Leicester City’s Absurdly Remarkable March To the Top
Leicester City won the English Premier League Championship. There odds were 5000-1 to begin the season. Wait. What? Yeah. 5000-1. Do you know how ridiculous that is? Here’s how:
Leicester City Is Like….
Arash Markazi notes bets (legal in England, not the U.S.) offered at 5000-1 odds by William Hill: Elvis is found alive. Yeti or Loch Ness Monster is proven to exist. Christmas is the warmest day of the year in England. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian name their next child Sinner. Kim Kardashian becomes the U.S. president in 2020. Barack Obama plays cricket for England after he leaves Oval Office.
Better Chance Than Leicester City
Hugh Hefner admitting that he’s a virgin is 1000-1 at bookmaker Ladbroke’s. Victor Mather points to Mexico, Senegal and Puerto Rico to win the Olympic men’s basketball gold medal as 3000-1. The United States is a prohibitive favorite, of course. If you bet 12 pounds on the Americans with Ladbrokes and are right, you will get your 12 pounds back plus just one more. To even make the Olympics, these three teams have to get through qualifying tournaments against international powers like Italy, France and Serbia. Then they would have to find a way to the gold without big-name players.
Bookies Not Busted
Greg Wood comments on the odds against Leicester City’s success being so huge that the normal rules of betting and bookmaking did not apply. 5,000-1 chances that actually turn out to be chances are nonexistent, and there was no way to get enough money on the books on the other 19 teams to cover the potential loss.
While the people who got 5,000-1 are what we think about, from the bookies’ point of view, the biggest liabilities were accrued at around 100-1 to 500-1 when some betters started to consider the chance that Leicester City might be sustainable.
Leicester’s 5,000-1 title victory was not achieved solely by the outstanding performances of Claudio Ranieri’s team. It also depended on every other favorite underperforming significantly over the course of the season, with the inevitable result that, almost without fail, bookies cleaned up on the coupons from one weekend to the next.
Football backers are creatures of habit. They like to bet the “big” teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, and they try to overcome the inevitable short odds by stitching their fortunes together in accumulator bets. If just one team fails to win, the whole bet goes down, and this season, the big names have all been failing with metronomic regularity.
The collective underperformance of the “big” teams is evident in the placed runners behind Leicester. Tottenham started the campaign at 150-1, while West Ham, who could yet sneak into the top four, were 3,000-1.