Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

The Punter: Everton will win title... well, sort of

Handicap betting on the Premier League is always fascinating as it gives teams a head start before a ball is kicked.

All the odds are the same for each team and the higher the handicap mark, the less real points may be needed to win this particular race.

That's why the winners are generally a team who do much better than anticipated as occurred with handicap winners Newcastle United last season.

Many misunderstand the market, thinking that their selection just has to beat the total attained by the eventual champions. Not so. They must also beat everyone else as well and that's why it's generally 16/1 the field.

The actual points attained are added to the handicap mark. For example, last year Newcastle were given 37 points and their actual tally of 65 meant they ran away with the handicap league, totalling 102. Manchester City were second on 95, having a six point start, while Manchester United — who were on scratch (zero) — totalled 89 in fifth spot with Norwich third and Swansea fourth.

City are off scratch this time but the winners are normally in the mid-90s or higher, so the Citizens can be ruled out as can United with only a three point advantage.

Liverpool were only given 12 points last season but have been pushed up to 21 now and that must bring them into the picture as 70 to 75 points in real terms would take them close.

Everton did well to claim seventh place in the Premier League last season, just behind Chelsea, and given 28 points on the handicap — four more than previously — make most appeal as they will be fancied to bag around 65 points.

If doing so, the Toffees would finish on a total of 93.