Soccer Betting: Introduction

Two things that go hand-in-hand have changed the betting landscape forever over the past couple of decades: the digital revolution and the Betfair Exchange.

Soccer (we’re going to use soccer rather than football in these articles!) is now the most bet on sport in the world – by a distance – but that wasn’t always the case. Racing dominated the betting world until the decimalisation of odds came about with the invention of odds comparison sites and, more specifically, the Betfair site alone.

Two Keys To Betting

Until the dawning of the new millennium no one really backed singles in soccer, so the only time people would have a punt on football would be at the pools or maybe in accumulators of odds that might’ve been published in a newspaper the day before.

Betfair not only introduced (the much easier to work with) decimal form of odds but they also innovated by allowing you to bet in-running. This meant that odds became dynamic and you could bet on what you were watching at the time rather than what you’d watched in the past.

This combination of the two opened betting up to a huge new mass of people that loved soccer – including the gambling-crazy South East Asian part of the world who previously had to make do with Totes on Racing.

The market exploded in no time.

The Asian Handicap Influence

Asian Handicap betting is now the biggest market in the world. It’s not uncommon to be able to get $1 million down on a game without moving a market. Try doing that in a Country Maiden!

Over the past 10 years, soccer has been propelled even higher into the stratosphere by standing on the shoulders’ of a pair of giants in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Every competitive game they play in commands a global audience rarely shy of a billion people and many of those viewers love a punt. Eventually bettors will find their way to Betfair due to the Exchange having the lowest margins in the industry and, in turn, the liquidity grows and grows.

Grassroots Across The Globe

It’s not just the top level soccer that people bet on though. Betfair covers hundreds of leagues and within each game there are typically dozens of markets to get stuck into. For the bigger games all of the main subsidiary markets like Over / Under goals, Half-Time / Full-Time and Goal Scorer will be as liquid as any bettor needs.

When games begin the liquidity tends to remain – though the percentage of pre-match bets on soccer are larger on the Exchange than cricket or tennis – and bettors are protected by Betfair suspending markets when a goal is scored or a player is sent off. This assures in-play traders that they won’t get their fingers burnt by courtsiders. As a result, people are happy to leave money up which again creates liquidity.

Soccer is the only truly global sport. You can find matches to bet on every day of the year on The Exchange.

Market and Liquidity Formation

Time Distribution Of Bets Placed

The Time Distribution Of Bets Placed displays the key days betting occurs on the Premier League, and more specifically the key times within those days. With the time difference between Australia and the United Kingdom, matches typically occur overnight between 9pm-9am. As a result, the major peaks on the graph are evident Saturday night/Sunday morning and Sunday night/Monday morning. While fixturing often fluctuates, with Cup competitions and the dense Christmas/New Year schedule prompting midweek matches, a ‘normal’ Saturday has 6-7 matches and therefore betting is heavily focused after 8pm, as the feature match has a 9:30pm kickoff (11:30pm during daylight savings). The midweek element can be seen in the overnight slots on a Wednesday and Thursday in particular.

Time Distribution Of Volume

Time Distribution Of Volume shows the key days and times of EPL Market Liquidity and the total amount present in the Exchange during those sectors. The impact of time difference is again relevant and visible, with over $35 million coming through during matchday Saturday (Saturday night/Sunday morning Australian time). As a popular overseas product, Liquidity forms relatively early.


Volume By Weeks

Volume By Weeks shows each individual round of Premier League football and the total volume, both pre-play and in-play. The excitement of a new season causes the highest pre-play volume in Week 1 ($2.3 million), which more than doubles the next highest in Week 2. The significance of Christmas/New Year matches stands out, as in-play volume during this period far exceeds all other weeks and yields the biggest total volume throughout the season ($2.6 million). Notably, $490,000 was traded on December 26th, driven by Leicester v Everton and Southampton v Tottenham.

Volume By Market

Volume By Market illustrates the specific betting options Betfair punters are focusing on for Premier League matches. The two most popular markets are match odds ($15.3 million) and over/under goals ($13.3 million). Being a sport with a lower likelihood of scoring comparative to other sports, particularly football codes, may be a mitigating factor for the interest in over/under markets.

Volume By Team – Match Odds

Volume By Team – Match Odds shows the most popular Premier League teams in terms of volume. In the vast majority of EPL seasons, the pecking order remains predictable as Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham jockey for supremacy at the top of the table. This is reflected in the volume, with Manchester United a clear leader ($1.84 million) before a similar spread for the other five teams. The draw also produces a noteworthy result, with the second highest volume ($1.58 million) coming through the stalemate source.

Related Articles

EPL Products and Resources

Spanning nine months and 380 games, the English Premier League is one of the most popular sports leagues in ...

Poisson Distribution: How To Use It

Learn about Poisson Distribution on the Betfair Hub.

Soccer Betting: Risk of Ruin

A few weeks ago we received an email advertising a tipster with the title ‘Exploding the Myth: Making Money ...