As we explore the landscape of football betting for the new season, two key questions arise: How can we compare new and established teams? And how can we keep our betting system flexible throughout a season?
These questions aren’t just theoretical — they’re the challenges I faced integrating Burnley, Sheffield United, and Luton Town into the Fickle Football Fan Formula.
Here’s how I approached setting up my system for the new Premier League season.
Inducting Newly Promoted Teams
It’s tough to gauge how newly promoted Championship teams stack up against Premier League regulars. They haven’t faced each other in recent league competitions, and cup matches (if any) aren’t enough to make a fair judgement. Some creativity is required to solve this problem.
The Championship Winner
The approach I’ve devised so far assumes that the Championship winner holds a similar skill level to the team that placed 18th (3rd from bottom) in the previous Premier League season.
This means that Burnley, the victors of the 2022-23 Championship season, are considered to be of comparable quality to Leicester City, who were relegated with 34 points. This hypothesis posits that Burnley would hypothetically have achieved 34 points had they participated in the previous Premier League season.
This estimate might seem harsh given Burnley’s emphatic Championship run. However, it’s unwise to expect an instant rise to the top tier of the Premier League—it’s a big step up.
Ranking 2nd & 3rd Championship Teams
Using the same principle, I ranked the 2nd (Sheffield United) and 3rd (Luton Town) Championship teams as 19th and 20th in the Premier League.
I’ve also taken this one step further by accounting for the point differences between the three promoted teams:
- Sheffield United concluded the Championship season with 91 points, equivalent to 90.1% of Burnley’s points. Accordingly, their Premier League points tally is calculated as 91.2% of 34, resulting in 31 points.
- Luton Town amassed 80 points in this Championship, which is 79.2% of Burnley’s total. Consequently, their Premier League points tally is calculated as 79.2% of 34, equalling 27 points.
This simplistic method enabled me to approach the upcoming season with a reasonable understanding of the hierarchical order of all teams, as well as the gaps between them.
Of course, this method relies entirely on league table standings and ignores potential — which is more subjective and a lot harder to measure.
Adapting Through The Season
At the beginning of a new football season, results are notoriously unpredictable. Transfers are still occurring, players are settling in and the effects of the summer are slowly wearing off. So, it’s wise to stabilise your betting system by incorporating a sufficient set of past data for this period.
That said, it’s equally important to acknowledge changes and major shifts occurring as the season progresses.
Here’s how I maintain a balanced approach.
Use A Sufficient Historical Data Set
Consider this hypothetical scenario: the recently promoted Sheffield United surges to the top of the league table within the initial five games.
Such short-term fluctuations often result from randomness and hold little significance. Consequently, it’s unwise for your betting system to draw overarching conclusions based on such a meager dataset. Therefore I suggest using a whole season of past data as a basis for the new season. Anything older can be too outdated for assessing specific teams/players (which are subject to constant change).
While some bettors might lean towards analysing only the latter part of the prior season, I’m inclined to avoid this approach. Teams often experience a fluctuation in performance during this phase of the season, influenced by their ambitions, schedules and physical states. For instance, a team could slack off once they know they are safe from relegation. Another team could push on because they still had a chance of achieving a European spot.
Starting out with the entire previous year’s data helps to ‘level out’ those end of season abnormalities, giving a well-rounded view of a team’s expected performance.
Incorporate New Findings
Consider this: Leicester finished 14th in the 2014-15 season and won the Premier League title the following season. So your betting system needs to acknowledge recent changes to be effective.
For the Fickle Fan Formula, I chose to introduce a “take over” point after 19 games: the moment where only the current season’s results influence the selection method. This means that the importance given to last year’s results gradually erodes as the season progresses until half way through where it no longer has any impact.
So, if a low-rated club is doing well by Christmas, my system views them as a serious competitor rather than holding onto a historical view. The same principle goes for a highly-rated club that is struggling in the current campaign — it will acknowledge their dip.
This approach appears to improve accuracy. It certainly helps to eliminate bias associated with teams that performed differently in the past.
It’ll be interesting to see whether my betting system performs best before or after the mid-point of the season. Check out the Fickle Football Fan Formula to learn more about the selection method it uses.
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