Commercial content | Bet responsibly |18+ age limit | T&Cs apply |

How To Bet On Football

There are more nations in FIFA than the United Nations because football is truly a global sport. The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world and over 200 nations are involved in qualifying and trying to win one of the 32 places at the finals. The English Premier League and Champions League are huge for football betting and matches are watched on television all around the world. Football is the most popular betting sport in the world and here are some of the leading bookmakers for football betting.

Best Football Bookmakers


Unibet is now a massive global betting brand based in Stoke in the north Midlands of England and is involved in how to bet on football. The owners also own Stoke City Football Club and Unibet are the shirt sponsors and funded the building of a modern stadium. Unibet offer all new customers £200 in matched bets, though three times the initial deposit and bonus must be bet before it is possible to withdraw funds. Football is one sport that can be bet on to use up the staking requirement but bets have to be settled before they count. With thousands of football matches for betting with Unibet the turnover target can soon be reached. Football is a 12 month sport so there are matches throughout the year. The regular seasons in Europe run from May to August but when there is a tournament the season extends into July. Qualifiers for the following season’s Champions league and Europa League begin in that month so there is no break in how to bet on football.

Unibet also offer a free in-play bet of up to £50 on major matches in the English Premier League, Champions League and important internationals. The company promote their products on mainstream commercial television in the UK and in the mainstream and specialist gaming Press. These matches are televised and feature domestic teams and British teams in Europe and major football tournaments. The free bet is promoted in the betting Press and Unibet customers are reminded with an email. The free in-play bet is a no-deposit free bet and is based on funds in the accounts of existing customers. Matched betting on betting exchanges means that money can be made whatever the outcome of the selected matches. Unibet  are aware that bettors are making free money but the offer maintains their profile and probably pays for itself many times over and is part of how to bet on football.

bet at Unibet

The Unibet free in-play bet is subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • Existing customers are eligible
  • Applies to one specific match and how to bet on football
  • Qualifying bet for up to £50 placed before the relevant match begins
  • Free in-play bet granted for the same amount as the original bet
  • Free bet must be used on an in-play market during the selected match
  • No turnover requirements or odds restrictions

Unibet also offers event specific concessions on football betting matches including Penalty Payback and Bore Draw Money Back. Customers who place a bet on the outright market in a major tournament will get their money back if the backed team is knocked out on penalties. If any specified match finishes 0-0 all bets placed before the match will be returned for the first, last and anytime goalscorer, half-time/full time result, correct score and scorecast markets. Fully cashed out bets do not count but the uncashed out elements of any bet are valid.

During the domestic season Unibet offers a Euro Soccer Bonus. Existing customers can earn a bonus of up to 100% on multiple bets in the main European leagues and all stages of the Champions League. The offer is valid for accumulators placed before each match begins on the match result and outcome and goals from each side markets. The qualifying competitions are the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga and Champions League. Cashed out bets do not count and the bonus is based on the amount of bet still standing. The maximum bonus is £100,000 but double chance or bets that carry bonuses will not count.  The bonus graduates from 5% for a treble to 100% for 14-folds and upwards. The valid bonus is adjusted if matches are postponed and single bets would be void. There is a similar promotion for tennis multiple bets which offers a graded bonus up to 100%

The Unibet product was reviewed during Euro 2016 and just before the semi-final match between Wales and Portugal. This match was the biggest involving a British side since England played Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 96 at the old Wembley Stadium where England won the World Cup in 1966. Wales had never reached the last four of a major tournament and Unibet offered a large range of markets before and during the fixture. One day before the match Unibet listed 132 markets related to the full time result under the following headings: Main, Asian lines, cards, corners, goals, half, player, specials and 10 minutes. Before the match customers could bet on the result, number of goals, corners and cards in the first 10 minutes and later portions of ten minutes once the match had begun.

Unibet live streams many football betting matches from around the world. During in-play coverage the site records key events and displays a graphic which indicates the position of the ball. After a key event the match is suspended for betting for a few minutes while odds are updated. Customers are offered a Cash Out amount during each match. The offer is based on the original odds, current odds and stake unit. Cash out with traditional bookmakers is a relatively new service. Some operators have taken the concept further by allowing customers to change the teams backed in an accumulator once the bet is active. Betting exchanges have made the industry more competitive and innovative and more product developments are expected.

Customers who place a bet on a mobile device for all sports including football will receive an On The Move Bonus using Bonus Code. A qualifying bet of at least £1 is required on a mobile device and this will be fully matched to 100% and up to a maximum of £50. Bets must be settled and not include those cashed out. One selection must contain an option at 1/2 (1.50) or bigger and the qualifying bet and bonus must be staked three times before a withdrawal can be made and within the first 90 days after entering a Bonus Code. Other promotions include best odds for British and Irish racing. In summary Unibet offers a good range of concessions for football bettors and customers who place wagers on other sports.

Bet with Unibet bonus code


Ladbrokes was once known as the biggest bookmaker in the world because of the number of betting offices they ran in the United Kingdom. They have fallen behind some online brands and their digital product has suffered by comparison in the past. A potential merger with Coral is being reviewed in light of competition concerns and Ladbrokes may have to agree to offload some betting offices before the deal can be ratified. The company are still one of the biggest online football bookmakers in the industry and are involved in how to bet on football. Ladbrokes have been involved in football sponsorship and their television adverts in the UK feature some well known ex-footballers who now work in the media. Ladbrokes is a familiar brand trusted by football bettors and those who enjoy football betting.

New customers who know how to bet on football can take advantage of a free bet of up to £50 when opening an account and making a deposit using Bonus Code MAXSPORT . The free bet is not sport specific but can be used on football markets at odds of 1/2 or bigger. The offer applies to new online and mobile Ladbrokes customers. Ladbrokes also offer cash out facilities on sports bets including those related to football and guaranteed best odds for horse racing and greyhound racing. They also offer daily price boosts on sports including football. Ladbrokes suffered in their outright markets when Leicester City won the Premier League in England in the 2015-16 season. However, they probably won a great deal more on the weekly coupons as Leicester wins caused many accumulators to lose. Ladbrokes and the whole industry will look on the outcome positively and many supporters will back their team to now win the Premier League.

ladbrokes football

In addition to the new deposit free bet and price boosts Ladbrokes also offers money back concessions for specific football matches for customers who know how to bet on football. The current offer at the time of writing was money back if the semi-final match at Euro 2016 between Portugal and Wales ended in a draw. Stakes were to be refunded in the form of a free bet on losing correct score, first scorer and half-time/full-time bets up to a maximum stake of £25. There had been a number of refunds on selected matches earlier in the tournament. Customers must claim their free bet within the first full day of an account being credited. Over the course of the tournament the money back offer was introduced for all matches involving England, Wales, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Football is the first sport on the main menu on the Ladbrokes Home Page. Clicking this option takes readers to various categories of football fixtures such as current matches and future matches. Football betting markets are also divided into today’s football, tomorrow’s football and future football. Matches can be displayed by time and date and competition. Ladbrokes offers odds on about 20 football leagues from around the world. An empty betting slip is displayed on the football page above the various sports betting related promotions. The most popular casino games and slots also have banners and links from the football page.

At the time of writing Wales were due to play Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 which is a huge fixture for British football and the UK betting industry especially as England had been eliminated by Iceland in the round of the last 16. Ladbrokes listed 128 markets for this match related to their match betting. The odds were arranged in different sections namely popular markets, corners, cards, half markets, handicap markets, player markets and team specials. The match was due to be covered live by Ladbrokes with updated odds and live streaming. In-play bettors can place wagers on at least 18 markets including match betting, handicaps and totals.

Bet with Ladbrokes promo code MAXSPORT

William Hill

William Hill has been identified as the most trusted brand in the UK betting industry. The company has licensed betting offices in many towns and cities and a digital arm which uses the recognised branding. Free bets and reliability are two of the main reasons for new players to open an account but William Hill gets new customers on the strength of its reputation. New customers are eligible for a £25 bonus using Bonus Code MAXSPORT . Another offer gives new customers £20 in the form of free bets and is subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • Initial stake of £10 on first bet
  • Bet must be placed at single or multiple odds of 1/2 (1.50)
  • For each way bets only the win element counts
  • The total stake must be £20 if there is a place element
  • The free bet will be credited after the qualifying bet has been placed
  • Free bets must be used on sports including football
  • The free bet expires after 30 days.


William Hill also offers enhanced odds for some markets in key football fixtures for customers who enjoy the challenge of how to bet on football. Bets can be cashed in during a match or after some legs of an accumulator. A goal in a football match for the backed team will move the odds in favour of the customer who made the bet. Cash In My Bet allows customers to take advantage of a favourable move in the odds after a goal has been scored. William Hill also offers best odds guaranteed on greyhounds and horse racing. William Hill has a social media profile on Twitter and Facebook and William Hill In-Play Radio provides exclusive betting updates, previews of important football matches and predictions and punditry. The company have established some partnerships with British football clubs and competitions.

Bet with William Hill promotional code MAXSPORT


Matchbook is a betting exchange that allows its customers to back and lay options in several sports including football and in a different way of how to bet on football. The company has entered a market dominated by Betfair. It is struggling to produce liquidity that attracts bet placers and takers which means many bets are unmatched or only partially matched. New customers to Matchbook receive a £50 Welcome Bonus using Bonus Code MAXBONUS . The lowest commission rates in the industry have had little effect on turnover and the level of liquidity in the exchange compared to that in Betfair’s markets. Matchbook does not offer anything unique in terms of the sports and markets on their exchange.

Customers new to Matchbook receive a £30 sports bonus that can be used for backing and laying in football matches and other sports in the product range. Wagers must be at 2.5 or less in the back markets and at 1.67 or greater in the lay market. Bets must be for £15 on both sides of the exchange and if both lose customers will get their stakes returned in the form of free bets. Matchbook does not offer other ongoing promotions but applies low commission rates to attract new customers and keep existing ones.


Matchbook offers a very limited range of football markets with limited liquidity. Without money in any markets customers will find it hard to get bets matched so the exchange does not work properly. Exchange betting is peer-to-peer betting in that the operator brings together backers and layers at a mutually agreeable price. The world’s leading exchange takes more bets on football than any other sport and football must be the main focus of traditional and exchange bookmakers like Matchbook.

Even for the biggest fixtures Matchbook only offers match odds, total goals, both teams to score, correct score, half time/full time and to qualify while Betfair typically offers over 150 markets for a major football match, each with a decent level of liquidity. Commission rates are lower with Matchbook but their prices are uncompetitive and not an accurate measure of how the market is reacting to injuries, team news and weight of money. Football is one sport in which Matchbook could compete but the service is limited and there is very little liquidity in many markets.

Bet with Matchbook Bonus Code MAXBONUS


sportingbet was founded in 1998 so is a relatively new entrant to the UK bookmaking industry. The company is owned by GVC Holdings who have other major interests in the sector such as bwin and PartyGaming. New customers can earn a £50 welcome bonus using the Bonus Code MAXBONUS . The offer is open to all new customers in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Existing customers are not eligible for this bonus.

New account holders with sportingbet are entitled to a three part £50 deposit bonus which is subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • Players must make an initial deposit of £10 or more to receive the first matched bonus
  • The second bonus is equal to the average stake of the first five bets
  • The third bonus is equal to the average stake of the first ten bets
  • Qualifying bets must be placed at odds of 1/2 (1.50)
  • The total £50 bonus must be claimed within 14 days of opening an account
  • Bonus money must be staked three times at odds of 1/2 (1.50) before bonus funds can be taken from an account


The bonus is granted within a strict policy of one bonus per customer and there are measures in place to prevent abuse of this welcome offer. sportingbet reserves the right to void any bonus if they feel identify fraud has taken place and any one customers has received the bonus more than once. Multiple accounts belonging to one person will cause voiding of the bonus and only one account will be credited. Due to the potential for fraud customers who make deposits using Moneybookers, Ukash, Neteller or Paypal will not be eligible for this welcome bonus.
Due to the number of qualifying bets and the odds and staking requirement sportingbet’s welcome bonus is by no means the best offered by online bookmakers with a UK background.

sportingbet offers other promotions such as a cash out facility, tennis acca insurance and football acca insurance. Existing customers who place a football multiple bet with five selections or more will have stakes refunded up to a maximum of £25 in the form of a free bet if one selection does not win. This offer applies to bets placed before the start of the matches and during in-play coverage. All selection must be priced at 1/2 1.50) or bigger and the minimum qualifying stake is £5. Every option in the bet must be settled on the same day and cashed out bets do not count. Acca insurance free bets do not offer adequate compensation for a big football combo being almost correct and this offer is unlikely to be a big incentive to place multiple bets with sportingbet.

Football is the first option in the main menu on the sportingbet Home Page and is the first choice in a horizontal list of betting sports. The football main page displays the highlights of the day, upcoming in-play matches and coupons in order of popularity. English football attracts the most bets and sportingbet bet offers odds for the four top leagues and Cup competitions. The company offers about 130 markets related to the match result for major matches. Markets are organised in the following categories: all markets, full time, halves, total goals, player, corners and cards, 5, 10 and 15 minute markets and specials. One unique market is for the man of the match in major international and European fixtures when a man of the match is officially announced.

Bet with Sportingbet promotional code MAXBONUS

Football Scoring System

The scoring system in football is simple in that the team that scores the most goals wins a match. In knockout matches extra time of 30 minutes is played if scores are level after 90 minutes. If scores are still level at the end of extra time a penalty shootout will determine which team proceeds to the next round. Initially five penalties are taken by each team and if they still cannot be split more penalties are taken in sudden death format. If every member of a team has taken a penalty and scores are still level players may take a second penalty but only players on the field of play at the end of extra time can take part in the penalty shootout. The goalkeeper must have been on the pitch at the end of extra time and substitutions are not allowed after the match has ended. Penalties are taken alternatively and a toss determines at which end of the ground they take place.

League standings in a table are based on points won. Three points are awarded for winning a match, one point if a match is drawn and the losing team does not receive any points. Standings in the case of tied points are determined by goal difference and then goals scored. In tournaments when everything else is equal each team’s disciplinary record is used to separate the two teams and the best behaved will progress to the knockout stages of a tournament. Expanding tournaments so that third placed teams can qualify has led to more examples of points not being enough to separate teams in a group or league table. For example at Euro 2016 there was a long list of ways of separating teams with identical records and fair play could have been used if scoring records were not sufficient.

FIFA Rankings

FIFA maintain world rankings but these are not a good guide for predicting upcoming matches. Their weighting makes the rankings more subjective than they should be if the are to be a true measure of form and ability. During 2016 Belgium were second in the rankings without winning the World Cup or European Championship finals. During Euro 2016 there were many examples of the lower ranked team winning a match or progressing to the next stage of the tournament. Wales were at number 24 before the finals and beat Belgium in the knockout rounds while England lost to Iceland despite being 25 places ahead of them in the FIFA standings.  The rankings can be useful but should not be taken at face value for betting decisions. It is possible to graph a countries’ position over time and doing this will indicate whether the latest ranking is compatible with previous ones and thus if it can be trusted.


Football is a sport that lends itself to statistics because the scoring system involves basic numbers and it is easy to monitor and record related events. Beyond the fundamental objective of scoring goals other events can be recorded quickly. The most popular score in a football match is one goal followed by no goals. Across a wide range of competitions and tournaments the average number of goals is about 2.5. Roughly half of games see both teams score and generally there are more goals in the second half than the first. Roughly a typical match produce about four bookings and there is a sending off on average in one out of six matches. The team who have a greater share of possession will create more chances and score most goals.

There is a relationship between possession and corners and the outcome of matches and the team that passes best will win more matches than lose matches. There are many resources online that record results and the number of key events by team. Statistics can be a valuable tool in making betting decisions but they are not the full story. Motivation, injuries and playing conditions can also determine the outcome of a football match but statistics can help in deciding which outcomes to back. Tipping services that only rely on statistics will rarely produce profits over time as the odds on offer reflect the probability of something happening which statistics express. The key to winning money betting on football is the interpretation of the bare numbers and putting them in the context of all the other price factors. There are many non-quantifiable factors that influence the outcome of a football match.


Main Events

Football matches are played over 90 minutes and extra time of 30 minutes if required. There are 12 basic rules that apply to all forms of the game which are organised into domestic, continental and international competitions as described below:


Every football playing nation has domestic league in which teams play on a home and away basis. Playing at home is an advantage as more home teams than away teams win fixtures. Points are awarded and then the number of points won by each team determines league positions. Standings are based on goal difference and goals scored when teams are level on points. Most nations have a promotion and relegation system. Teams at the bottom of a league move down one level and are replaced by teams at the top of the next league down. Playoffs can also be used to settle some promotion issues and these take place after the regular season.

The most watched and bet on leagues are the main ones in Europe such as the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and Germany Bundesliga. The most famous Cup competition in the world is the English FA Cup the semi-finals and final of which are played at Wembley Stadium where England won the World Cup in 1966. Other European leagues have Cup competitions but none are prestigious as the FA Cup in England which regularly produces giant killings when a team beats opponents from a higher league in the pyramid. The League Cup is a secondary competition in England which only involves league teams.


The EUFA Champions League is the biggest continental competition in the world. It brings together the best teams in Europe who qualify through their league position in the previous season. The Champions League has a qualifying stage, group stage and knockout rounds played on a home and away basis. The final of the Champions League is played on a neutral ground which is usually one of the most prestigious stadiums in Europe. Every Champions League match can be viewed but not on a free-to-view channels but with subscription based broadcasters. Television money means clubs can pay the highest wages and attract the best players in the world. However, being successful in continental tournaments does not translate to nations doing well in the World Cup and European Championship finals.

The Europa League is very much the poor relation of the Champions League in Europe. Teams that finished further down the league and miss out on qualifying for the premier European competition qualify for the Europa League. Teams that finish third of four teams in Champions League groups transfer to the Europa League which carries much less kudos and prize money. The onerous format of the Europa League makes playing in it unattractive to the bigger teams in Europe who prefer to focus on their domestic league and entry into next season’s Champions League. There are similar continental tournaments in South America but the Champions League is the biggest in the world and features the best players.


The biggest and most important international tournament in the game is the soccer World Cup. The finals are played every four years and involve 32 qualifiers from regional qualifying. The teams are split into eight groups of four teams who play each other on a round robin basis. The top two teams from each group progress to the round of the last 16. The tournament then has an elimination format culminating in the World Cup Final which is usually played at the national stadium of the host country. A match to decide third and fourth place is played the day before the final. However, this is the most meaningless and least needed match in the sport because it brings together the two World Cup losing semi-finalists.

The World Cup is a huge football betting event. All matches are shown live on mainstream television and kick-offs are designed to suit the Northern Europe market. It is possible to bet on the winner of the World Cup soon after the final of the previous one. The most popular markets are the outright winner, top scorer and player of the tournament. Odds are updated after each match during the finals and prices fluctuate based on the comparative form of the leading contenders. We can expect plenty of free bets and promotions related to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Broadcast times have yet to be confirmed but Moscow is two hours ahead of GMT but one hour ahead of CET. The 2022 World Cup is being played in Qatar which has the same time differences.

The football calendar also includes continental international tournaments such the European Championships, Copa America and the Africa Cup of Nations. These tournaments are scheduled so not to clash with the World Cup. They are generally 16 team finals but Euro 2016 featured 24 teams which meant six groups of four teams and an extra round in the knockout stages. Tournaments are suited to a 16 or 32 team format and anything else changes the dynamics. At Euro 2016 two thirds of the matches were required to eliminate one third of the teams. The four best third placed teams qualified for the next round and that led to negative football as draws were enough to get out of the groups so there was less of a premium on wins. There have been suggestions that the World Cup could be extended to 40 teams but that would also affect the dynamics negatively.


The number of markets related to a football match is only limited by the imagination of the odds compilers. It is possible to bet on every facet of the sport when there is a definite quantifiable outcome. Bookmakers will not offer odds on anything ambiguous but there is still plenty of scope for a huge range of football betting markets some of which are described below, the good and the bad.

Best Football Betting Markets

Match Singles

For many years there were restrictions placed on betting in singles on football matches. Customers could back three away teams in a treble and the minimum number of teams in an accumulator including a home team was five. Singles were only allowed on matches shown live on television. Bookmakers always prefer multiple bets as they have more chances of the bet losing which means betting in the three way match result market for a football match is a good bet.

Asian Handicap

Asian handicaps are so named because they were invented in Asia and are the most accurate representation of a team’s chances of winning a football match. A handicap is designed to attract two-way money when there is a significant favourite and underdog. Asian handicaps refine the concept by offering quarter and half goal lines with stakes split between being returned and staked. Huge sums are bet on Asian handicaps for matches in the English Premier League and odds are highly responsive.

Both Teams to Score

Both teams generally score in about 58% of matches in the English Premier League which translates into odds of 8/11 or 1.72 in decimal format. The last five fixtures are the best guide to assessing the likelihood of both teams scoring in a match. Home and away records refine the research and some informative trends can be found and used to make betting decisions in the both teams to score market. However, betting on a team to win and both teams to score involves too many variables.

Under/Over Total

The total goals odds are usually expressed for under or over a specified number or in three bands. Punters have a better chance of landing a winning bet in a two-way rather than a three-way market. When there are only two options in a bet bookmakers apply a lower % margin per possible outcome. Taking the under/over option is an either/or binary bet which is always better for the gambler than markets with three or more potential results. Comprehensive statistics can be used to identify betting opportunities in the total goals market.

Season Accumulator

This is a multiple bet involving teams to win the four main leagues in England but could be extended to include the Scottish leagues and other leagues around the world. This acca provides the potential for a life-changing win from a small stake. The selected teams can be backed win or each way and the place terms are usually one quarter the odds, first four places. Outright markets for each league are updated after each set of matches and the odds can move in favour or against the original prediction. Leicester won the Premier League in England in 2015-2016 at odds of 5,000/1 which would provide a massive boost to a four team season long acca. Ahead of each new season there is plenty of analysis of each team’s prospects and the most likely winners are identified.

Worst Football Betting Markets

Match Accumulators

Some bookmakers offer acca insurance which means stakes are returned for one losing selection in a multiple of five teams re more. Predicting the outcome of one close match can be tough but getting five right is a difficult task. Doubles, trebles and four folds are popular but big money can be won for accumulators involving at least five selections. Bookmakers like this type of bet as they have several chances to get the bet beat and therefore not have to pay any winnings. The acca insurance only makes the bet marginally easier and only the stake is returned but not the stake multiplied by the ongoing odds.

The most popular league for football match accumulators is the English Premier League. Statistically about 30% of fixtures are drawn but customers prefer to include a team to win in their accas. The draw is always under backed but finding one to put in an acca is virtually impossible. The temptation is to pick five home bankers in a multiple bet but one result often lets the bet down but at least with acca insurance stakes will be returned. Five always would be lucrative as the following illustrates when each way team is 3/1 (4.0) to win their match:

£10 5 team acca = (4.0 x 4.0 x 4.0 x 4.0 x 4.0 -1 x £10) = £10,230.00

Having the stake returned for one loser is scant consolation for missing out on winnings of over £10K. Accas are bad bets despite the potential for a life changing win for a relatively small stake. The strike rate on singles will obviously be much higher and betting in singles is a good strategy to gradually build a bank and continue to bet. Football matches often produce shock results and with a multi-team acca there are more chances for the bet to wrong so three teams should be the maximum in any acca.

First Goalscorer

The first scorer in a match is subject to too many vagaries and variables to make this nothing other than a poor football betting market. Bookmakers use statistics to frame their prices but profit margins make winning over time almost impossible. The strikers are always shortest in this market because they score most goals but there could be injury concerns or poor scoring records against the opposition. Strikers are more likely to score in open play but set pieces open up this market. Defenders will move into the penalty area when their team has a corner kick or free kick in the attacking third. At any one time 20 players could score the first goal in a match and bookmaker’s margins make the first scorer market one of the worst in football betting. Own goals do not count but some bookmakers include own goals in their odds for the first scorer. Customers can also bet on the last scorer in a match and the odds equate to the first scorer market.

Correct Score

Correct score betting is fraught with danger but on first glance the odds on offer are attractive. However, in compiling a book bookmakers write in a big margin which does not seem apparent due to the seemingly generous odds. The correct score in a football match is subject to too many variables to make it a good bet. Bettors are basically guessing and even statistics do not provide a reliable guide. When a team have a match won they can drop a level and concede a consolation goal. A 3-0 correct score winner can suddenly become a 3-1 loser if there is a late goal. Some teams may continue to attack and convert a 3-0 lead at half time into a 6-0 victory. Scoring additional goals improves goal difference but a convincing win only earns the same number of points as from a hard fought close victory. A team with a clear advantage in the scoring may relax with the job done and that can make predicting the correct score of a match a tough call. Late goals have a habit of messing up bets that looked like winning. Goalless draws are rarely backed but about one in 10 matches have no goals.


If the first scorer and correct score bets are not recommended a scorecast bet is even less likely to be profitable over a sustained period of time. This bet combines the first scorer and correct score elements in a combination bet. However, bets are not settled at the combined odds of both things to happen because they are related. If a player scores the first goal his team are much more likely to win the match and produce correct scores in their favour. Odds are reduced to accommodate this scenario but the adjustment is too big. Scorecast odds do not reflect probabilities but customers like the bets because the odds seem generous when in fact they are the opposite. Team loyalty means many bettors will back a winning score for their team combined with a favourite player scoring the first goal. If there are no goals in a match score cast bets are lost and on average goalless matches account for 10% of Premier League fixtures.

Half Time/Full Time

When there is a big favourite in a football match the temptation is to get better odds by backing them to be leading at half-time and the end of the match. An early goal for the underdog spoils many bets and a draw at half time also makes bets losers. The better teams may take the first half to impose their dominance which means they could win the match from behind or tied scores at half time. A team could take an early lead into the break and concede a late equaliser to prevent the double result. The most popular score in a football match is one and more goals are scored in the second half. These features of football make the half time/full time bet difficult to win.

Football In-Play Betting

Most football bets are now placed on mobile devices in the live environment. A younger and new breed of  bettor prefer to trade matches in-running rather than place pre-match bets and let them run to expiry. Football in-play betting has been one of the massive growth areas in the betting industry over the last decade. Before 2000 there were only limited opportunities to place football bets during matches. The advent of the betting exchange Betfair created a demand for in-play betting with traditional bookmakers. In the modern era a massive number of soccer matches are streamed live on bookmaker websites and customers can place live bets on many markets. Just about every aspect of a football match can be bet on up until the final minutes.

A relatively new development is the cash out option which allows bettors to close a bet before expiry and the result is known. Cashing out a bet mirrors laying on an exchange to counter a back bet but at advantageous odds. Exchange bettors can also place a bet at odds bigger than at which the outcome was originally layed. An icon shows whether cash out is available. The bookmaker makes an offer to the customer with a cash out figure which reflects the original odds and stake and current odds. In-play matches are ideally suited to cashing out bets and odds fluctuations determine how much is won or lost in response to a cash out offer.

Summary of Football Betting

Here are some guidelines for betting on football:

How to bet on football

  1. All sportsbooks include football in their sports betting product range
  2. Full range of countries, leagues and markets
  3. Cash out option to guarantee a profit
  4. Over 100 markets related to the three way match result
  5. Free football bets designed to attract new customers and keep existing ones

When to bet on football

  1. Bets can be placed on upcoming fixtures in pre-match markets
  2. In-play betting on man aspects of a football match
  3. Outright winner odds updated after each round of fixtures
  4. Odds now available for the 2018 World Cup
  5. Sportsbooks provide 24/7 football betting

 Where to bet on football

  1. Licensed betting offices in the United Kingdom
  2. Online betting is legal in Europe but US players are not allowed
  3. Numerous sportsbooks in different languages accepting many currencies
  4. Online gaming legal in Australia and parts of Asia
  5. Football bets taken online, in shops, at stadia and on racetracks


Leading Teams for Betting

Below are the two best teams for betting in the major European leagues. These teams often play in the Champions League or Europa League and are amongst the most famous clubs in the world with a huge global following. The teams listed are often covered on live television and television money allows them to develop high class facilities and be in the market for the best players by paying decent wages. Home matches involving these clubs are well attended and gate receipts form part of the business plan but are not the biggest income stream which is TV money or merchandising.



Manchester United is arguably the biggest football in the world and the team have won more Premier Leagues than any other team in England. Their success in the recent era owes a great deal to the managerial ability of Sir Alex Ferguson. He retired in 2013 and after unsuccessful years under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal Jose Mourinho was appointed the manager in time for the 2016-17 season.

Liverpool have won the European Cup or Champions League five times which is a record for an English club. They recruited Jurgen Klopp as their new manager part way through the 2015-16 season and he took the side to the final of the Europa League buy they were beaten by Sevilla. Liverpool have not won the title in England since the 1990-91 season but they have the infrastructure to contend again.



Real Madrid are the most successful club in the history of European football having won the European Cup or Champions League 11 times. They have the wealth to pay high wages and the prestige of the club attracts the best players. Ahead of the 2016-17 La Liga season their squad includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale who are two of the best players in the world.

Barcelona represent the area Cataluña area of Spain that would like independence from the rest of the country. Camp Nou is the biggest club ground in Europe with a capacity of about 100,000 most of which are season ticket holders. In Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luiz Suarez they have the best forward line in world football and are regular winners of the Spanish league and are Champions League contenders.



PSG are the major force in French football thanks to huge overseas investment. They have dominated the domestic league over the last few years but have underachieved in the Champions League. PSG have won the championship in France six times in total but four years in succession from the 2012-13 season. Winning the title has become easy and the next stage of the plan is to win the Champions League.

Lyon finished second behind PSG in 2015-16 but 31 points adrift and they never looked like winning the title. Before the investment in PSG the club won seven titles in France from 2001-02 to 2007-08 but have fallen behind their rivals financially. Lyon have never reached the final of the Champions League or Europa League and second place in France looks likely again behind the team from Paris.



Bayern Munich are known as the Hollywood club in Germany due to their wealth and star quality. They regularly provide several players to the German national side and those players made a large contribution when Germany won the World Cup in 2014. Since the start of the 2012-13 season Bayern have won the Bundesliga four times and won the Champions League at the end of that season.

Borussia Dortmund challenged the power of Bayern Munich under Jurgen Klopp who moved to Liverpool during the 2015-16 season. They won the Bundesliga twice at the start of the decade and lost to their German rivals in the final of the Champions League in the 2012-13 season. Despite a dip in league form Dortmund won the German Cup in the 2015-16 season.



Juventus are the biggest club in Italy and have been backed by the family that owns the Fiat car company. The current squad are by far the best in Serie A and they have been champions of Italy in every season from 2011-12 to 2015-16 and are clear favourites to win another title. Despite dominating Italian football Juventus have not been champions of Europe since 1995-96.

Roma were third to Juventus in the Italian championship in the 2015-16 season but were 12 points behind the title winners and never looked like finishing ahead of them in the table. They are a huge city club but have only won three titles in Italy and not since 2001-02. Roma have won Coppa Italia nine times but have not lifted a European trophy since winning their only continental honour, the Fairs Cup in 1960-61.

Price Factors

Odds for football matches are compiled on the basis of the following factors:


Over the course of a number of years and many leagues around the world it appears that about half of all professional football matches are won by the home team and a quarter are won by the away team and are drawn. In qualifying for international tournaments the home side have a clear advantage especially in a hostile environment. Home advantage is real and this can be attributed to having most support or being used to the playing conditions and facilities. However, further analysis reveals that only the top sides win more than half their home matches and middle and lower teams draw as many home games as any other result. A team in the relegation places will lose most matches and draw and win about the same number of matches.

Recent form is more significant than season long form but the result in the previous match does not always lead to the same result in the next match. Results from the Premier League show that the most common number in a run of the same outcome is one. That means after a side win a match a draw or loss is no less likely in the next match which is a significant observation for those betting on football. However, a winning team builds confidence and the squad could be injury free. Patterns emerge but mid-table sides are a bit inconsistent but an average side on a good or bad run can turn it around negatively and positively. Losing teams lacking confidence may miss the fight to avoid defeat. Confidence is a massive part of any sport and particularly one like football which is based on instinct. Automatic actions become stilted and the overall level of performance drops.

Injuries and Suspensions

Injuries are the bane of every football manager and professoinoal player. Absentees because of condition issues can have a big impact. However, some players are more important than others. A striker in form and scoring goals would be a big miss if not available due to an injury. Generally, players in a defensive unit are more important than a lone striker who is more easily replaced. Goalkeepers and central defenders in a solid group are missed more than an individual who plays in attack. When If a team captain misses a match due to injury the team can be leaderless if another senior player does not take responsibility to fill the breach. Some sides have a number of natural leaders but Liverpool were always less effective without Steven Gerrard and John Terry was a legendary captain of Chelsea and neither were strikers. Germany were weakened by injury in their defeat to France in the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Suspensions due to yellow and red cards can have a significant effect on the outcome of a match. Aaron Ramsey picked up two yellow cards in five matches playing for Wales in Euro 2016 so was suspended for the semi-final against Portugal. His creativity in midfield was missed and Gareth Bale was not as effective. Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were banned from playing for Manchester United in the final of the Champions League in 1999 due to indiscipline and bookings. Famously Paul Gascoigne (‘Gazza’) would not have been able to play for England in the 1990 World Cup final because he was booked for a second time in the tournament during the defeat on penalties against Germany. It must be difficult for players who have been booked early in a tournament or match to play their natural game. When key players are unavailable due to injury or suspension team effectivesness can suffer.

Team Selection

Managers often make team selections that weaken their side with the long term picture in mind but that strategy is fraught with danger. The most successful sides are settled especially in international tournaments. At Euro 96 Terry Venables basically went with the same players for each match and England reached the semi-finals. Conversely Roy Hodgson made six changes from the England eleven that scored in the last minute to beat Wales in Euro 2016. Momentum was lost and England drew 0-0 in the next match against Slovakia. They finished second in the group and were lucky to face Iceland in the last 16. However, the lack of consistency in team selection contributed to the worst performance by the England national team in living memory. It is debateable whether England would have had a better tournament without making the changes but things couldn’t have been much worse.

Arguably the most significant outcome from a team selection was the final of the 1966 World Cup. Ahead of the tournament Jimmy Greaves was the best striker available for selection. However, he was injured early in the tournament and was replaced by the relatively inexperienced Geoff Hurst. Greaves was fit for the final but the England manager, Alf Ramsey, selected Hurst ahead of him. That player scored three goals to help England beat West Germany and he is still the only player to score a hat trick in the World Cup final. Team selections can change careers and it is said Greaves never recovered and later in life suffered from a severe alcoholism problem which has been in remission for many years. A decision made by a manager when selecting a team for a specific match changed the course of football history.

Recent Head-To-Head Results

The result of one match does not equate to the same result in the next match. Football bettors tend to put a great deal of weighting on the most recent form. However, the most common run of the same result is one which means a win for any team is more likely to be followed by a draw or loss in the next match than another win. This trend is useful when looking at recent head-to-head results between two teams in a match. The team that won the previous match is in fact less likely to win a fixture than their opponents. If two teams are evenly matched the same result is less likely in successive matches than different results. In a league programme teams meet on a home and away basis so there are only two league fixtures in any one year. Changes in personnel can make recent head-to-head records redundant but when both sides are settled they can be useful in making football betting decisions. However, records from more than five years ago have little value in assessing relative form.

Recent Events

Football matches are played in the context of events of the field and these should be factored in when assessing betting markets. A manager’s job may be under threat during a poor run and he may have lost the confidence and respect of the players. During the 2015-16 Premier league season in England Newcastle United were badly run and managed by Steve McLaren. He was clearly unsuited to the job and was replaced by Rafa Bentiez. Although Newcastle were still relegated there was an improvement in form and results after the departure of McLaren. Clubs under financial pressure or a leading player out of form can demoralise a side and that impacts on their value in the betting. External events should be considered when deciding which team to back to win a football match. Players or managers returning to their former clubs can be motivational factors and affect betting value. When two teams meet with little to play for league positions and recent form are less important price factors and outcomes are more unpredictable.

Derby Games

There is a saying that form goes out of the window in derby matches which bring together local rivals. In the 1970s and 1980s Liverpool had much more success than Manchester United in winning league titles. However, United produced results beyond expectations because these sides are close geographically and have a historical rivalry.  Home advantage can be negated in a derby match as the visiting team may be motivated rather than demoralised by the hostile atmosphere. Intense rivalries are not restricted by location and arguably the biggest rivalry in world football is between Real Madrid and Barcelona who are based in different parts of Spain. In England there are bitter relationships between southern and northern teams which can affect value in the betting markets in matches when they meet.  International teams have traditional rivalries which can motivate one or both sides.

Progressive Betting System

There are many betting systems that can be followed when trying to make profits betting on football. Bookmakers are happy to accommodate customers who follow systems because most are unproven and will lose money over a sustained period of time. A system may enjoy good results in the short term but these can be due to anomalies in results and not predictable trends that can be applied to future matches. Progressive football betting systems are not exciting and there is no scope for discretional decisions but there are claims that they can make substantial profits though it is debateable if the potential returns are worth the risks.

The Fibonacci football betting system is one such progressive strategy. The system has simple rules and that are to bet on the draw in a football match and if that is a losing match bet on a draw in the next match. The process should be continued until there is a draw and then started again with the original staking. The system identifies an optimum price so only draws with a probability of 2.618 or more should be backed. This minimum draw price translates into progressive betting and increased stakes in this sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21. The theory is that draws are more difficult for bookmakers to predict and increasing stakes will cover the previous losses. In time there will be draws and past history suggests at odds higher than the required probability so with infinite funds the system will make money.

Statistic from the English Premier League suggest there is one draw in four matches and these are generally above the probability threshold of 2.618. On average there should be a win every four games which equates to the fourth stake unit in the sequence which is 3. Over 380 games in a Premier League season this progressive system has potential for decent profits. However, many matches are played at the same time so all matches cannot be covered for sequential backing of the draw. Fixtures that take place at the same time may produce more draws than the average and this would upset the odds. The biggest flaw is that long runs of fixtures that are not drawn could empty the betting bank before a winning bet. Stakes increase exponentially and huge losses are possible. The theory of progressive betting is sound but the practicalities mean they should be applied with caution.

Football lends itself to tipping services and there are many online that have varying degrees of success. Some services merely interpret past results and identify potential draws. This type of service offers little unique and more than that can be gleaned by statistics. Draws are hard to predict in football because there are so many variables. Progressive betting systems based on backing draws are susceptible to a long run of losers. The stake unit soon builds and betting limits could be reached so that bookmakers will not take the next bet in the sequence so the ongoing losses cannot be offset by one win. Strategies can be devised based on evidence and past results but football is an unpredictable sport and nothing is certain. Tipping services should be proven over a full season as anything less could be a statistical anomaly.

Match Statistics

The following match statistics are available online and can be used when deciding which team to back and if the odds offer betting value:

  • Shots on target
  • Fouls conceded
  • Shots off target
  • Fouls won
  • Possession %
  • Corners won
  • Total passes
  • Accurate passes
  • Yellow cards
  • Red cards

Player Statistics

  • Full name
  • Position
  • Club
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Place of birth
  • Nationality
  • Date signed
  • Fee
  • Season
  • League appearances
  • League goals
  • Domestic Cup appearances
  • Domestic Cup goals
  • European appearances
  • European goals
  • Goals per game by type of fixture and total
  • Records from previous

Team Statistics

Details of Club

  • Nickname
  • Stadium
  • Manager
  • Year founded
  • Chairman
  • Address
  • Website


  • Competition
  • Date
  • Home team
  • Away team
  • Odds
  • Score


  • Player in or out
  • Club signed from
  • Club signed for
  • Fee

Club All Time Records

  • Record attendance
  • Record gate receipts
  • Best league win
  • Worst league win
  • Best Cup win
  • Worst Cup win
  • Most capped player
  • League appearances
  • League goals
  • Goals in one season
  • Transfer fee paid
  • Transfer fee received

Head-To-Head Records

  • Opponent
  • Wins
  • Draws
  • Losses
  • Split by League, Cups and total
  • Historical results showing score, scorers, possession shots and corners

Although statistics are useful in making betting decisions other price factors must be considered. One major flaw with stats is that just because something happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen again. Bookmakers have access to the same statistics so the key is for the bettor to interpret them more accurately than odds compilers. Football market makers have a built in profit margin which means bettors have to be right more often than not to beat the book.

Useful Websites

Here is a list of some useful websites that provide odds and information for football betting:




Closing Comments

Football betting continues to grow and each successive major international football tournament is bigger for betting than the previous one. Football is now played over a 12 month season and a day does not pass without a football match to bet on and watch. Free bets are offered by all the major bookmakers to encourage football betting by new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing ones. Football accounts for most bets taken by sportsbooks and betting exchanges. More leagues and markets are offered than for any other sport. Expanding tournaments has increased the number of matches and betting opportunities. New television deals have put a massive cost on live coverage which encourages betting. The industry will consolidate but continue to develop innovative football betting products. The growth in football betting does not look like slowing down. Several major football clubs have business relationship with bookmakers such as shirt advertising, naming rights to stadiums and official partnerships. The extra revenues in the game will see football continue to prosper and that betting will be part of that expansion and business model.

Bet on Football now