Opinion: Why Amateur Football Leagues Are the Professional Way to Bet
£70,000 profit in three years…from amateur football betting
For a very long time, I was the archetypal ‘casual’ punter. My brother and I would back 4-7 team accumulators on the midweek and weekend coupons in the top four English and Scottish leagues. Although we both put a decent level of time and effort into our selections, they usually fell 1-2 legs short. Over the course of time, neither of us was in profit, despite that time I won a 54/1 7-team accumulator!
Back in May 2014, I came across a tipster mysteriously known as the Bounty Punter. Whatever you may think of the name (I liked it!), he seemed to know his stuff. Most importantly, he was doing something VERY different. Rather than focusing on major European leagues, he set his sights on obscure, usually amateur, leagues from around the world. Also, he recommended looking at single matches rather than accumulators.
It Was One Hell of a Wake-Up Call!
Turns out I, like so many punters, was doing it ALL wrong. From that point until last month, my total profit in slightly over three years stands at around £70,000. Sadly, it isn’t likely to get any better because I have been restricted by virtually every major online bookmaker that offers these sorts of games. In the future, I plan to create an eBook outlining my methodology, but I want to share some of it in this article.
One of the most striking things about amateur leagues and the majority of women’s football leagues is the extraordinarily high scorelines attached to mismatches. Games, where one team hits 10+, are relatively common in amateur matches. Compare that to the English premier league where a double-digit score hasn’t been achieved by any side in over 50 years. It is more or less the same in all ‘big’ European leagues although Real Madrid’s 10-2 win over Rayo Vallecano came fairly recently.
The obvious reason for the mismatches in amateur football is that the relative gap in quality is far greater than in professional leagues. Even a fairly poor Premier League side is still filled with trained professionals, usually with hundreds of appearances at the highest level. In contrast, amateur leagues are effectively ‘pub’ teams which help explain why the better sides in these leagues can rack up cricket scores with regularity.
There are also a few things that could slip by the average punter when choosing these teams. For example, during a midweek match, check out the distance the away side has to travel. This is especially relevant in huge countries like Germany. Although the German lower leagues are divided into regions for this very reason, we’re still talking about journeys of hundreds of miles.
The reason why midweek games could be relevant in this instance is that part-time players might not be able to get off work! With an already stretched squad, missing a handful of players will make an enormous difference. Granted, the downside here is trying to find team news which is next to impossible in the German fifth division!
One of the best things about amateur league football is the utter farcical nature of some matches. I’ve often profited enormously via in-play betting on games that became one-sided beyond belief. For instance, a team could already be 1/10 to win and say Evens for a -3 handicap. However, even this apparent safety net isn’t always enough to protect bookies.
I’ve enjoyed many an afternoon watching goals fly in during a match and repeatedly backing match goals or the handicap as every goal was scored! There were games where I would win eight or nine bets as a -3-handicap game ended up 11-0!
The biggest farce I can recall is also a source of great regret that I failed to act sooner. It was a Philippines cup match which involved a group stage system. The home team (Manila All-Japan) were quite poor, but the away side (called Dolphins) were the worst side in the competition having already shipped near double figures in each game.
Manila had to win by 15 goals to qualify which seemed unlikely given their lack of ability. As a result, they were around 5/4 to win in a -2 handicap if memory serves. Within 8 minutes, I knew something ‘odd’ was happening as the home side had 8 or 9 shots, with 6 on target. I backed them reasonably heavily on the handicap, and soon, they started scoring. By the 20th minute, it was 4-0. Unfortunately, the bookies finally reacted by perma-suspending the action.
I went to the Twitter account of the Philippines Football League and found out the reason for the mismatch. Dolphins were already out of the competition and only fielded nine players! By the 60th minute, two had got ‘injured,’ and once another player fell by the wayside, the match was abandoned with the score standing at 20-0! If only I had checked Twitter 10 minutes sooner.
Finding Suitable Bets
It is surprisingly easy to find possible mismatches once you get the hang of it. For me, it is a case of going to Bet365 and looking at teams who are at least 1/5 (1.20) or shorter. From there, I take a trip to Soccerway which has statistics for most leagues. On occasion, I am forced to check a country’s football federation website for details, such as when the Romanian Women’s Second Division games are on (an incredible league for betting opportunities, by the way).
Bet365 is probably the best site for searching matches because they tend to have games from almost every conceivable league.
Even as I write this, I saw this scoreline from a Serbian u19 league match. You won’t find a 6-1 HT score in many professional leagues. Unfortunately, the Serbian u19 league is one that isn’t available on Soccerway.
In any case, I look at the odds and then check the statistics of the teams involved to determine whether there is any value in match goals, team goals, half-time goals, or handicap betting. As I gained more experience, I found it easy to discard certain leagues and focus on the likes of:
- Estonian lower leagues. Even the first division is a farce because, as far as I know, there are only four professional teams out of 10. Flora Tallinn’s B team is one of the best in the second division and is a match for the amateur teams in the first division.
- Finland Kolmonen (Fourth Division).
- Icelandic 4. Deild (Fifth Division).
- U19 and U21 leagues.
- Cup matches in countries such as Slovenia where the gap between the first and third division, for example, is remarkable.
- Women’s leagues where mismatches are common.
Over time, you will find the best leagues. Eventually, the bookies catch up and get their odds somewhat correct, but there is usually a four-week period where they make a mess of things. Usually when a league is 5-10 games old.
Your next step is to determine if the likely odds are worth the bet through research. It can get a little tricky for cup games, but they have the potential to be a goldmine.
There are numerous examples of potential mismatches available every single day. As a result, you can afford to pick and choose your bets and wait for genuine bookmaker blunders such as this one I found during the summer.
The Russian fourth tier is an excellent source of mismatches as was the case in this match between the awful Burevestnik and Football School Moscow (FSM). Fortunately, Soccerway has upped its game and now includes details from more leagues than ever before including this particular amateur league.
The gap in quality is clear as Burevestnik has conceded 4+ on four occasions, all to higher ranked sides. FSM had not smashed many sides, but in this instance, the enormous gap in quality between the sides suggests a complete mismatch is likely.
At this point, I would like to introduce another possible edge. Paddy Power has a habit of making a complete mess of odds in amateur matches. I would advise that you check their site a few hours before the game because they usually offer fantastic odds for an hour or so before realising their mistake.
About three hours before the game, FSM was available at 9/2 on the -3 handicap on Paddy Power. At kick-off time, FSM -3 was just 8/5 on Bet365!
Well, well, well! An easy 9/2 winner in a game that always had the potential for such a scoreline. For the record, FSM won 7-0 and Burevestnik lost its next game 8-1!
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with an insight into how you can turn amateur matches into a bankroll booster. As you’ll have noted, practically all of my bets focused on individual games where you are hoping for one outcome. This practice already reduces the bookmaker’s edge and, as was the case with the Paddy Power bet above, they occasionally make a ricket which turns the odds completely in your favour.
Ready to take your betting from amateur to professional status? It's never been easier to upgrade your betting with the complete betting portfolio solution from Football Advisor.
Step by step guiding to building a successful and profitable betting portfolio. Download for free here
Weekly Best Bets:
It is designed to be a really easy and enjoyable service to follow along with just a couple of emails a week and a handful of well researched and supported bets recommended to you each week. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy why not join us for the full European season for just £9.95 a month or £77 for the whole season.
Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on www.lynchthewriter.com or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.