Football betting is not all about the crash, bang and wallop of the in-play action and instant gratification from bets that payout straight away. Some punters prefer to make the most of the long term opportunity presented by the ante post markets. The various league betting markets are amongst the most popular of these and offer another great option when it comes to betting on football.
The bookies are always working to increase their market offering in this potentially lucrative area of football gambling. To help you keep a handle on what to look out for, we’ve set out the details of the most popular markets along with some more niche options worth considering in our league betting guide below.
Outright League Winner Market
Whatever the league, the Outright League Winner Market is the simplest and usually the most popular betting option available. Punters place bets on the team they believe is going to win the league and are paid out when the title is decided. Except, it’s not quite as simple as that.
To make the most of the swings in momentum throughout the season and the variation in prices available on the leading contenders, savvy punters will often dip in and out of the market. Perhaps the most popular time for league winner bets to be placed is before the season begins. Not only does the summer bring with it a lot of excitement for the campaign ahead, including the potentially pivotal transfer window, but it provides some great opportunities for punters with generous prices on offer.
The early stages of the season can bring some volatility to the outright betting markets. The biggest swings in the prices are often saved for the final couple of months though, providing there is a genuine title race between two or more teams.
The other complication for Outright League Winner betting is the availability of each way betting. The bookmakers will often differ from one another both in terms of the number of places they pay out on and the fraction of the odds they pay out on places so it is well worth shopping around.
Each way bets on who will win the league are usually only offered during the early part of the campaign. Pre-season and until the picture really starts to take shape, an each way bet will usually pay out on a top two finish. However, whilst most bookies stick to that parameter, there is less consistency when it comes to the fraction of the odds you will receive. Lots of top sites will pay out at 1/3 of the odds but equally many others will pay out at 1/4, which is quite a big difference.
To Finish In … Markets
Many of European football’s biggest leagues have only a small number of teams with a genuine chance of being crowned champions. That often makes the Winner Market a less than appealing proposition. In this scenario one of the best options is heading to the various To Finish In … markets.
The best bookies will have a selection of these markets subject to the individual league. Generally speaking, you’ll find the markets laid out as the To Finish In the Top Four, Top Six, Top Half and Bottom Half. That said, with the best bookies around competing ever harder against each other, you now find an even wider range of options on the biggest leagues, meaning you can back just about any outcome for a side if you shop around.
The increase in the number of teams competing for a place in the top four, top six, and so on is very welcome in leagues which are otherwise fairly noncompetitive. Additionally, there are always teams who surprise whether by over or under performing so there’s always plenty of betting value.
If you have been particularly impressed with a side’s summer transfer activity then picking an outsider or a newly promoted side for a top half finish can be a great bet. On the flip side of that, backing a team who are usually top eight material for a bottom half campaign can offer real value if you get in quickly, for example after the loss of a key player or even the manager.
Relegation Betting Market
The Relegation Betting Market is another hugely appealing option for many punters. There are always a large number of teams who could quite easily find themselves dragged into a relegation battle at the start of the season, so punters have a lot of choice and often some very good value to pick from.
Whilst teams will often find themselves cut adrift at the bottom of the table, it’s rare for all three of the shortest priced teams in the Relegation Market to be relegated. Relegation battles also often go right down to the last few weeks of the campaign where the odds can move significantly in either direction. These bets, therefore, regularly offer season-long entertainment for a small stake. Equally, more experienced punters can trade the markets as things hot up and the odds fluctuate in the final month or so of the season.
Like the League Winner Market, the transfer window can have a big impact on a team’s chances of avoiding the drop so this is a good time to enter the market. The other time it could pay to take a position is when a team changes their manager which is often the case with those fighting the drop.
As with just about all the markets we’re looking at here, during the closing part of the season the fixture list can also be crucial. When it comes to backing a side for the drop, knowing who they still have to play is vital. If a team has 35 points and looks all-but safe there could be real value to be had backing them to go down if their last five games are all really tough ones and it is perfectly conceivable they won’t collect any more points.
Note that within this realm of betting there are lots of alternative markets worth considering. Related betting options include the following:
- To Stay Up – rather than backing a side for the drop, why not have a little faith and back an outsider to stay up instead?
- To Finish Bottom – alternatively, if you really don’t rate a particular team, get longer odds than the relegation market by backing them to finish rock bottom.
- Bottom At Christmas – if you want a league bet but can’t wait until May, this is a good option.
- Relegation Tricast – predict all three teams to go down and you’ll get paid handsomely, whilst you can increase those tidy odds significantly by opting to predict the three in the correct order.
- Bottom in London/North West/Southern – rather than back the worst from the entire division, you can bet on who will be the worst team from a smaller number of regional rivals.
Promotion Betting Market
For every relegation there is a promotion and betting on which teams will win promotion from the lower leagues is not an opportunity to miss out on, be that in England, Scotland, Spain or just about anywhere else in the world. Unlike the League Winner market where there is only one winner, promotion markets almost always have multiple winners which, alongside the number of different playoff systems used in world football, ensures the market stays competitive right through the season.
The competition to win a place in the league above is always incredibly fierce. Places in the automatic promotion and playoff places will change hands pretty much every week so this can be quite a volatile market. That presents a great opportunity to snap some excellent betting value and/or to trade out of positions with the growth of cash out options available with the bookmakers.
Once again, there are various related markets, including to finish in the play-offs, to earn automatic promotion, to be promoted specifically through the play-offs, or the simplest of them all, just to go up (by any means).
Forecasts & Tricasts
The various Forecast and Tricast markets offered by the bookmakers are a great place to turn for punters looking to earn a little more by correctly predicting the outcome of a title race. Forecast markets mandate choosing which teams will finish first and second in a specific league. These differ from reverse forecasts in that you must correctly predict the order rather than simply which teams will occupy the top two places.
Tricast markets operate in the same way except you have to correctly predict the order of the top three in a given league. If you’re feeling confident these can yield some huge payouts but, of course, landing one of these bets is no easy task.
Top Local Club
Local rivalries are a big part of football and that’s not been missed by the bookmakers who, as well as relegation-related regional bets, also offer markets on the local bragging rights across a number of the biggest football leagues.
For British punters, the Premier League is the most popular one to bet on by some distance so markets such as Top London Club, Top Midlands Club and Top North West Club attract a large number of bets.
Team Finish Markets
If you have a particular feeling about a team heading into the start of a season, heading to the Team Finish Markets can be potentially lucrative. As the name suggests, in these markets you have to correctly predict which position a team will finish in come the end of the season. It’s a tough market to call given the amount that can happen during a season but the prices are usually tempting enough to get involved.
Season Match Bets
Season Match Bets give you the chance to predict which of two teams will finish higher up the league table at the end of the season. This is a great option to open up the league betting options for teams in the middle of the table. The mid table of many leagues is very tightly packed with teams switching places regularly. That makes these head to head markets great ones to keep an eye on throughout the season so as to pounce on some excellent betting value when the time is right.
Top Goalscorer Market
League betting does not always have to directly involve the teams competing. Many punters capitalise on their knowledge of individual players. The most popular market in that regard is the Top Goalscorer Market.
This market is sometimes called the Golden Boot winner or variations of that name subject to the individual competition, but it always involves betting on which player will score the most goals during a season. Betting on proven goalscorers in the league in question is a solid strategy but exciting transfers over the summer can have a big impact on Top Goalscorer betting. It’s also important to consider the team a player is playing for. The best strikers in the world would find it difficult to score enough goals to win this market in a team battling against relegation, although very occasionally a player from a struggling team might just offer odds big enough to make them decent value.
Each way betting can be a very good way to approach the Top Goalscorer Market, especially in leagues when there are a small handful of players with a genuine chance of winning the golden boot. This brings in the potential for a net win from outsiders who have an impressive goalscoring campaign.
Whether you are betting on the top scorer outright or each way, being aware of dead heat rules is also important. If two or more players score the same number of goals it is important to know how your bet will be settled. Ties for each way places are common but it should be remembered that in 2018-19 three players shared the top honour in the Premier League; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all ended the campaign on 22 goals. In that instance only one third of your bet would be settled (at full odds) as a winner, with two thirds of your stake lost, meaning even though you backed “the winner” you might actually lose money.
Bookies apply dead heat rules in the same way but another thing to look out for is what market you have actually backed. If you have bet on “Top Goalscorer” this will usually revert straight to dead heat rules. However, if the market is related to a particular award, the Golden Boot or Golden Ball that a league may offer its deadliest striker, then a secondary factor (such as assists) may be used to divide the players.