Betting Odds On Footballers Heading to Manchester United

Two things that I love about the Premier League are the transfer window and the rampant, unashamed culture of gambling on sports in England.

In the United States, we have our trade deadlines for American sports, but they never quite reach the dizzying level of speculation that the transfer windows do. Further, the trades are so darn complex with players moving both ways, future draft picks and whatnot that it’s hard to have knee-jerk assessments of the transaction. Soccer transfers are easy to comprehend because it is just trading money-for-player (usually).

Also, in the somewhat puritanical USA, we just don’t talk about gambling on sports all that much. That’s why fantasy sports and NCAA tournament brackets are so popular: It’s a legal way for average Americans to gamble on sport. But, my goodness, the Premier League is just something else. If you’re an American and you’ve never perused the gambling possibilities on SkyBet, Paddy Power, bwin, etc., I encourage you to do so now. American minds explode at the possibilities.

Being a general believer in the power of “prediction markets” and a fan of Manchester United, I decided to skim through the current transfer odds on the SkyBet site. Not so much because I want to gamble (because real money is involved), but you can start to see the truth of what really might happen for United during this transfer window.  I encourage you to do the same for your own favorite club.

SkyBet doesn’t make it easy as they list transfer odds player-by-player rather than team-by-team (if they listed the odds as I do below, even chronic gamblers would demand better odds), but I have decompiled the United odds for your reading pleasure.  There are two quick observations:

1). There is really zero gambling value in that list.  Clearly United fans the world-over are gambling with their hearts and SkyBet is gladly taking their money.  If you looked at these odds, it would imply that United is buying 5-6 players in this window when most fans are probably expecting 1-2.  We should all quit our day jobs and start offering bets to Manchester United fans.

2). It is probably a rough ranking of priority and and likelihood of players arriving at Old Trafford.  Once you get finished laughing at the fact that there are United fans gambling at 12/1 on Cristiano Ronaldo coming back to Old Trafford this January, there is still some utility in this list.  Even if you think that gambling on Ilkay Gundogan at 2/1 is insane (it is!), he is more likely to be bought than players with longer odds. You could also consider it a global-crowdsourcing of United fan’s identifying the club’s weaknesses and needs.  It basically implies that United will buy a left back (Baines or Coentrao) and 1-2 midfielders from the list of Koke/Gundogan/Herrera/Vidal/Sneijder/Lallana. That’s probably about right.

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