Roundtable: Bobby Longhurst Speaks to SBC About the Return of Premier League football

With the Premier League making a return, CCO Bobby Longhurst, shares his insight into how the ‘fanless’ aspect of ‘Project Restart’ will translate to betting behaviour

With matches taking place in empty stadiums and noisy crowds unable to impact the nature of games, do you think this will change betting behaviour at all? What have you learned so far from the return of the Bundesliga and other sports?

Betting behaviour isn’t a uniform thing, unfortunately. There are trends, of course, but the nuances within them is what we need to treat with caution. As a general rule, recreational bettors will just be happy to have live sport back and to bet on the teams and players they enjoy watching. They’re not looking for an edge per se. Those that take it a bit more seriously will be aware that the pre COVID-19 in-play models may not have been adjusted and will be looking to take advantage.

A case in point is the weight given to the home crowd. In football home sides normally win 46% of their matches, and yet this has significantly reduced to just 19% in Germany where matches are being played behind closed doors. In fairness, this number is only taken from a very small sample size of matches thus far, but it is fair to say that the pendulum appears to be swinging in favour of the away side. As a result, the playing field has levelled significantly and our traders have had to be on their toes, thoroughly analysing the effect on our end prices and adjusting our models accordingly for clients.

Are there particular betting types which may/may not be suited to this new environment? How important will in-play markets be?

The trend in Germany has been for fewer goals in games. In fact, the goal rate per match has dropped from 3.25 to 3.07 goals per game. We can’t say for certain that the change in atmosphere is completely responsible for this as a lot will be down to player fitness and sharpness in front of goal. What is interesting, and seems almost contradictory, is that despite a shortage of goals there have been significantly more big wins by three goals or more in the matches that have featured them. This doesn’t bode well for the correct score bettor, many of whom normally back score lines like 2-1 and 2-0. These have been reduced and scores like 5-2 and 4-1 are more commonplace for now. I don’t see a change in in-play per se. It has been a significant source of revenues in the past and I don’t see that altering. If anything, it may increase with fans watching at home rather than in-stadia.

With limited information available on player performance/fitness level, will this impact player prop betting activity?

Reduced information is never a good thing as it makes it more difficult to predict an outcome. Although this is true, player prop bets like Lewandoski to score anytime or Haaland to score first will remain a favourite pick for recreational players. Customers will continue to bet on player props, although pricing these markets up with less information on current fitness and team form is not without its difficulties. In some senses the situation is not dissimilar to an early season game, when form is less known, and traders can’t be sure how difficult a pre-season fitness regime some teams have been put through. Fitness has been a real issue in Germany thus far, with many players needing treatment for cramp since their return. Teams now have nine substitutes to pick from and of those they can now make five changes. With more games crammed together fatigue is more likely to play a part and the goals should start to go in again. That makes the player props bets an even more attractive proposition.

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