Dark horses, sleepers and teams to avoid this football season

Today we released SBC’s Essential Guide to Football Betting stacked with free systems, tipster and analysis for the 2011/2012 football season.

We couldn’t fit all this content in a single edition, so as a special bonus we have made available one of the sections for all to read.

Editor in chief Greg Gordon asked a selection of the football experts that we monitor to provide some ideas on dark horses, sleepers and teams to avoid in this coming football season….

Dark Horses, Sleepers and Teams To Avoid

Having covered The Premiership, We set our caucus of top tipsters the onerous task of unearthing value bets hidden with the morass of Europe’s football markets.

Here is our rundown of the best long-term wagers on offer, those teams to oppose and teams we should side with.


Like Scott Armstrong of The Sportsman, Greg Gordon of Scottish Football Bets, and Phil Brown of Betting Laying Club have taken a shine to Brighton.

Phil Says: “I feel Brighton under the guidance of Gus Poyet will give the Championship a real go this season at 20/1 and expect their big signing Mackail-Smith to score plenty of goals.”

Greg Gordon from Scottish Football Bets has had an early chance to see a number of English clubs north of the border. In general, he has not liked what he has seen.

He says: “Outwith my leagues, I have seen Preston and Walsall in preseason and albeit on one viewing, I expect neither team to do particularly well. It wouldn’t surprise me to see either or both teams involved in a relegation scrap however, as I don’t know their respective rivals too well, I can’t be overly confident with that prediction. It is just a bit of a feeling based on watching Scottish and English sides competing in preseason over the years.

However the team I am really warming to is Brighton at 20/1 e/w. Brighton are backed by the riches of pro-punter and poker legend Tony Bloom. I know the Chief Scout at Brighton Tony Collins and the vibes for Gus Poyet’s men are all very positive. I think the striker Mackail-Smith most have a good chance of landing the top scorer prize (each way) and he is a nice price to do so at 18/1.” Ironically, given they are largely bank-rolled by Tony Bloom’s great betting syndicate rival Martin Benham of Smartodds, the other side I am warm on in England are Uwe Rosler’s Brentford in League One. Prior to Rosler’s appointment, Rangers’ skipper Davie Weir was interviewed for the manager’s job at Griffin Park and he gave me the inside track on a pretty impressive and well-funded setup. The likes of Niall McGinn (Celtic), Shaleum Logan (Man City) and Marcel Eger (ex-St Pauli) appeal as decent signings. Huddersfield, a team who excelled here in Scotland in preseason, may be the team to beat but The Bees must rate a decent each way shout at 20/1 ew. Their manager Rosler, has always struck me as an appealingly charismatic figure and he will being fresh ideas to Brentford that could, initially at least, catch opponents on the hop.

In League One, PCB of the Football Antepost Service says: “Charlton look to have bought wisely and look to have a smart young boss in Chris Powell. Of the summer arrivals, Mikel Alsono, brother of Xabi, signed from Tenerife has sparked the greatest curiosity but Danny Green, who returns to Charlton from Dagenham, is a winger with a good reputation and could be the ace in their pack.”


Greg Gordon of Scottish Football Bets says: “In Scottish Division Three I expect Peterhead to make their money tell in a league where the top two (Peterhead and Alloa) dominate the market. It isn’t greatly original to suggest a title favourite is underrated but I think, thanks to bags of experience and the goals of the single-minded Rory McAllister, they can be very reliable week to week. I can’t see past Peterhead in Scottish Division Three for the reasons mentioned above. I think they are still very much good value at 15/8 (2.87). I rate them a 6/4 (2.50) chance at this stage.

As far as a sleeper is concerned, I reckon Airdrie could be the kind of team to regularly put a stick in the spokes of supposedly stronger rivals. They have a shrewd manager in Jimmy Boyle, some smart new additions this season in terms of experience and quality and their plastic pitch should allow them to maintain momentum during the poor weather spells. I don’t expect them to win anything but I expect Airdrie to be a team I can back selectively at decent prices.

In terms of being overrated both Queens Park and Livingston, while decent enough, have done nothing thus far to justify the hype.

Livi have smashed two off colour lower division sides so far but they are yet to play any competitive games in Division One (where their key striker Russell has never enjoyed success before).

QP, tipped up as an e/w bet in The Racing Post and by Footyinsider amongst others will be simply glad to reach the play-offs. The Spiders lost two key men in Millen and McBride in the summer and so far, the plan is to plug the gaps with youth. The Hampden-based side have a talented roster and the best manager in the league in Gardner Speirs but the amateurs are crying out for some wise old head’s experience to replace Millen. Furthermore, Queens, as amateurs, are forbidden from paying wages or transfer fees (which is an impediment to SPL loan deals) which might otherwise provide a solution for them. If you consider that, at the top of the betting, Alloa and Peterhead are throwing a lot of cash behind their managers, when QP’s youngsters play for expenses then it really isn’t a level playing field this season. Peterhead, in Rory McAllister, boast an £800 pounds a week striker who turned down full-time football in The SPL and in England to finish his apprenticeship in July, and a new squad packed with lower league leading lights. Within that context, Queens Park seems like an odd bet to have, to me when they may be effectively competing for third place.



If you are looking for a straightforward bet with a decent return you should look no further than Germany according to Goran Trpevski of Goran’s Winners.

He says: “In the Bundesliga you’ve pretty much got a safe bet in backing both Bayern and Dortmund to win the league. You can get somewhere around 35-38% ROI depending on what bookies you take the bet with, no matter who wins.

Bayern have invested well and Dortmund play the best football in the league. There are no real challengers and that looks like a sound play if you Dutch both selections to win the same profit.You win no matter who wins then.”

Another option is backing Bayern full stakes and then covering with Dortmund.

Goran says: “With that you get over 50% ROI if Bayern wins and you get your total stake back if Dortmund wins it.”

However, Football Elite’s Matt Love is not so sure about the wisdom of following the Bavarian super-club week to week. He says: “Bayern Munich are almost always overrated odds wise due to them being the one truly “big” club in their league. They are underpriced 90% of the time and especially so in their away games.”


In Serie A Football Value have pinpointed Napoli as a side that could be underrated again this season, coming as they do from the unfashionable south.

They say: “Napoli ended up third the past season in Serie A, and for a long time they were challenging both AC Milan and Internazionale at the top. So far nobody indispensable has left and they have managed to sign Inler from Udinese as well as Mario Santana, Federico Fernandez and Miguel Britos. They are currently rated fifth according to the bookmakers Serie A winner betting odds but it wouldn’t surprise me if they achieve a top three position once again.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Goran’s Winners believe Roma could be in for an underwhelming season under Luis Enrique, a Spaniard from Barcelona and American owners.

Goran says: I would not quite say Roma are overrated, but I would say that the dreams of Roma won’t happen. I just dont see Luis Enrique making Roma play the Barca way.

There are a couple of reasons for that. Roma can’t press the ball like Barca do as they are lazy collectively and individually, Goran says.

“Krkic is a bad buy. He will have it very difficult in Rome and I see him resigned to warming the subs’ bench after a few games. And that is despite him being a big signing for Roma. Roma is a hot place and a hot club – maybe too hot for Enrique after all its his first stint in charge at such a big club. I don’t see him handling the situation with the key players there simply due to inexperience. Luis Enrique will go (presumably fired) before the season ends, is my guess. Unfortunately.”


With their goalkeeper and playmaker now both resident in Manchester, it seems safe to assume that the Spanish capital’s second club could be due to suffer as the consequence of their latest selling spree.

Football Value certainly think Athletico Madrid might struggle in La Liga this season. Athletico Madrid have maintained a relatively high standard the last couple of years, but with many of the key players in the team moving on in their careers  there will be big gaps to fill. “Goalkeeper David de Gea has already moved to Man United, striker Aguero seems to be on his way to Man City and Forlan is not as reliable as he used to be. There have been a couple of new signings but it will obviously be hard for them to have as big impact on the team as the leaving players have had.”


Non-League expert Skeeve says there significant value around in the Blue Square Premier: He says: “Newport have a better chance than the current ante-post odds suggest. They are 17.00 (16/1) at both Bet365 and the notorious BetFred and that looks pretty good. The price on York (13.00 (12/1) at William Hill) looks very good too.
 Luton are once again the biggest favorites, for the third consecutive year, and 4.00 (3/1) (4.50 (7/2) at league sponsors Blue Square), doesn’t really look like a value price. There are plenty of better ante-post bets out there. Newport at 17.00, York at 13.00 and even Darlington at11.00 (10/1) all look like very healthy long-term bets”.

But before you rush of to place your non-league bets take heed of Skeeve’s warning when he says modestly: “I won’t have official ante-post bets this season, I’ve been terrible with all long-term bets for the last three years.”

The value antepost bet of the season, according to Matt Love of Football Elite is down in the Conferenceerence North (the league below The Conferenceerence Premier, officially known as Blue Square Bet North).

He says: “Harrogate Town have spent quite a lot of money by Conference North standards and it has gone fairly unnoticed. I would assume the main reason they have slipped under the radar is that their spending has been spread out over the last six or seven months rather than a big eye-catching Crawley-esque spending spree in the summer.

Harrogate were officially taken over by multi-millionaire Irving Weaver last month but in reality he has been putting money into the club for a while now as his son Simon took over as manager last season. I know the Weavers a bit (Simon used to be captain of my local club Ilkeston before he took the Harrogate job) and he’s been preparing for a managerial career for a while. He’s got the attributes to be a good manager and with his family’s significant financial backing I’d be surprised if they don’t make a success of it at some point.

They are certainly putting a decent side together on paper for this season. Between January and now they have signed some very decent players. They have recently signed last season’s Conference North top scorer Paul Brayson from Blyth. He’s scored 60 goals in 90 appearances for Blyth. They also nicked last season player of the year, midfielder Michael Tait. Tait said when signing for the club “Simon Weaver is putting together a very strong squad for the coming season. It shows the club is intent on mounting a serious challenge on the league.” They’ve also signed 2 of the players that helped Alfreton win this league last season in Ian Ross and Laurie Wilson. That’s on top of the very decent standard players they added in the second half of last season. I appreciate these names won’t mean anything to most people but you’ll have to take my word for it that they are good players for this level.

Their competition in the Conference North also isn’t as strong as it may have been in other seasons. Southport who were relegated from the Conference Premier last season were favourites for the league but they have been reprieved from relegation after Rushden and Diamonds went bust. Alfreton and Telford have been the Conference North’s most consistent teams in the last few years always up in the top six most seasons. Both finally won promotion last season so are out the way this year.

A couple of last season’s better sides, Eastwood and Corby, have lost their financial backers so will have vastly weaker squads this season. Guiseley (who lost in the play off final last year) may also be losing their backer as he is involved in trying to takeover Bradford City.

Pre-season favourites Halifax could be dangerous but 7/2 for a newly promoted side doesn’t tempt me much I have to say. Altrincham, Nuneaton and Boston could be dangers too but all have doubts hanging over them for one reason or another.

All in all 20/1 looks a huge price. I’d have them at about 6’s myself. Money is such a difference maker at this level and those that have it have a big advantage over the rest who are struggling to even pay their bills.”

For the full Essential Betting Guide click here.

Contributing Tipsters: