Football provides one of the biggest markets for bookmakers and it seems only a matter of time before it surpasses horse racing as the highest revenue sport. As such, football betting is highly popular among punters, with large sums of money being staked every day on matches around the globe.
As with any sport, the key to making money is to find the markets where the bookmakers are offering value. Football is becoming increasingly difficult to make money on as the level of information available to the bookmakers continues to grow. It is virtually impossible to have more information on major matches than the bookies now do, and hence very difficult to find an edge.
It means that, to make a profit on football betting, the smart punter needs to turn their attention to some of the less high-profile matches. While the prices on the English Premier League tend to be spot on, there are many lower leagues or smaller countries where a bit of research can give an edge to the punter in their football pre-event betting.
No matter how many traders the bookmakers have, they cannot have all the information on every league. This is where the edge can come from. Picking one particular country or league within a country and specialising can prove a very profitable strategy. Whether that be the Isthmian League in the seventh tier of English football or the Costa Rican Premier Division, it is relatively straightforward to build a bigger knowledge base than the bookmakers.
A key aspect to this football betting strategy is finding a good, reliable source of information. There are plenty of websites and newsletters that specialise in non-league English football, while there are similar resources available for most leagues around the world. Language can be an issue with some of these, so it may be worth concentrating on a league or country where the main resources are in a language that you speak.
Home and away advantage can vary significantly between leagues as well. Often in the lower leagues, home advantage is far less of a factor, especially in midweek matches. When the players are generally part-time, an away match means a day off work and a nice warm coach to the match. A home match means playing after a long day at work and suffering potential abuse from the home fans that have turned out.
In larger countries, travelling distances between cities can be huge, resulting in long and tiring trips to reach away matches. Issues such as altitude differences within countries can also have a significant impact. As an example, Bloemfontein Celtic in the South African Premier Soccer League has a disproportionately strong home record given their usual league position. The obvious explanation for this is that they play at an elevation of over 4,500 ft, giving them a distinctive advantage over visiting sides from the coast.
However, in these more obscure leagues, the real advantage comes with team news. With the number of leagues that the bookmakers cover, it is difficult for them to cover the team news for every league. If you have that information to hand and, for example, one team is missing several key players, you can jump on, take advantage and boost your football pre-event betting profits.
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