Opinion: ‘Football Pundit Predictions’ – Are they worth a dime?

Should you pay attention to ‘football pundit' predictions?

To say that the football tipster market is ‘saturated’ is as big an understatement as saying that adverts from the likes of Paddy Power and Ladbrokes are ‘mildly annoying.’ Whether you are online or reading newspapers and magazines the old-fashioned way, there is some ‘expert’ declaring that a specific bet is a ‘banker.’

First and foremost, never follow anyone who claims that their tip is ‘guaranteed’ to win because such a thing simply doesn’t exist. While Football Advisor’s Bank Builder does a fine job of helping you sensibly boost your balance, it never guarantees a winner. A prime example of a short odds shocker happened at Ludlow in March 2018. The horse racing world was stunned when 1/20 shot, Tree of Liberty, was beaten.


Enter the ‘Celebrity’ Tipster

Given the skill required to pick winners consistently, it is galling to see the tips of celebrity pundits, normally ex-football players, practically rammed down our throat. Pundits including Paul Merson, Jermaine Jenas, Danny Mills, and even Jeff Stelling provide you with frankly unwanted opinions.

Stelling aside, they claim that the fact they played the game at a high level means we should hold them in awe. This is a sound suggestion, in theory. In practice, once you hear their ‘analysis’ of games, any modicum of respect you once had for them dissipates almost as quickly as the sound of groans when another one of Paul Merson’s tips fails miserably.

Aside from an unwillingness to set aside their biases, these pundits show a remarkable lack of knowledge for a sport they devoted their careers to. It is almost as if they have no idea what they are talking about. As punters, we must ‘vet’ tipsters as thoroughly as we research our own tips.


Maybe Their Bets ARE Better Than the Average Punter’s?


Hell no! Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit ‘A,’ Paul Merson. Aside from being a pundit on Sky Sports, Merson tries his hand at predicting who he thinks will win games, primarily in the Premier League where he plied his trade for much of his career. You will see his tips on the Sky Sports website and in national newspapers. His predictions continue to get highlighted in print, on the airwaves, and on television so surely, he MUST be good?


He doesn’t have a clue!


Merson revealed that he probably lost up to £7 million gambling, yet Sky Sports continue to use him as a means of promoting gambling on Sky Bet. It is a sad indictment of this particular bookmaker that it uses a man who has suffered terribly from an affliction to advertise its offerings.

Gambling addiction and suffering significant financial losses are a serious condition and should be treated as such. Football Advisor advocates responsible betting and only betting within your financial means and with money that you can afford to lose. If you, or someone you know, is suffering with some form of Gambling addition or Gambling related problem, we highly recommend contacting a support association, such as Gamblers Anonymous, to get the appropriate support that you or they may need

Back in August 2017, Sky Sports claimed that following Merson’s tips would result in an ROI of 14% with a strike rate of 58%. The site claimed the statistics came from the 2016/17 season but didn’t bother offering any proof that the odds on his selections were correct.

One must assume that they used the highest possible odds available anywhere; even if they were only available for a microsecond. Those who have analysed his tips will rightly struggle to understand how anyone could make a profit from following his predictions. This is a man who:


  • Criticised Hull City for appointing Marco Silva during the 2017/18 because there were enough English managers available. He then went on to recommend managerial legend and proud Englishman… Thierry Henry!
  • Said he would dress up as Gonzo if Huddersfield town avoided relegation in 2017/18 (he kept his promise to be fair).
  • Claimed there was no chance that Leicester could beat Sevilla in the 2017/18 Champions League round of 16 (they did).


It isn’t helped by the fact he can’t be bothered to research games. When analysing Chelsea versus Tottenham Hotspur during the 2017/18 season, he claimed that Spurs “are not the greatest side away from home for where they are in the league.” The thing is, Spurs had the second-best away record at the time despite being in fourth place in the league at the time. They went on to win 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Merson is far from the only ex-pro to underperform when making predictions. Robbie Savage has a column called #SavAcca where he tips several teams in an accumulator. By April 2018, almost the end of the season, none of his accas had been successful!

There is also a tendency for ex-footballers to show bias towards former teams. Mark Lawrenson, who was a magnificent player for Liverpool, tends to overestimate his team, Liverpool. He is also guilty of playing it safe and obvious by practically always predicting the top 6 teams to win when they face off against one of the other 14 Premier League teams.

To be clear, he makes his predictions on a game-by-game basis, but it looks VERY bad when the points are totted up at the end of the season. During the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, Liverpool lost 11 league games, but Lawro had tipped the Reds to lose zero times!

In fact, his final 2017/18 totals make painful reading regarding points gained by the top six (barring Man City), although he did a great job of picking the order in which the teams would finish.

City managed 100 points in reality, so a good shout from Lawro but Man United and Spurs were both tipped to get 97 points! Ultimately, it seems as if Lawrenson, like most ex-footballer pundits, are not concerned with things such as value, and always pick the easy option with no real thought given to their selections.

Would You Take Financial Advice from Someone Who Went Bankrupt?


Many Americans who voted for Donald Trump said they wanted a ‘good businessman’ to run the United States. Trump is a man with six bankruptcies to his name, including the remarkable feat of running a casino into the ground in Atlantic City. It is a known fact that ex-professional footballers have a hard time keeping their financial ship afloat after retirement.

Aside from high divorce rates, former pros perform very poorly when investing their money. To be fair, when you give a group of twentysomethings an insane amount of money, lots of free time, and little in the way of financial guidance, bad things can happen. An estimated 40% of players have financial problems either during their careers or after they hang up their boots.

However, Joey Barton got himself in hot water when it was revealed that he was not only betting on football but in matches his team was involved in! He may listen to The Smiths and read Nietzsche, but screenshots of his bets revealed laughable ineptitude when it came to wagering on football matches.

Barton made 15,000 bets in a 13-year period but the most shocking ones involved 30 bets in games involving teams he was playing with at the time. For a man who should have inside knowledge, his strike rate is lamentable; just three wins from 30! He bet on his Newcastle team-mates losing to Chelsea and Man United and was wrong both times. Barton also bet on Newcastle beating Stevenage in the FA Cup. A banker surely? Not so, as the Magpies were beaten 3-1 in an almighty upset.


Here is a short list of other absurd ex-pro predictions:


  • Pele claimed that Nii Lamptey was his natural successor. The young Ghanaian played for multiple clubs and was the epitome of a low-level journeyman.
  • Lawro said he would shave off his moustache if Bolton stayed up in 2001/02, he had to get his razor out!
  • Alan Hansen famously said “you’ll never win anything with kids” after Man United’s young team lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1995/96 season. Whippersnappers such as Giggs, Neville, and Beckham helped United win the league and FA cup double that season.
  • Ian Holloway said Huddersfield Town would be relegated in the 2016/17 season due to manager David Wagner’s inexperience. Wagner led the Terriers to a remarkable promotion season to the Premier League!


Leave it to the REAL Experts!


The entire ‘footballers are a bit thick’ suggestion might be a tad cliché, but in general, football players are not concerned about the minutiae of the sport. They want to play, win, and spend hours on social media. Of course, there are a few former players who have performed admirably financially speaking since retiring.

Former Swiss international and Spurs defender, Ramon Vega, used knowledge gained from a degree in finance and banking to earn an estimated £15 million since retiring in 2004. Despite false rumours that he is a billionaire, ex-AC Milan, and Arsenal player, Mathieu Flamini, has invested wisely. As has former Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler who has made his fortune investing in property.

While I would gladly take financial advice from the likes of Vega, Flamini or Fowler, I would steer clear of the vast majority of ex-pros offering football tips. After all, you don’t hear Ramon Vega shout his football predictions from the rooftops, do you?

In many cases, these ex-pros arrogantly assume that their knowledge is superior to everyone else’s which is why they don’t perform the requisite research. An inability to understand that they must analyse clubs, leagues, and players, as thoroughly as you and I ensure that their strike rates are even lower than average.

In summation, the answer to the title question is a resounding ‘no.’ In many cases, their predictions are pushed by betting companies, and we all know how that works. Bookies know that these celebrity tipsters are clueless but hope that their reputation will result in casual punters parting with their hard-earned cash on yet another appalling Merson ‘banker’.

Don’t follow the herd, do your own research; it’s better in the long-term (and probably the short and medium-term too!) If you are stuck for time, give Football Advisor a try. While you would go to a doctor for medical advice or a lawyer for legal tips, DON’T ask ex-pros for football tips. Leave it to the real professionals such as Football Advisor.


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  • Alberto

    Thanks for a great article – and what a pity so many people are willing to take advice from the wrong sources!

    • Jon @ Football Advisor

      Very true Alberto, some people can’t be told.. but I reckon all of us who use Football Advisor are a bit smarter than the average bear…

  • Peter

    Surely people will cotton on to Merson as a great source of income by laying all his advice.
    Might not make £7M but be well on the way!

  • David

    A so-called “Pro-Pundit”s advices are almost as bad as the half-time offerings from Bet 365 on the Sky games… avoid like the Bubonic plague!!

    Thank you for penning an enjoyable read.

  • Billy

    Brilliant. Very informative and in places really funny.


    No time for pundits in any sport if they know so much get out there and be a Manager.they always have the answers after the games have taken place.


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