UK bookies, liable to lose out big-time if England won the World Cup, now look set to benefit in the long term from the team’s success.
Earlier this week, we wrote about the sports betting companies’ liabilities if England won the World Cup – estimated in some places at over £100m ($132m). Mario Mandzukic’s goal last night meant that Croatia will play France in the final – but the success of Gareth Southgate’s team could well be good news for bookmakers in the long term.
For 68 minutes on Wednesday night, it really did look like “football was coming home”. England was leading Croatia 1-0 thanks to Kieran Trippier’s free-kick and the Three Lions were just 22 minutes away from the World Cup final. Then Ivan Perisic equalized – and suddenly Croatia was on top. Then – with 11 minutes of extra time remaining – England failed to clear the ball, Mandzukic pounced, and Gareth Southgate’s team were out.
… And online sports betting companies breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Before the World Cup kicked off, the pre-tournament favorites were Brazil – but they looked unconvincing in the group stages and went out to Belgium in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, England had beaten Colombia and Sweden to set up a semi-final with Croatia – and bets on them were starting to snowball.
Before the Sweden game – when England was around 6-to-1 to lift the trophy – Nick Barnett, finance director of price comparison site Oddschecker, said: “Current defensive pricing is not putting the England faithful off and, coupled with long-term liabilities, this has left the industry staring at a nine-figure loss.”
With Sweden easily despatched 2-0, those liabilities can only have increased as the Croatia game approached – so while the UK bookmakers are making the right patriotic noises, they will be feeling very relieved this morning. England captain Harry Kane is almost certain to win the Golden Boot for top goalscorer at the competition, but bookmakers’ liabilities on that market will be insignificant compared to England winning the tournament.
Increased interest in England
In fact, it could be a double whammy of good news for the sports betting companies. England’s success has led to a clear re-connect between the team and the fans. Interest in England’s future games – and its qualification for Euro2020 – will be massively increased. That will translate into an increased betting turnover on the qualification games and on the next tournament.
Croatia, meanwhile, moves on to Sunday’s final against France. They’re a general 15-to-8 to lift the trophy, with Les Bleus hot favorites at 1-to-2 thanks to the power of Paul Pogba and the pace and raw talent of teenage wonderkid, Kylian Mbappe.
Premier League season
After the World Cup final, we will be less than a month away from the start of the UK Premier League season on Friday, August 10 when Manchester United hosts Leicester City – and Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young meet England teammates Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy.
But those England players will have an important date in their minds – November 22, when the draw for the qualifying games for Euro2020 takes place, with the first matches due to be played in March 2019. For England – and for the sports betting companies – it all begins again…