Millions are staked every week on football betting coupons up and down the country. The bulk of this money will be placed on high profile, Premier League matches, but does better value lie in other markets?

Premier League versus Football League

Football punters looking for value will find the task much harder when comparing games in the Premier League to those in the lower divisions. Bookmakers have whole teams of traders and analysts working on their prices, and the majority of those resources will be focussed firmly on the high profile matches, that is after all, where the bookies are going to do most of their business.

A quick glance at Betfair will illustrate the point. An average Premier League game will see upwards of £1 Million matched – a lowly League 2 fixture may only just scrape over £10,000. That disparity will be just as stark when bookmakers are taking money in shops or online. Lower league fixtures do not generate anywhere near the same turnover as top flight games. Bookmakers then, will focus their time, money and effort in ensuring they have their prices spot on for those high profile clashes where they will be taking millions of pounds, and not necessarily spend quite as much elsewhere.

So punters betting on Premier League matches are going up against the full might of the mainstream bookies. A tough battle to win over the long term. But what of the Football League? Specifically League 1 and 2 – Can an edge be gained there?

The Football Coupon

Every betting shop throughout the land will have a football coupon available for the optimistic fun punters. Given names such as ‘Millionaire maker’ and such like, the lure of a huge accumulator win is massive – so these bets will always be promoted by the shrewd bookmakers. However, as this market drives the majority of bookmakers income on lesser games, lower league odds are skewed by the type of bet that these matches will be included on, i.e. accumulators.

If matches are going to be included in 6-folds, 7-folds and the like, it makes sense for bookmakers to protect themselves when pricing up favourites in the lower divisions. As soon as prices are altered due to a specific type of bet, value opportunities present themselves for eagle eyed football bettors, looking to profit from any mistakes in the match odds singles markets.

Bookmakers however are not necessarily concerned with win single punters who happen to have won on a big price underdog. They have cleaned up on all the coupons that have been busted by the favourites going down. Those odds-on chances in the lower league also help the bookies in another way. Punters filling the coupon see the 7/10 league leaders as ‘sure things’ and add them into their accumulator based purely on the price (a price which is already artificially short). Win-win for the bookmaker – they offer a small price, but those very odds lure in unsuspecting punters who see a guaranteed winner.

So if the oddsmakers are making only the minimum effort with their odds for lower league clashes, and then trimming any favourites for the sake of the coupon, there must be mistakes made and some value to be had? Absolutely.

Football Betting Value

Before rushing out to back every outsider in League 2, remember that while there are good value opportunities, solid research is still required. Bookmakers will tend to price matches purely on longer term trends. Lets face it, it has served them well over the years. It does mean however, that form sides, or sides going through an injury crisis, can present solid value bets or lays. Particularly in late winter and early spring, clubs can discover a rich vein of form which bookmakers will take a few weeks to catch up with, or similarly, teams at the top of divisions who have started to stutter will still be offered at small prices – until odds compilers realise that that injury to the star striker was actually extremely important to that team’s results.

So next time, do not dismiss Hartlepool v Colchester out of hand, spend some time getting to know the lower leagues, spot the form lines and get used to finding genuine value from the match odds markets. While less information is available for the lower divisions (and non-league) generally, there are still some solid sources and they definitely represent the best opportunity for long term profit betting on football.