FA Cup Round 1 Betting Analysis
Betting on Round 1 of the FA Cup? Looking for some historical trends? On the blog today, Manchild delivers a detailed analysis of FA Cup Round 1 of seasons past.
And if you would like to contribute a betting article of your own for the BettingExpert Blog, email to andrew at bettingexpert.com.
In May 2012, it is very likely one of only a select group of clubs will lift the FA Cup. But before then a small number of lower league clubs will negotiate the early rounds to catch the attention of the nation. In doing so these clubs can earn riches and rewards far in excess of anticipated annual income. With the chance of such enormous windfalls in the New Year, it is not realistic to expect a club to approach a first-round fixture in the same manner as a league match. The rules of the game are identical, the players are the same and the ball is the same shape - but recent seasons have provided evidence of fundamental differences in the approach to an FA Cup fixture. However, match odds for FA Cup fixtures are largely based on league statistics and there are often very little differences in the corresponding match markets on offer from bookmakers.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool have won 14 of the last 16 competitions, and with Man City winning last season, only Portsmouth (2008) has wrestled the trophy from the exclusive glamour clubs. The romance of the FA Cup in early rounds is less about romantic dreams of paying at Wembley, but instead greedy chairmen eye the benefits of pulling out a plum tie in the draw. Quite simply, being drawn against a giant club in round 3 or beyond can make the difference between financial ruin and long-term success at lower league clubs.
Potential FA Cup Income Sources
At the very least, there is not insignificant prize money available in each round. Winning round 1 is worth £18,000 from the FA. This increases to £27,000 in round 2 and £67,500 in round 3.
Within the FA Cup, gate receipts are split 45% each to team. Therefore a share of a large Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge gate can be worth as much as £600,000 to the visitors. For a small club operating on a turnover of under £1m this can make an enormous difference. If the match attracts television coverage, then another £150,000 might be expected in fees. Add to that the extra merchandise sales (£100,000) and increased attendances as a result of the publicity, and that plum looks to be made of gold. If the minnow manages to win or force a replay, the gravy train can be expected to rumble on even further.
Last season Crawley from the Conference managed to meet Manchester United in round 5. The FA Cup adventure generated as much as £1.4m, which has helped project-Crawley in their relentless march through the leagues. For other clubs, windfalls are used simply to pay debts and secure a future. Exeter probably owe their existence to a cup run in 2003, while Burton Albion used their £1m windfall in 2006 to mount a promotion challenge from the Conference which was achieved within three years. They still reside in the top half of league 2 today.
The chances of pulling a big-name club are small but the potential riches are enormous. It is increasingly vital in November and December that lower-league clubs navigate their way through the first two rounds in order to secure a ticket for this lottery.
League vs FA Cup Round 1 Probability
Probability is a beautiful subject. In the table below, the home/draw/away win results since 2006-2007 for the three main contributing leagues to FA Cup R1 are listed. Each individual match played within a division is unique and random, but the statistical trends within each league are reliable and startlingly consistent.
It can be seen that the home win percentage has varied from nearly 42% in League 2 to over 45% in League 1. Draws are remarkably stable at 26% to 27% in all three leagues, and away wins vary from 29% to 31%. Comparing FA Cup round 1 results over the same period reveals significantly fewer home wins (40.3%), more draws (28.4%) and a similar number of away wins with the knock-out format.
All very well you might say, because FA Cup round 1 matches generally involve clubs from different leagues, and approximately half the time the away side will be stronger. Therefore it is no surprise that there are fewer home wins than in league games. However, if that was the case then it does seem anomalous that the number of away wins does not increase at the expense of draws.
Looking more closely at the half-time and full-time statistics reveals even more interesting results.
The table above shows the half-time / full-time result breakdown for the three leagues and FA Cup R1 since season 2006-2007. The first number to stand out is the high number of FA Cup R1 games in which the home side leads at both half-time and full-time (28.9%). Ah, you say, but when a superior team plays a relative minnow, the home/home win is much more likely. This is true, but why should the other ‘high’ double result, half-time draw / full-time draw (18.4%) be so much more prevalent? The increase in the home / home and draw / draw double results appears to be at the expense of the draw / home result in the FA Cup R1. This happens a much reduced 8.5% of the time from a league average of between 14% and 15%.
The conclusion from Table 2 is that in the FA Cup R1, home wins are significantly more likely to have occurred with the home team leading at half-time. If scores are level at the break, the home win becomes significantly less likely at the expense of a full-time stalemate.
In fact the statistics since season 2006-2007 back this up. The half-time result is much more likely to be the final result in FA Cup R1 (64.2%) compared to results in league matches (59.2%).
The table below shows the percentage of each half-time result that went on to be the same full-time result over the same time period.
This table reveals that the percentage of half-time draws that remain level at full-time for FA Cup R1 games is significantly above results from the Conference Premier and League 2. In league games with three-points at stake, it is understandable that one or both of the teams involved strive for a positive result. It seems that in the FA Cup R1, the onus is staying in the competition and avoiding defeat. It seems remarkable that home advantage does not encourage the host team to seek a break-through as much as happens in league matches.
The most basic conclusion that could be drawn from the data is that if the home team is leading at the break, they are very likely to win the tie. However, if scores are level at half-time, the home teams are happier to settle for a draw.
FA Cup Round 1 Betting Initiatives
Each tie on the forthcoming FA Cup R1 coupon must be considered on its own merits. However, when backing a home team to win the match it may well pay to back the half-time / full-time win result instead. Similarly, when backing the draw (or the half-time draw), consideration should be given to the large number of matches that follow the draw/ draw pattern. Conversely, backers of the half-time draw/ full-time home double result should venture very warily indeed during FA Cup round 1.
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Quality work bro, enjoyed reading that..