakers can refer to these statistics but they seem to underestimate the chances of both teams scoring in a match.

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Worst Football Betting Markets

Clearly the bets with the higher theoretical profit margins are the ones to be avoided. However, these more exotic betting markets offer bigger payouts and the odds seem very attractive. They offer substantial returns for a modest outlay.

Season Accumulators

A popular bet at the start of each season is an accumulator on the winners on the four leagues in England, in addition to the Scottish leagues and European ones. Even the odds for singles seem attractive but when accumulated this bet can be hard to resist. Each-way terms mean that if four teams are placed the return is significant.

Match Accumulators

Bookmakers can offer their own accumulators for clients to place bets on. This could be for teams that all kick off at the same time, for example 3pm on a Saturday. However, one team not winning will mean your bet goes down.

First Goalscorer

This is a bet with a high profit margin and one that bookmakers love to take. There are so many different factors in determining the first goalscorer in a match. Obviously a team’s main striker will be the favourite but the number of set plays a team has in a game is a significant factor. Defenders are more likely to score from corners and free kicks than from open play. Then there are the players who are the regular penalty takers for their side.

Correct Score

This is another bet in which statistics and past scoring records are pretty much of little value when considering the correct score in a football match. It is difficult to predict if a team with a comfortable lead will push on to score more goals or drop their intensity enough to concede.


This bet is a combination of the first goalscorer and correct score bets. The Scorecast combines two difficult bets to get right which means the variables are compounded. Due to the related contingency elements of the bet it offers poor value despite the seemingly attractive odds.

Price Factors

Football coupons are printed up to five days before matches take place. This puts a bookmaker at a disadvantage if significant events occur in the days leading up to the match. Shop and internet prices can be adjusted if there are significant team developments. Certain teams play much weakened teams in the FA Cup, Europa League and EFL Cup.

It does seem to be the case that after a change of management a team plays above their general level in the next match. However, a manager is generally sacked after a poor run of performances and it might just take a slight improvement or increase in confidence to achieve a decent result.

Recent current form is still the most important factor in determining the outcome of a football march. A team's results over a spell of six games are weighted heavily when odds compilers set the odds. This means the outsiders chances may be underestimated as their form over a longer period of time is more relevant than the favourites’ results over the same span of matches.

In-Play Betting

This is still an ongoing massive growth area in online football betting. There appears to be no limit to what can be bet on during a match. The most bizarre must be whether the woodwork will be struck but just about every facet of a game can now be bet on during the match.

The emergence of Betfair has helped in the growth of this type of betting. The exchange model lends itself to in-running betting. Markets are suspended after significant events such as a goal, sending-off or penalty. Prices are updated and are available up to the very end of matches.

Match Statistics

There is now a huge amount of data available on the internet that can be used when betting on football. Games from the major leagues are comprehensively analysed and statistics are updated almost immediately after a match finishes. Statistics used most extensively are those referred to when betting on corners, goals and bookings.

  • Corners -There are several key factors in determining the potential number of corners in a football match. It is possible to bet on bands of corners and over or under a certain number. The average number of corners in the English Premier League is just below eleven. High corner counts are associated with teams that attack with width. Defensive tactics influence the number of corners a team concedes. When teams chose to clear their lines percentage defending results in more corners being conceded. The size of the pitch and weather can also influence the corner count.
  • Bookings - Towards the end of each football season there is an increase in the number of matches that don’t mean anything to either side. For example after March in England the Premier League brings together sides that cannot qualify for Europe or be relegated. Towards the end of the season the average number of bookings and red cards falls significantly.
  • Goals - It is possible to determine the potential number of goals in a football match by adding the average number of goals scored by the home team in home matches in the current season to date to the same figure for the away team in away matches. Dividing the total of these two figures by two gives a combined average for any particular match.

Significant Scoring Trends

A couple of very good websites for scoring statistics are and There is a remarkable consistency over the number of goals scored across many countries and leagues. There are marginally fewer goals scored in internationals.

The most significant low scoring leagues are the main leagues in Switzerland, Russia and Singapore. The second level leagues in France and Italy have lower averages than the average across all matches.

The main leagues in England, Spain, Italy and Germany do not vary significantly from the average in terms of the number of goals scored in matches. The Scandinavian leagues produce significantly more than the average number of goals and the main leagues in Holland and Belgium are relatively high-scoring.

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