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Trading The Big Club Historical Bias Edge

Martin's picture
Jun 22, 2018

You will hear us mention time and time again that Betfair trading is all about gaining an edge and hammering that home time after time to earn money over the long run. Sounds easy right? Well it is, as long as you can find an edge. Fortunately, we have software, training and pro traders on hand to help you find one. Today I want to talk about one edge I have used to my advantage over the years and is usually pretty easy to spot and take advantage from, I call it - 'Historical Big Club Bias'.

I have found over the years that certain big clubs with big legacies are often very short odds, no matter what their recent form has been. Now when I talk of recent form I am not really talking 2-3 games, I am talking more longer term such as half a season or even sometimes years. 

I will give some examples of this from recent memory:

Liverpool football club seem to always be overrated when playing teams outside of the top six in the Premier League. Yet to win a title since the Football League breakaway, Liverpool are still viewed in many people's eyes as the second biggest (and therefore often best) team in the country. Last season they were often heavy odds on in any game playing teams outside of the top six especially at home and yet they failed to beat Burnley, Everton, West Brom and Stoke and that was despite them having a very good season at home. Their was a similar story in 2016/17 where Liverpool failed to beat Southampton, Bournemouth, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Swansea at home despite being heavy odds on in those matches. In 2015/16 it was worse with Liverpool on winning two games against the bottom seven at home, again whilst being heavy odds on everytime. With the way Liverpool are playing at the moment this ship may have sailed a bit but the point is you could have layed Liverpool at home against the leagues smaller clubs and made a very good profit, even when they had decent seasons because they will always be viewed as a huge club and therefore a great team.

This edge has switched slightly in the Premier League (and Europe) to Manchester United, whose decline the market is only just starting to catch up with. Since Fergie retired in 2013 United have struggled to live up to their best club in England reputation but that has not stopped the market heavily favouring them to win, even in the darkest Van Gaal and Moyes days. In 2013/14 they won less than half of their home games, losing a massive 7 out of 19, almost unthinkable, this also happened in Mourinho's first year winning 8/19 at home. The next season they fared well at home but only won 6/19 away again despite being odds on in most of those matches. In the Champions League they have been awful and have suffered unexpected early knock outs in the 3/5 seasons they qualified for it only 2 out of 5 through the league. Although, Mourinho has steadied the ship somewhat there should still be opportunites to lay when they are overrated, it will happen due to the history of the club. 

Moving away from football to a very recent example in cricket I give you Australia. Definitely the most overrated team when it comes to odds being given by the market. The recent ODI series vs England is a great example of this. England the current number one in the world in ODI cricket have only been starting at 1.6+ v Australia. OK fair enough you may think but let's look a little more deeply at this:

  1. England are playing at home in conditions they suit.
  2. England have beaten Australia convincingly in the ICC trophy at home last year.
  3. Australia are reeling from sacking their coach and suspending their captain and vice captain (arguably their two best players)
  4. Australia bowling line up almost unrecognisable, felt almost like a reserve team

So with all this considered 1.6+ looks good value, still some may argue odds were not that far off reality and that is fine. Here is my question though - What would the odds be if it was England in the same boat as Australia? Virtually a reserve team out, coming back from huge adversity, in Australian conditiona and facing the number one Australian team in the world? Way below 1.6 and I imagine around 1.33 as was often the case in Australia glory days. England have won the first 4 ODIs in the series and all at similar odds to those quoted above. Only now are they sub 1.5 heading into the final match. The point is Austalia are remembered as the best team in the world who dominated throughout the late 90's and noughties (like Man Utd), therefore they will very often be overrated by a market who still has problems forgetting this. 

There are many other examples (think Real Madrid in the league this season or Argentina being one of the favourites for the World Cup) and I am sure you can find/think of some of your own. 

The good news? This will continue to happen, as legacies and dynasties continue to fall, such is the nature of sport. Look out for the New England Patriots once Tom Brady retires or Bill Belicheck moves on. Just be ready to pounce when you see odds that are clearly based more on historical bias than present day reality. 

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