Football in the U.K. is virtually synonymous with the Barclays Premier League. It is by far the most popular form of the sport to watch. The league is widely regarded as the best in the world, not only because of its top-quality matches but also for its exceptional entertainment value and the opportunities it presents to win huge sums.
Driving the fervor that surrounds Premier League betting are four dominant sides: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United. Challenging for a place on the podium are Tottenham and Man City. And adding to the attraction of the league is a bevy of international stars, such as Fernando Torres, Wayne Rooney, and Cesc Fabregas, among others.
Given such a central role in the lives of so many football fans, it seems incredible that the Premier League is still a relatively new organisation, having been establishing only as recently as 1992. It arose out of the darkest era in English football history—the 1980s—when old stadiums were deteriorating and hooliganism ruled the stands. Many fans died in the rioting. The Premier League represented a radical restructuring of the sport, commercially independent from the leagues of the Football Association.
New sponsorships and an exclusive broadcasting contract with Sky TV set the stage for the clubs of the Football League’s first division to exit en masse and form the new entity. It was a bold move that worked out beautifully. Barclays followed Carling and Barclaycard as the title sponsor of the so-called “Premiership,” paying over £20 million per season for the privilege. Increased revenue has translated into better facilities and more highly paid players, attracting some of the best athletes in the world to the league, such as Ruud Gullit, Arsene Wenger, and Gerrard Houllier, to name but a few.
Today the Premier League is made up of 20 top clubs. Relegation and promotion of clubs each year ensures that the highest quality competition is maintained. Manchester United have ruled the roost from the start, winning 11 titles in 18 years and never falling below third, ever. But each season there are plenty of opportunities to wager and win not only on the Red Devils to win it all again but on also on other markets unique to Premier League betting.
For example, in addition to wagers on the ultimate league champion, ante post betting includes taking stakes on what other teams will finish in the top four, with a lot of action focused on the presumed 4th place club. Forward-looking punters can take positions on who will be the top goalscorer during the season, what teams will be relegated, and even which coaches will be sacked, too.
Once the season begins in August, the heaviest betting is on individual matches. There is handicap betting and in running or live betting, as well as betting on draws at fixed odds. Wagers can be placed on which side will score first, too. Even the timing of the first goal is a subject for spread betting, by predicting whether it will occur before or after a given minute in the match.
U.K. bookmakers have been especially creative in giving the public more reasons to put money on their favourites, by offering special promotions. These range from offers of cash back on goalless draws to double odds on any scorer topping 30 goals during the season. One sportsbook is even a refund on all losing singles on the Premier League outright markets if Man City wins the title. And there’s an Irish sports betting web site that will refund the wager if the selected side is winning at half time but loses at full time, making it hard for any fan to resist putting a few quid down week after week.