Backing the 0-0

We’ve already discussed the value that can be found backing horses at big prices in our blog post about pricewise but the tipster currently sitting at the top of our tipster table is Crackpot who selectively backs the 0-0 score line in football matches. His profit is almost double that of pricewise and his ROI is currently a very impressive 27.25% and I think it’s worth investigating this strategy further.

Backing the 0-0 is a very unpopular strategy and laying the 0-0 much more common. Let’s face it no one actually wants to watch a football match with no goals and few of us can remember the last 0-0 we watched. Let’s face it they’re not very memorable! They do happen however but do they happen more than the odds suggest and are they more likely when Andy Carroll is playing?

Crackpot’s ROI is 27.25% after 189 bets

Crackpot has managed to find 24 0-0’s out of 189 which doesn’t sound particularly impressive.  It is after all a strike rate of only 13.3%. With 0-0’s usually priced at 9.0 to 12.0 indicating a likely percentage of 8 to 11% this doesn’t seem like  a huge edge but at these prices the effect is very powerful and his overall profit is 580.50 units (from a 10 unit stake). As mentioned earlier this is a return of 27.25%! To get profits of this kind from odds on selections would be more difficult to achieve and require much more capital.

Crackpots winning prices range from 6.5 to 19.0 (2 extremes) with the average price 11.2. His wins have come from all over Europe but the most fruitful has been England and France.

I decided to take a look at the 0-0 percentages from these 2 leagues in the last 5 seasons.

England – % of matches ending 0-0

Prem Champ L1 L2
2008/09 11.05% 9.6% 5.8% 7.79%
2009/10 8.42% 7.25% 8.15% 7.25%
20010/11 6.58% 7.25% 5.8% 8.7%
20011/12 7.11% 7.43% 8.15% 6.34%
20012/13 9.21% 6.7% 6.88% 8.88%
AVERAGE 8.47% 7.65% 6.96% 7.79%


France – % of matches ending 0-0

Ligue 1 Ligue 2
2008/09 10.53% 10.26%
2009/10 8.95% 11.05%
20010/11 11.58% 11.05%
20011/12 7.11% 10.26%
20012/13 8.68% 10.79%
AVERAGE 9.37% 10.68%


Over 10% of games finish 0-0 in Ligue 2

In England the top division appears to be best for backing the 0-0 score line but in France league 2 is better than league 1. I think this is down to the style of football that is played in England and the 0-0 is generally more likely in France who play more of a patient style of football. This then means that in lower divisions where strikers and attacking play poorer the 0-0 is more likely. I think is likely to be the case in Italy too. The French second division is by far the best for backing the 0-0 with over 10% of matches finishing this way. If you can consistently get odds of 10.0 or more on the 0-0 in this league you should be in the money!

The final percentage varies a fair bit from season to season and one has to remember that a league season only consists of a few hundred games and each season on its own is not a big sample size. The variance with such bets is obviously pretty big and the losing streaks with such bets can be very demoralizing but by staking sensibly and not paying too much attention to the weekly P/L it’s possible to gets some big returns on your investments.  Remember Crackpots’ average price was 11.2 which indicates just over 9% likelihood of a 0-0. Across the 2 leagues this looks pretty accurate with France slightly above this on average and England slightly below. So Crackpot doesn’t seem to be getting prices that are well above what they should be on average and it’s clear that being selective is important here.

Good time to back 0-0 in Championship this season

Crackpot doesn’t back 0-0’s blind and takes care in looking at the stats to discover which games are likely to be low scoring or more likely to be low scoring than the odds suggest. Odds on unpopular selections like the 0-0 score line are generally pretty accurate as we’ve demonstrated and they don’t get backed down like odds on shots do. So it doesn’t take much to do slightly better than the odds and beat the market. I should add that currently the English Championship has only seen 1 0-0 after 59 games (over 10%) and it could be a good time to selectively back the 0-0 in this league.

It sounds obvious but when looking for value in the 0-0 markets look out for teams that are struggling for goals but also teams scoring the odd goals but who aren’t having many shots on target. Matches that involve sides that will set up not to lose usually against superior opposition are also good candidates. The recent 0-0 draw between Cardiff and Everton was certainly not unexpected for example with Everton lacking striking options and now playing a more patient style under new manager Martinez.

Draw offers the best value on average

If the 0-0’s too patient a game for you then perhaps try the draw. In a blog post I did a while back I proved that the draw is the most accurately priced outcome based on the best price available from the bookmakers for Premier League matches. There are some sites on the internet that says the draw doesn’t offer any better odds than any of the other two outcomes but the below suggests otherwise. Backing it blind would do you the least damage of the 3 selections and in the last 2 out of 5 seasons you would have made a slight profit. Backing the home win blindly was the next best with aways proving to be the worst value on average. So if you are unsure about the outcome of a premier league match go with the draw or failing that err on the home side.

Here are the stats I generated from football data to prove this. It shows the average implied percentage of the best odds available compared the actual percentage of the outcome and the difference:

Home stats:

Season Avg Home Odds % Actual Home % Diff
2008/09 46.16 45.53 -0.63
2009/10 46.67 50.79 +4.12
20010/11 46.61 47.11 +0.5
20011/12 46.75 45 -1.75
20012/13 46.69 43.68 -3.01
AVERAGE 46.56 46.42 -0.15

Away stats:

Season Avg Away Odds % Actual Away % Diff
2008/09 29.68 28.95 -0.73
2009/10 30.47 23.95 -6.52
20010/11 29.11 23.68 -5.43
20011/12 29.62 24.47 -5.15
20012/13 29.98 27.89 -2.09
AVERAGE 29.77 25.79 -3.984

Draw stats:

Season Avg Draw Odds % Actual Draw % Diff
2008/09 27.08 25.53 -1.55
2009/10 25.82 25.26 -0.56
20010/11 26.36 29.21 +2.85
20011/12 25.59 24.47 -1.12
20012/13 25.89 28.42 +2.53
AVERAGE 26.15 26.58 +0.43


Make sure stakes can survive long losing runs

It is important to reiterate the importance of sensible staking when backing such unfavourable outcomes. You are going to experience long losing streaks so expect them and remain patient. It is likely that you will need to play with much lower stakes than you usually use. Not many of us can afford to keep putting £10 on our bets after 30 or 40 losers so think about what is a realistic amount for you to carry out this strategy. If you use Betfair you may want to take a look at our blog post that demonstrates how it’s possible to bet less than the £2 minimum stake on Betfair too.

I have access to all the data from stored in a database which I’m able to query in seconds. If anyone would like some more 0-0 stats or similar let me know and I can get these for you.