A former general of the United States army, Douglas MacArthur, once said after successfully helping the allied troops to victory in World War II that ‘you are remembered for the rules you break.’
Now, that little titbit may work well in chest-thumping, fist-pumping America, but if you follow that mantra when placing your bets in the United Kingdom then we’re afraid you can expect to come a cropper.
You see, football betting has its very own rules and regulations, and while these are available in the terms & conditions of your chosen bookmaker, we thought it would be easier to compile these in one place for your convenience.
So here are some of the main football betting rules that could help shape your wagering activity:
Full Time Result
First things first, there is an important distinction here: Full Time Result bets are settled according to the score after 90 minutes, plus any injury time that may occur. This is also the case in knockout style matches such as the latter rounds of the Champions League and international tournaments. Here, if you want to bet on a team to win by any means necessary, e.g. in 90 minutes, in extra time or via penalties, then check out the relevant ‘To Qualify’ markets.
An example would be to imagine that Manchester United scored a 96th minute winner (as has often been the case at Old Trafford over the years). This goal may not have come within the first 90 minutes of the game, but it did come in ‘normal time’, and is thus relevant to the settling of Full Time Result bets.
Two other things to note here: the results as published by the Press Association are what bookmakers go by, although if the PA makes a mistake then most bookies are unwilling to settle at the correct score. All markets have to be settled on the day that the game is played (other than in instances of postponement/abandonment, which we cover in more depth later in this guide), and any results that are subsequently altered, e.g. if one of the teams is caught playing an ineligible player, then the settlement of the market remains intact regardless.
Goalscorer Betting Rules
Back a player and if they stick the ball in the onion bag then your bet wins, it should be that simple, shouldn’t it? Well, yes, perhaps, but as with everything in life there are rules and caveats to adhere to.
There are a number of different goalscorer markets of course, and each of these has its own conditions. In the First/Last Goalscorer bracket, if your chosen player does not take part in the match then bets are void and your stake will be refunded. In the case of First Goalscorer wagers, if your chosen player comes on as a substitute after the opener has been scored then again your bet is void. However, for Anytime Goalscorer wagers, should your player enter the field at any time – even in the 90th minute – then they are deemed to have played and as such any stakes will be lost if they don’t find the net.
In the case of pesky abandonments, such as a waterlogged pitch after the match has started or deranged Albanian supporters deciding to fly a drone onto the pitch (as they did against Serbia in a Euro 2016 qualifier), then any relevant goalscorer bets will be settled at the point of abandonment, e.g. if your player scored the first then you will still be paid as normal.
As far as Scorecasts are concerned, well, normal rules apply. If your player doesn’t feature in the match at all then your bet is void. If he comes off the bench after the first bet is scored then your stake for the goalscorer part is lost, and the correct scoreline part of your wager is then played out as a single.
Remember, all goalscorer bets are subject to Press Association classification, so if a goal is contentious as to who got the final touch then the PA report will count. Any subsequent amendments made by the dubious goals panel are not relevant to goals bets and original verdicts will stand.
Quite simply, own goals count when to comes to settling Match Result, Correct Score, Both Teams to Score, Over/Under, Handicap bets and all markets where the final score is of relevance.
Where own goals don’t count, however, is in the Goalscorer markets. If the first goal of the game is an own goal, then all First Goalscorer wagers roll over to the next goal. If the match finishes 1-0, then unfortunately ‘No Goalscorer’ is the outcome and stakes are lost.
For Last Goalscorer bets, if the last goal of the game is an O.G then the previous goal thus becomes the last goal relevant to this market. The same is the case for Scorecasts, so if you have Harry Kane to score first with Spurs to win 2-0 and the first strike is an own goal, then your bet will be a winner.
You might not think that a dead heat is possible in football, but think about top goalscorer bets, these can be liable to a situation where two or more players net the same amount. This would then become a dead heat.
Here, dead heat rules are utilised. This can be quite complex to understand, but basically, your return is calculated in the following way:
(Total stake divided by the number of players in the dead heat) x the odds
Here’s an example:
You have wagered £10 on Harry Kane to be Premier League top goalscorer at 5/1. He ties with Sergio Aguero, who was available at 3/1. So our maths on Kane is (£10/2) x 5/1 = £30.
Abandoned Matches, Postponements, etc
We have a full page dedicated to this subject here but if you just want to know the basics then read on:
Firstly it is important to note the distinction between an abandoned game – i.e. one that has kicked off but been brought to a premature end for some reason; and a postponement – a match that has been rescheduled prior to its start.
Postponed matches are easier to police for bookmakers; all bets are void unless the game in question kicks off before midnight on the day in question. This is a very rare occurrence, although an example would be a punter placing an ante-post wager way in advance of the action only to find that it has been rescheduled for TV coverage. If the match is moved to later in the same day, then all bets remain valid. If it is moved to another date, then stakes are returned.
The rules are slightly different for abandoned games, and really it depends on the nature of your wager as to whether it counts or not. So if you have bet on a half-time result, for instance, and the match is abandoned in the 60th minute, then your original bet still stands. In the same way, first goalscorer bets will be settled if the game is abandoned prior to the first goal going in. All other bets are void if the match has not reached its natural conclusion unless the match resumes on the same date. This can occur in the case of delays caused by floodlight failure, thick fog, heavy rain etc.
One final point worth noting; when the venue of a match is changed after the odds have been published, all subsequent bets will be void.