Supporters of Championship sides are desperate for their clubs to be promoted through the automatic spots and not enter the so-called ‘lottery’ of the play-offs. The long-held belief at the end-of-season tournament is that there is a lot of luck involved, and teams who have sneaked into play-off spots can often prevail. But how much truth is there to this? According to the bookies, third-placed Leeds United are still the favourites to take the remaining slot in the Premier League. So, what should bettors know before the games get underway.
Are the Play-Offs Too Much of a Lottery to Bet On?
Derby County and West Bromwich Albion are considered the outsiders for promotion and can be backed at 13/2 and 7/2, respectively. Betting on one of these sides would produce the highest returns, so bettors will be looking for evidence that makes them worth backing.
Going for the long shots is a prime opportunity to use a free bet. The Coral bookmakers offer allows new customers to bet £5 and get £20 in free bets. Using this on James Shan’s side could be the smartest money, as they were a well-established Premier League side until they dropped into the second tier. The Baggies will be hoping to get straight back and have some serious firepower at their disposal. Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez certainly have the ability to take West Brom all the way to the final and potentially win it.
The Smart Money
The smart money may still on Leeds, despite their form dropping off in the final furlong of the campaign. In the last 13 seasons, the side that has finished top has been promoted, but it’s usually been via the top two. Leeds are the anomaly in this sense, but still have a chance to reach the Promised Land. Statistically, things are in Leeds’ favour as well. Over 39% of third-placed teams end up winning the play-offs.
The Yorkshire side can be backed at 15/8, and bettors will be tempted to go with the Whites due to the meticulous nature of their manager. Bielsa and his staff undergo countless hours of research (and spying) when preparing for regular league games and are likely to up the ante massively for these crucial fixtures.
Aston Villa started the season as one of the favourites to win the league, but endured a dismal start under Steve Bruce, winning only three of the first twelve games and resulting in the sacking of the 58-year-old. Dean Smith was brought in to turn things around, and it took a while for things to click but, since the beginning of March and a 4-0 win over Derby County, the Birmingham side have been nigh on unstoppable.
The win over Frank Lampard’s side set the Villans off on a ten-game winning streak. Key players like Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham have hit top form, and this purple patch has led to bookies placing them at 1/1 to be promoted. The only thing going against them is that they’ve found Leeds hard to beat, and before the recent winning streak they were highly inconsistent.
The play-offs being a lottery is somewhat a myth as the statistics show that the third-placed side is much more likely to go up than teams that finished in other positions. But there are many things, such as form and fatigue, for bettors to consider, making this a perfect time to use free bets and limit risk.