Blue Square Premier League Mid-Season Betting Report
Who are the clubs to look out for in the second half of the Blue Square season? Who are the value clubs in the season betting markets as we look forward? Today BettingExpert community member Manchild takes a close look at the current contenders for this season's Blue Square title.
And if you would like to contribute a betting article of your own for the BettingExpert Blog, email to andrew at bettingexpert.com.
There is currently a ten-day break before Blue Square Premier fixtures resume. With nearly 40% of the season complete, it provides a valuable opportunity to review the league table and championship betting market.
The current betting suggests the campaign has turned into a four-team race for the title. Fleetwood Town (9/4), Luton (10/3), Wrexham (9/2) and York City (6/1) lead the betting, with Mansfield (20/1) and Cambridge United (22/1) considered next.
After the first 18 rounds of matches, Wrexham top the table with 39 points, gaining 72% of those available. As a result, Wrexham’s title odds have tumbled from pre-season quotes of 16/1. On Betfair they have even been matched as low as 3.5 for the title. The fixture schedule has seen a balanced challenge to date with ten matches played against top-half teams and eight against bottom-half teams. Indeed, of the 15 points dropped so far, the only two squandered against lesser-ranked opponents was when Newport County secured a goalless draw at the Racecourse Ground last weekend. If the solid form continues, the Red Dragons might amass as many as 100 points which would have been enough to claim the title in three of the past five seasons in the current 24-team format.
However, on four of those occasions the winners were a distance from the field. Dagenham (95 points) won by 14 in 2007, Aldershot (101 pts) were clear by 15 a year later, Stevenage (99 pts) won by 11 in 2010, and last season Crawley won by a huge 15 points as they reached a total of 105. As no team appears capable of stretching the field this year, there are valid reasons for assuming a total of 95 points might be strong enough to claim the title.
Market leaders Fleetwood Town have 37 points from their 18 games, which equates to 68.5% of those available. If Fleetwood can continue that success rate they will reach 94 or 95 points. A look at their fixture schedule reveals that Fleetwood have only played six matches against top-half opposition, and from those only ten points were gained from a possible 18 available.
Fleetwood have won all six away matches against bottom-half opposition, but there are only six of these remaining to be played before April. At the Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood have also dropped nine-points in six home games against inferior teams (50% success rate), so it takes a remarkable turn of faith to assume the points-return rate will remain above 68%. It appears more likely that unless they kick-on significantly, Fleetwood will amass closer to 83 points from a more realistic 60% return.
York City sit in third place and are currently on a six-match unbeaten run. Their 63% conversion-rate suggests a total of 87 points in the final shake-up. Although they have played all of the other ‘big-three’ and remain undefeated, in five away-matches to top-half opposition, the Minstermen have won only once. The fixtures played have been split evenly across the table, but this fragility during travels to stronger teams would cause concern for potential backers at 6/1. Having said that, there are only a handful of such fixtures remaining, and so a post 90-point total might not be beyond York City.
Luton Town sit one point behind York with a 61% conversion-rate of available points. If Luton are to claim the title and gain automatic promotion they are going to have to improve significantly against the elite. Undefeated to teams in sixth and below in the current table, it has been the three defeats to Cambridge, York and Wrexham that has damaged Luton’s current position. Added to that, although the Kenilworth Road win-rate looks good against the bulk of the division, the 14-point haul from a possible 27 on their travels is an insufficient platform from which to launch a serious title bid. In theory Luton can win the title by beating only the weaker teams home and away, but in reality the Hatters need to begin to take points off their rivals. This problem with elite teams is not new: In the last two Conference seasons Luton have won only two of ten matches against fellow members of the top six.
Further down the table, Cambridge (also 61% return-rate of available points) look to have had it rather easy at home, having played only twelfth-placed Kidderminster of the top-half group. Opposition will get tougher and the U’s have much to prove after winning only once in five away matches against top-half teams. Gateshead have also started the season well, but having lost three of the last five games it appears as if their final total might be insufficient to claim the title. Last season the Tynesiders amassed 57 points, so they are well placed to improve on that. Indeed, with plenty of weaker teams to play at home, Gateshead provide some each-way appeal at 25/1 with SkyBet.
Looking back at the second half of season 2010-2011 might give clues to the relative strength of each team through the coming winter schedule and beyond. Luton and Fleetwood both dropped 31 points in the final 23 matches, which was more than they had dropped in the first half of the season. York dropped 30 points, which was a seven-point improvement on their first 23 games. Most impressive of all, Wrexham navigated their final 23 matches dropping only 25 points, which was also a seven-point improvement.
Intriguingly the next round of fixtures sees Fleetwood visit Luton and York entertaining Wrexham as the big-four play each other. They will then not meet until March by which time only a few fixtures will remain.
The conclusion is that Wrexham are very well placed to make a strong challenge for the title at 9/2, but there will be plenty of challenges ahead, starting with the upcoming York City clash. This match will be key as the Welsh outfit currently have a five-point advantage on York and six point on Luton. York City are also attractively priced at 6/1 with Bet365, and their chances could hinge on securing wins against mid-table opposition when they travel. After the Wrexham game, the next two away fixtures at Barrow and Forest Green are good examples of this type of hurdle, and could act as an indicator of potential glory.
Fleetwood Town make little appeal based on their poor price and tough remaining schedule. Luton Town are not without a chance, but they seem under-priced at 10/3. A win in their next fixture against Fleetwood would close the gap on the leaders, and a string of powerful away performances in 2012 could even see the Hatters move clear of the field.
Recommendation: After 18 rounds, both Wrexham at 9/2, and York City at 6/1 look to be well priced. Further back, Luton are currently in good form and can yet mount a challenge, but jollies Fleetwood Town might struggle to surpass 90 points.
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If you would like to contribute articles of your own betting analysis, strategy and philosophy for the BettingExpert Blog, send them to Andrew at andrew at bettingexpert.com.
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I can't remember the last time i actually took notice of this division. I think it was back in those days where championship manager was still on amiga or so and those FA Cup giant killers. Good entry, manchild.
All of them should be names of real towns. My favourite is Fleetwood because it reminds me of Monkey Island, the video game.
The other thing i like about the Blue Square league are the team names. If I am ever in England, I definately want to attend a game at Braintree Town.
The games are still open at the top of the Blue Square league. Very comprehensive analysis Richard.
It will be interesting to see where the odds stands following next weeks matchups. I might consider betting on both the home clubs in those matchups to win the title this week and see what happens after that. Looking forward to your next reports on League One, League two and the Championship.
Great post, Richard. I really enjoyed it. I think I'll try backing Luton. And I am happy to see that you use our table standings with embedded odds. I really like that feature myself.