As the world’s most popular sport, football has always been a high profile betting sport, and as the internet betting revolution has grown over the last 20 years, bookmakers have become adept at providing ever more imaginative ways to bet on the beautiful game.
Most punters still favour the Match Winner market, which naturally sees the majority of business across all betting sites, but many of those who like to bet on the sport prefer alternative ways to bet, and one of the more interesting football betting methods is spread betting.
What is spread betting?
Spread betting is a form of betting that became popular in the UK and across Europe during the 1990s and owes much to the boom in share dealing associated with some of the world’s economies, particularly the UK and US, during the 1980s.
The traditional betting model sees bookmakers offer prices on certain events and punters then have to decide which selection they want to back. There is a clear limit both on how much a punter stands to lose in a bet and how much they can win. With spread betting, that is not the case. The more right you are with a spread bet, the more you win. Of course, the flip side of that is that the more wrong you are, the more you stand to lose!
What is a spread?
A spread is a phrase well known in sports betting. In the US, it is commonly used in regular sports betting, but in Europe, it is usually associated with spread betting. A spread is a numerical range, also sometimes called a quote, against which punters can bet. The spread can be quoted in a variety of different formats. For example, it is possible to see these football spreads on a typical event:
- 15-18 shots
- 30-40 card index
- 10-12 corners
- 2-2.5 total goals
The flexibility of the spread means that it can be applied to many different aspects of the sport, so spread betting companies have been able to present punters with many different ways to bet.
What does the spread mean in football betting?
In football spread betting, whether you are betting on the number of shots, corners or goals, the spread is key. The spread represents the range in which the spread betting company thinks the result will fall, and punters can either bet over or under that range.
This may sound similar to the Over/Under markets that are common in modern sports betting, but with football spread betting there is a difference. Rather than betting a certain stake on the Over or Under option at a particular price, in spread betting, you simply have to confirm your stake per point. Your winnings or your losses are then determined by the extent to which the final outcome deviates from the spread multiplied by your stake per point.
For example, let’s say the spread on a corners market was 10-12. You opt to back over the spread at £5 per point. In this case, a ‘point’ is one corner. If there are 20 corners during the game, your profit will be calculated as follows:
- 20 – 12 * £5 = £40
On the other hand, if there were only five corners in the game, your losses would be:
- 5 – 10 * £5 = -£25
As you can see, this is a radically different style of football betting, in which there is no upper limit on your potential winnings or losses. This means that once you have placed a spread bet, you can’t be sure exactly how much money you will stand to win or lose.
Football spread betting markets
As mentioned above, there are a number of football spread betting markets. Some of them, such as Total Shots, Total Corners and Total Goals are self-explanatory.
One of the most popular is the Card Index Spread. In this case, red cards and yellow cards are worth a set number of points, and the points spread is expressed as a number, based on how many cards are expected. Assigning points to game incidents are often used in the spread betting world and can create many unusual and interesting spread betting markets.
The risk of football spread betting
As you can see, football spread betting brings with it a much higher level of risk than would be the case with regular football betting. As there is, in theory, no upper limit on losses or wins, spread betting companies are obliged to issue several warnings to spread betting customers about the risks involved and will have to carry out checks to ensure that you can cover any losses.
For many punters, this will prove to be too risky a proposition and they will prefer to confine themselves to the standard football betting markets. But the skills required to make a success of spread betting can come in handy with regular betting (see betting offers from William Hill), so it can be a good idea to look at a few of these markets to see how they work, even if you don’t bet on them.