Saturday, March 31, 2007

Long odds on football's form to remain unchanged - Postern

Lord Mawhinney's suggestion that drawn Premier League games be settled with a penalty shoot-out has been met with immediate and near universal disapproval. A 'brainfart', says fan site; 'Why can't we just have a draw,' says Bournemouth boss Kevin Bond, not unreasonably.

That the sudden-death decider concept has been tried and failed in Major League Soccer suggests the idea is already dead in the water, that fans shouldn't be worried. It isn't, and they should be.

There is a very strong lobby that would support the creation of more set-plays in football. This multinational, billion dollar industry would be delighted to see football provide more drama, more decisive moments, more often. It is the sports betting industry.

It is an industry in sync with new media and has proved capable of accessing global markets. European sports betting revenues are expected to rise from $110m in 2004 to $3bn in 2009, according to a report by the UK's Juniper Research. The global value of sports betting is estimated to rise to $6.9billion by 2009, and this is without the world's two biggest markets, the US and China, officially endorsing gambling. "Should this situation change, then quite clearly the figures would be revised upwards to reflect this," concludes the report.

It is extremely likely this increasing wealth will lead to the bookies wanting a greater say in sports' decision making.

Now, betting on football is not the option available to punters - the UK's leading online bookies offer odds on sports as diverse as AFL, rallying, ice hockey and darts - but football is the world game. And it is ripe for intervention.

Unlike cricket, baseball or golf, football provides only a limited number of bet options. Recent reports from India claim Asian bookies are offering offer-by-offer bets: number of wides, runs scored, number of sixes. Football, a largely free flowing game, cannot match this innovation.

Bookies are trying to spice things up. Football betting has come a long way since the Pools Coupon. Digital pitch-side banners are now inviting punters to bet on the identity of the next scorer, with odds changing mid-game. The sports betting industry is itching to innovate.

As TV switches to digital, and more viewers become comfortable making online payments, it is inevitable we will see closer synergies between the broadcaster and the bookie. Sky, paying big bucks for the Premier League, and with no more than two teams ever in with a shout of winning, has plenty of second-rate product it needs to spice up. The sports betting industry may be only to keen to help enliven a mid-table clash between, say, Middlesbrough and Reading. Penalty shoot-outs, with the prospect of real-time betting - 'press the Red button to back Lampard to score at 11/4', is an enticing idea. 'It matters more when there's money on it,' as Sky's very own Sky Bet puts it.

Don't expect the bookies to start shouting their support for change, but only a mug would bet against them. The bookie always wins.


MotM said...

I am sure this prognosis is correct - depressingly so.

offside said...

Very interesting - and scary - stuff, Postern. Betting web sites sponsorship of football clubs has just been forbidden in France, on grounds of, well, potential conflict of interests and general murkiness.

Mind you, I have a feeling the French don't bet a tenth of what the British bet on football. Most of the betting in France is on horse racing. That's just a feeling, by the way, I don't have the stats.

greengrass said...

Good stuff, Postern!

I'll wager that Moores sold history to the Yanks in order to avoid a "potential conflict of interests".

(the only gee-gee worth putting your money on, at present drawing 4-4 in the Banning Stakes, healing a bruised
fetlock, up and running soon)

Zeph said...

Horse racing has always been a vehicle for betting and has always been full of what Offside neatly calls general murkiness. Now we're seeing the other sports catching up. Yep, depressing.

duncan said...

Great article. Thanks.

I think love of money actually is the root of all evil. Possibly.

bluedaddy said...

It is so obvious that Sky could easily manipulate the whole pitchside betting lark. They should be banned from offering odds, but even that wouldnt be clean enough, as a link with another bookie would be easy enough to rig up and keep hidden.
Imagine a Skybet ad going up offering say Vidic as next scorer and at the next corner, Vidic is the man the producer picks out ambling up the pitch, even though Rio is also going up too. The outcome might not be to Skybet's liking every time, but, in general, TV helping to steer the punters one way or t'other is a bookie's dream.

postern said...

exactly BD. advertisers (including bookies) can get their messages pitch-side almost instantaneously. the same technology also allows viewers/gamblers to call up previous game data - or broadcasters to manipulate the image. the potential revenue opportunities for bookies means they can't stay away for too much longer. Sky's involvement is frightening, but whether it's Paddy Power, Bet Fred or Sky, they all have an interest in turning watching-the-game into gambling-on-the game

Anonymous said...

Some good commets there regarding bet on football. Wish I won as much on my Cricket Betting Online

Anonymous said...

When betting on sporting events I always think those massive outsiders are worth a cheeky punt. For example man utd sticking six past Newcastle or Andy Murray going out that early on. When im browsing through some online sports betting websites i have a look at the specials and outsiders and see if i can see them happen. If so i may have a punt.
Normally ill have a bet on football because generally you can have an idea of a result or back a few outsiders and get some big odds!

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