EPL Soccer Odds: Leicester City Futures Bets Trouble For Some UK Sportsbooks

Kevin Stott

Friday, April 8, 2016 8:56 PM GMT

Friday, Apr. 8, 2016 8:56 PM GMT

There are only 6 weeks left in the EPL season and it looks like that club which has been in 1st place pretty much all season—Leicester City—is on it’s way to capturing its first Top Flight championship, possibly shocking the Sporting world and costing British Sportsbooks an estimated $14 million.

But will the Foxes fold and will some punters across the proverbial Pond decide to buy out on their 5,000/1 Futures Book bets? The answers seem to be a solid “No” and “No way,” and with Jamie Vardy and Leicester City looking like a computer and playing the kind of Defense that wins titles, it looks like those who took that ultimate gamble on the longest of longshots will be suddenly be put in the position of strangely having some Life-changing money all because of a small Futures Book bet on the Foxes.

 

Leicester City FC Still Holding 7-Point Lead With Just 6 Matches to Play 
Seldom do Sportsbooks around the world get smacked by some longshot team in the Futures Books marketplaces, but it appears it may be happening once again this year with British bookmakers and English Premier League side Leicester City which opened up with odds as high as 5,000/1 in some shops. British bookmaker William Hill—a company expanding its presence here rapidly in the state of Nevada—reportedly has 25 gamblers who backed the Foxes at 5,000/1 with very few choosing a partial buyout and no word of any full buyouts as Leicester City continues to impress.

William Hill Media Relations Director Graham Sharpe has estimated that Leicester City winning the English Premier League championship will cost sportsbooks an estimated $14 million in projected payouts to winners who wisely backed the upstart Foxes in the market. “The fairytale is definitely alive for punters and the Bookies’ nightmare is becoming a reality, “ Sharpe was quoted as saying. And unlike here in the Sportsbooks in the Silver State, bettors (often called punters) in the United Kingdom can buy out of potential winning Futures Book tickets at certain points if offered by the operator. And at this point, punters holding Leicester City Futures can cash in at William Hill at 66% of the value of what the ticket (bet) would pay should the Foxes and effervescent 64-year-old Italian Manager Claudio Ranieri end up claiming the Silverware. Few, if any will at this point. But a Press Release from William Hill Spokesman William Crilly said, although the company has reportedly settled a handful of abbreviated deals, nobody’s bailed out on the Foxes yet.

“Not one of our 5,000/1 punters have cashed out their potentially winning bets, “ Crilly said. “We are hoping, however, that as we approach the business end of the season, a few people will lose their nerve given that a Leicester Premier League win will cost us over £2m at the moment.” And that was then, before Leicester City defeated Southampton, 1-0 at Home in Leicester on Sunday at King Power Stadium (Filbert Way) on Matchday 33 as Captain Wes Morgan scored the game’s only goal and GK Kasper Schmeichel notched another Clean Sheet in front of this team’s brilliant and underrated Defensive back four with the Foxes immensely increasing its chances at winning the Premier League from 77.9% to 88.2% with the victory.

Foxes Title Will Dent Some Sportsbooks in UK
Director of Media David Williams of famous UK operator Ladbrokes said his company’s potential payout should Leicester City win will be the biggest in the company’s history and that he would be “shocked” if the Foxes didn’t win it all. So why don’t sportsbooks here in the US have the major liability on Leicester City? Even if Soccer were bigger in the US and fans here as knowledgeable about European Football, the odds that more Americans would be betting on a longshot like Leicester City are even a longer longshot. At least in Britain and in Europe, some fans were aware of—and had actually even heard of—Leicester City (4/11 to win English Premier League, Paddy Power), a smallish club from the the city of Leicester (Population 300,000) in the East Midlands area of England—the 11th largest urban area in England—whose previous highest-ever finish was 2nd place in the Top Flight in Division One way back in the 1928/1928 season. Most Leicester City Futures bets were likely by Foxes fans and not by investors looking to get Microsoft stock at its $21 offering price (1986). So this is really special.

Also, a fewer percentage of Americans would be on Leicester City as their betting dollars would already be spread over the Sports they know and are more familiar betting on. Now a few in the UK would be willing to bet on the Foxes through either being from that city (Leicester) or Region (East Midlands) and having an Emotional and Geographic tie to the club. In this case, the liability for Sportsbooks probably differs strongly with few in the US ever going to have Futures Book bets on EPL clubs—although I had $5 on Swansea City at 2,000/1 two years ago at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook—even as popularity of the world’s largest sport continues to grow and even as more people on the US wager on Soccer. The bad news for the Players is we won’t be seeing Leicester City at 5,000/1 after this for a couple of reasons. The first, things like this happen maybe once a decade or maybe longer. Like Pet Rocks and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

The richer and bigger and lowest-odds teams around the globe like Spanish La Liga’s Barcelona, the NFL’s New England Patriots and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors will usually be the ones winning the professional Sports titles and astute Sports Gamblers know that even finding a Futures Book longshot (that ultimately wins) of double-digit soccer odds (10/1 to 99/1) is insane while ever getting triple-digit odds (100/1 to 999/1) and winning a Futures Book bet in that range is simply miraculous. And quadruple-digit (1,000/1 and up) odds that win are just Fairy Tales, things that never happen and couldn’t happen and odds just put out because every team needs a Number and if you have been recently promoted or in danger of being relegated, then it makes perfect sense to have odds of 1,000/1 or more, right? Right. Uuuh, make that wrong, Bubba. After all, either Arsenal, defending Premier League champions Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have won the EPL for the L20 straight seasons and nobody can crack the financially-blessed Big Four super clubs, right?

And anyone thinking Sportsbook operators here in Las Vegas don’t know a thing or two about getting hurt by the big longshot payout only need to rewind back to 1991 when operators in Sin City lost millions of dollars when monster, triple-digit longshot MLB teams, the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins went from last place to first place and met in the World Series—meaning a longshot would win the MLB championship no matter what. And the lines to collect were incredible and the looks on the faces of the employees behind the counter priceless. But needless to say, the days of seeing 500/1 odds (before the season) for a team to win the World Series have passed although it looks like they could throw up a 5,000,000/1 to win the World Series on the poor San Diego Padres (0-3 in 3 games, 0 RF-22 RA) who are still desperately trying to score their first run.

 

About Leicester City FC; This is No Fluke After All These Matches
From opening odds in some places of 5,000/1 to current (Thursday, April 7) high odds 4/11 (Paddy Power), the meteoric rise of the value of these earlier Futures Book bets on Leicester City is truly historic in the Sports Gaming Industry. 5,000/1 to 4/11. And the odds on the Foxes could still drop with another win on Sunday and Sunderland (NBCSN, 8:25 a.m. EDT/5:25 a.m. PDT; Leicester City +110, Sunderland +240, Draw +240, bet365). And some of the stories and players behind this are amazing and make you see why this is happening. And it all started last season—Leicester City’s return season to the EPL after a decade after being promoted from the Championship after squeezing through when QPR couldn’t produce a late equalizer against AFC Bournemouth. It’s almost unbelievable looking back at that little fact now.

The Foxes, then coached by Nigel Pearson, had an impressive 21-match unbeaten run to put themselves in a position to have that chance. And to think, if The Hoops had scored and earned a Draw against the Cherries, we witness none of this beauty this particular season. Fate. And then there’s “The Great Escape”—W7 of their L9 matches—last season in the EPL when Leicester City found themselves in 20th and last place in the Premier League table on Christmas Day—and with no porridge in their bowls, Oliver—with just 10 Points earned from 17 matches played. Relegation was on the menu for Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch for the Foxes. But apparently not for Dinner as Leicester City rallied strongly over the L20 matches of the season to finish with an 11-9-19 Record (46 GF-55 GA) and in 14th place, and still up safe in the EPL to make all this History happen this year. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. You could probably tell someone of this remarkable feat by both this Little Engine That Could Club—which started off back in 1888 as the Leicester Fosse—and this season’s Longshot Punters, but good luck trying to get them off the Smartphone and in the US, Soccer can still only be bandied about in certain circles.

This is also a tremendous news story, knowing longshots could be won for The Little Guy both as a club and as punters who dared. But like all success stories, there are great people behind it. Like Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, whose Birthday was celebrated on Sunday by giving a Free Beer and a Free Donut for all attending fans (1-0-0 on Donut Day). And the Foxes made a massive move last year, going for Italian manager Ranieri at the perfect time and his calm and happy-go-lucky demeanor seems infectious and this club is loose as a team gets. He is truly like a 12th player because of this combination of Confidence and Calmness. And the Foxes have had plenty of reasons to tighten up, but like last year—and maybe learned last year—Leicester City just keeps winning and have proved super-resilient winning 14 of 16 matches by just 1 goal. Avoiding any serious Losing Streaks and being able to Win (or get a Result = Draw in Soccer) is imperative for elite sports teams and the Foxes have done just that for almost a year-and-half straight now, almost under-the-radar until the Calendar year 2016 clicked in and the Mainstream Media realized what’s going on over in East Midlands.

And could we talk about this lovable club’s current players? Could somebody talk about the bleeding Leicester City players for the love of Pelé? Chelsea Captain John Terry sure could, bless his Royal Blue bleeding heart. The veteran Chelsea CB had 8 of the 11 players on his EPL Team of the Year from Leicester City including Danish GK Kasper Schmeichel, CB Robert Huth, CB Wes Morgan, MF Riyad Mahrez, MF Danny Drinkwater, MF N'Golo Kanté and, of course, F Jamie Vardy. When you have two of the league’s Top 5 scorers on your attack in Vardy (19 goals) and the electric Mahrez (16 goals), then you can usually hang with anyone, but toss in this consistent, hard-working D and you can see why the Foxes (20-9-3, 55 GF-31 GA, 69 points) are up over 2nd-place Tottenham Hotspur (17-11-4, 62 points) by 7 points with just 6 games to go. They’ve really earned, by playing as a team and going just one game at a time and this team truly has the perfect Mindset, thanks to Ranieri, to seal the deal.

 

Can They Win It, Will They Win It?
Yes, definitely and probably between odds of 8/1 to 15/1 to maybe 20/1 for the daring, with any of those theoretical Sportsbooks offering Leicester City at those higher odds for the 2016/17 English Premier League season seeing them being gobbled up quickly. But one massive problem Sports Bettors who smell the Roses but forget about the Thorns, Mulch, Time and Work is that 75% of prospective bettors will be oblivious to the fact that the Foxes will suddenly be thrust into playing traditionally successful clubs like Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League and the whiplash from going from playing small clubs like Burnley, Derby County and Nottingham Forest in the Championship three years ago to possibly playing monster clubs like German Fußball-Bundesliga power Bayern Munich and La Liga giants Barcelona and Lionel Messi and Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo. This, besides consuming huge amounts of Time, Travel and Money, will be like trying to go from running a quaint Corner Store to a Supermarket. Leicester City is/was a smallish club thrilled to just be be back up in England’s top flight of football, and currently have an 88.2 % chance of winning the Premier League with Spurs and Harry Kane 2nd at 7.8%, 3rd-place Arsenal (with a game in hand) at 3.8% and big-spenders Manchester City having a tiny 0.1% chance. And, the Sky Blues already had their Miracle. Taking at look at Leicester City’s L6 games, their projected odds to win those matches and the results from their meetings with these teams the first time this season, we find:

Matchweek 33: Sunday, April 10—at Sunderland
Chances at Win: 44%
First Meeting: LEI 4-2 SUN (Aug. 8)

Matchweek 34: Sunday, April 17—West Ham United
Chances at Win: 50%
First Meeting: WH 1-2 LEI (Aug. 15)

Matchweek 35: Sunday, April 24—Swansea City
Chances at Win: 59%
First Meeting: SWANS 0-3 LEI (Dec. 5)

Matchweek 36: Sunday, May 1—at Manchester United
Chances at Win: 27%
First Meeting: LEI 1-1 MC (Nov. 28)

Matchweek 37: Saturday, May 7—Everton
Chances at Win: 49%
First Meeting: EVER 2-3 LEI (Dec. 28)

Matchweek 38: Sunday, May 15—at Chelsea
Chances at Win: 25%
First Meeting: LEI 2-1 CHE (Dec. 14)

Conclusion
This is What’s It’s all About—Well Done You Little Longshot Punters, And Smart Idea Not to Buy Out. We plugged backing Leicester City as a Longshot soccer pick at still respectable 16/1 odds from out Halfway Point update here at Sportsbook Review in January:

And this will be a fantastic thing for Sportsbooks and the Premier League for a number of reasons, despite the momentary blip on the radar for some in the UK. First, it opens so many eyes to the actual Futures Book marketplace. Though growing in popularity every year and seemingly always a great thing for the House...until something (wonderful) like this happens. But the sheer publicity Leicester City, the Premier League and British Sportsbooks have all received from this Cinderella story is unparalleled and maybe UK operators decide to lower Futures Book odds on mega-long-shots like Las Vegas Sports Book Directors did after getting burned by the Braves and the Twins in 1991. But seeing a team being promoted and then winning the following year is like seeing the Memphis Redbirds make the jump from AAA to MLB in 2015 and then win the World Series in 2016.

Even though it can’t happen in the US, things like a Leicester City aren’t supposed to happen and it seems like there’s still some lingering doubt—although not with Foxes Futures holders—that they will indeed be crowned Premier League champions. And if the Foxes do win it, the publicity surrounding the feat will be worth well more than the reported $14 million UK Bookmakers will stand to lose with all of the future Future Books interest and wagers garnered from this one potential accomplishment. Easily.

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EPL Matchweek 33 Sunday Soccer Pick: Leicester City +126 over Sunderland
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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