In a new twist for the 2013/14 campaign, I’ve broken with tradition and opened up the Sky Blues Blog house to a very special group of writers. First up, Sky Blues fan and Football League betting expert Gavin Horsfall has stopped by to offer his insight into the best value Coventry-related markets for the upcoming season. 

Well if we’re not going to have any fun this year, we might as well make some money out of it.

Here’s a scenario for you. Let’s say I am a bookmaker and you are a bettor. You like betting on Coventry to win – in fact it’s the only bet you ever have, every week, every season. Between us we start keeping a tab. Every time Coventry play a league fixture you bet me £1 that they win. If they win the game I’ll pay you out at the best available odds for that match; if they lose then I get to keep your pound. We’ve been keeping this tab for every single league game since Coventry were relegated from the Premier League. That’s 12 seasons worth of games. Today is the day we settle the tab – how much money do you think you owe me?

You can find the answer at the end of this post, although the leading question above should give you a clue. Of course you’re going to owe the bookmaker money, not even the most positive City fan would see backing City with your hard earned as a road to riches. Last season, our first in League One in the modern era, did at least return a profit. A pound on City to win every league game would have seen you in profit by May to the tune of £1.84. Not enough for a bus to Northampton but still a better return than you would have seen if you’d have backed Man City, Arsenal or Villa to do the same.

Any idea where your £1 should have gone last year? It was Yeovil; a £1 win on each of Yeovil’s games would have seen you in profit by £24.20 at the end of the season and that should make sense from the bettor’s point of view. Yeovil were a relatively underrated team in 2012/13, they won plenty of games last year when the odds suggested they wouldn’t. The bigger the odds they won at; the greater the profit you would have made, and making profit isn’t a bad ambition when it comes to betting. In terms of long term strategy, identifying those teams underrated by the bookmaker will see you in profit more seasons than not. So what chance Coventry this year?

Most bookmakers started pricing up the League One winners market once the final ball of the 2012/13 season was kicked. Around mid-May you could have backed Coventry to win the division at around 20/1. That looked a fair price at the time; we had a season in the league under our belts but some strong teams had come down from The Championship so the market looked pretty competitive. Relegation wasn’t at the forefront of many fans minds at the time but a close season of owner/landlord disputes, ground share drama and potential points deductions not only drove down the mood in the City but consequently drove down the price.

The below graphic is an interesting one. It plots the best odds against time for Coventry to go down:


First thing to note is its steady decline. You could easily mistake it for a graph plotting home attendances or, if you turn your head to the right, it looks a bit like Tim Fisher’s profile no? This snapshot was taken the day after our opening day defeat at Crawley, by which time we were 10 points from safety. From an opening of 10/1 in early June you can now back us at 4/7 for an exit through the trapdoor into League Two. That early June price stayed pretty constant until news of our impending move to Northampton came through in early July, also around the time stories that ACL were likely to reject the CVA started to materialise. Once the prospect of a 15 point penalty being incurred for liquidation was muted we never saw 5/1 again let alone 10/1. Once the penalty was imposed, bookmakers were ahead of the game and cut the price accordingly – we went from around 4/1 to 2/1 in the space of a few hours which pours cold water on some sensationalist statements I saw on Twitter (although the bare facts wouldn’t have got as many RT’s admittedly). Don’t stare at the graph for too long, it will depress you even more.

So where can you make money backing City this year? Well we did finish top of one table last season – we were the first to score in 27 of our 46 games (58%) although this did drop to 36% in the 11 games since Pressley took over. Not winning games when we take the lead is something of obsession with City teams regardless of who’s in charge though. Most bookmakers will price up a ‘Come from behind and win or draw’ market, you can normally back our opponents at around 4/1 which would have paid out 13 times last year.

Season Points betting is a different way of getting involved over the course of a campaign. Spread Betting companies will post a spread of points that they think a club will get in 46 games (don’t worry, deductions don’t count, just the points earned on the pitch). Coventry’s points spread lies at 56-58 points. What do you think? Last year we picked up 55, are we a weaker side than last year? We could conceivably be a lot better by the time the transfer window closes now the embargo has been lifted (sort of). The great thing about these markets is you don’t have to take a position from now until the end of the season. If we do well then the spread will increase meaning you close out for a nice profit, it’s a big if I guess.

Leon Clarke is 20/1 to finish as the League’s top scorer, which could turn into a better proposition if he gets a move away from the club I suppose, while only hopeless romantics will take some of the 1000/1 for an FA Cup triumph. The JPT might be a better bet – 40/1 and by my reckoning we’ve been placed in the Southern Section this year AND we get a bye in the first round. Brentford and Peterborough look the toughest tasks in our half of the draw but they’ll be busy chasing promotion won’t they?

Back to the question I posed earlier. If you had backed a City win in every league game since we left the Premier League, how much of a loss would you have recorded? The good news is you only owe me £99.60; the bad news is it turns out you owe ‘Gavin Horsfall Ltd’ £60m.

Be lucky.

You can find Gavin on Twitter @ghorsfall

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