The Dangers of ‘Next Manager’ Betting Markets

The saga that was Alex McLeish going to Aston Villa this summer only served to prove my theory that getting involved in ‘Next Manager’ betting markets is a very, very dangerous game that should be treated with extreme caution.

When you look at the facts, some of these markets are so dodgy that unless you are just investing a couple of silly quid at massive odds (like the 33/1 McLeish was to join Villa), you’re better off just completely giving them a wide berth.

Who would have predicted McLeish going to Villa? I certainly wouldn’t, I was actually stupidly laying him on Betfair (going against my own advice), but due to previous bitter experiences, only for a couple of quid – and remarkably, I actually came out with a small win (obviously after backing him on one of the occasions he drifted).

But why was McLeish available at a short enough price to lay on Betfair on the Friday afternoon, two days before he quit Birmingham? If someone told you then that McLeish was going from Birmingham to Villa you would have laughed wouldn’t you? Absolutely no chance, so why was he getting backed then?

When the bookies first put a ‘Next Manager’ market up, I would imagine the first book is just based on speculation. When the money starts to come in, is when we really start to see the market develope.

Alex McLeish didn’t just end up as one of the favourites on that Friday afternoon for no reason, money would have been the factor that forced his odds down. But why would any sane person be backing McLeish?

Well the answer is because someone, somewhere, knew something that we didn’t, and that’s where the money was coming from. In these markets we are playing with fire because other people involved know things that we don’t. In short, it’s like playing Poker with someone who knows your hand.

If you where playing Poker and you knew other people knew your hand, you wouldn’t play, would you? So why get involved in these ‘Next Manager’ markets?

I’ll give you another example, my bitter experience. Harry Redknapp’s return to Portsmouth from Southampton.

According to Sky Sports News and various other media outlets Neil Warnock was apparently the big favourite to get the Pompey job, he was to travel down to Portsmoth from Sheffield that night for talks and was set to be announced Portsmouth manager the next morning.

When I checked the odds on Betfair that night, Redknapp was odds on (about 1.70) and Warnock odds against (about 2.4), how the hell was this the case? Being a bit niaive (ok, extremely naive) at the time, I thought this is money for old rope and stupidly layed Redknapp.

What soon became blatently obvious was that old adage that ‘if something seems too good to be true, it’s because it generally is,’ and so it proved!

Looking back, the fact that Redknapp was favourite that night should have triggered some alarm bells in my head, but it didn’t.

Certain people somewhere either knew that Harry Redknapp was interested, or that Milan Mandaric was prepared to have him back in the job, or that Neil Warnock wouldn’t take or be offered the job – or all of the above.

Like with McLeish, someone knew something we didn’t – otherwise why else would Harry Redknapp be odds on favourite on Betfair for a job that was apparently about to be offered to Neil Warnock? I can’t remember for definate, but I’d say by this stage of proceedings most bookies had stopped taking bets due to the uncertainty in the market – and they’re not stupid, they had the common sense to stop taking bets.

Sure enough the next morning it was reported on Sky Sports News that Neil Warnock was to remain as manager of Sheffield United, and then the odds on Redknapp tumbled even more.

Someone knew in advance that Neil Warnock wouldn’t get the Portsmouth job and that Harry Redknapp would get it, just like someone clearly knew on the Friday that Randy Lerner was interested in McLeish and that he was preparing to quit Birmingham City.

When you bet on a football match, unless it is rigged, you know you are pitching your views against the views of another, basically it’s a fair bet based purely on your opinion. When you bet in a ‘Next Manager’ market, you can’t be sure it’s a fair playing field you’re betting on. The two examples I have given above go some way to showing that.

It’s hard to enough to win money gambling or trading as it is. This is the first of many articles I am going to be writing reviewing my betting strategies, and to start with, I’m placing these markets right at the top of my list of bets to avoid.

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