Nigel AdkinsNigel Adkins is now 4/11 with Sky Bet to be next permanent Leeds United manager.

The former Southampton manager has been considered the frontrunner to succeed Neil Warnock ever since the markets opened, but he started Sunday at 4/1 before his odds fell dramatically, finishing the day odds-on (4/11) with Sky Bet.

So what caused such a sudden shift, and does this mean Leeds United have already found Warnock’s replacement? To determine that, you have to understand the methods bookmakers use to calculate their odds.

Basic method of setting odds 

Early bookmakers odds are based on the likelihood of an outcome and are altered according to where money is being placed. Since there has to be a winner, they try to spread their potential liabilities as evenly as possible.

Say for example, bookies are asked to offer odds on the result of a coin toss. There are only two possible outcomes. The likelihood of it landing heads is equal to tails, so the bookies would offer evens on both. (Slightly less than evens actually to ensure profit, but we’re going to ignore that for this example)

Even odds mean that if you bet £1, you win £1. Your initial £1 stake is also returned, so you double your money.

So long as customers have bet evenly between both outcomes – 50 people bet £1 on heads, 50 people bet £1 on tails – the bookies can’t possibly lose money no matter which way up the coin lands.

The odds will remain even while ever customers bet evenly on both possible outcomes, but if that changes, the odds will too.

Another coin flip takes place and the bookies offer the same odds. This time however, 80 people have bet tails, and only 20 have bet heads. If the odds remained evens for both outcomes, the bookies would need it to land on heads for them to profit. Their bases are no longer covered and by keeping the odds even, the bookies are gambling with their own profit and losses.

But the bookies don’t gamble. Not if they can help it anyway. It’s a tad ironic I guess, but in most cases the only people not gambling is the bookmakers.

To ensure they don’t lose money whatever the outcome is, the bookies will alter their odds. Since a lot of money has been placed on tails, they’ll reduce the odds available to 1/5, meaning you’d only win £0.20 for every £1 you bet. The odds on heads meanwhile will be much more attractive since they won’t lose money on that outcome. On heads, the bookies offer 2/1.

In theory, this should level the betting. People will stop placing money on the outcome which offers the least potential reward and start placing money on the outcome which offers them the highest possible return. The bookies liabilities will eventually level out for each possible outcome and the odds will level accordingly.

How manager and sports betting differs

The above example would work perfectly well for a coin flip or for any event where the possible outcomes are equal. But football isn’t that black and white. If Manchester City are playing Burton Albion, every football fan in the country knows that both teams can theoretically win, but 99 times out of 100 Manchester City will walk it.

Manager betting is no different. Presented with a list of 100 names, we know that it’s theoretically possibly for them all to be appointed the next Leeds United manager, but very few people are going to look at the list and think Roy Keane is a good bet at 50/1. The chances of it happening are almost zero.

This is where things get a little trickier for the bookies and other factors are taken into consideration. While they’ll still be trying to cover their bases by altering odds according to where money is bet, they’ll also factor in the same knowledge we do when setting out their odds, so while there may be 100 possible outcomes, every possibility isn’t equal. Since Roy Keane’s appointment is incredibly unlikely and very little money will be placed on him, 50/1 odds won’t hurt them. Hell, 5000/1 odds wouldn’t hurt them.

The more likely candidates are where things get complicated. This is where the bookies could really be hurt if they don’t react quickly to speculation and where the money is being placed. At 10am a bookmaker can be offering 4/1 odds on Nigel Adkins knowing they have every liability covered (they profit no matter what the outcome is), only for a sudden surge of money to be placed on Adkins leaving the bookmaker exposed if Adkins is appointed.

Here the bookies would use the exact same method they used for the coin toss, making odds on Adkins far less attractive so people stop betting money on him, while making odds on everyone else more attractive to cover the potential loss of an Adkins appointment (note how Di Canio, Poyet and Southgate’s odds became more attractive as Adkins crashed – this is where they want you to bet).

But the bookmakers don’t want people to stop betting completely, so a market is never closed until the outcome is determined or unless there’s no one around to react and alter the odds (many online bookies close betting overnight for example).

Why people are so caught-up on bookies odds… 

At first glance, it may seem bookies odds are driven by nothing more than fan speculation. If fans believe Nigel Adkins is GFH’s most likely choice then it stands to reason more money will be placed on him. And it’s true, the bookies do consider this. They employ people whose sole duty it is to understand their customer and how they’ll bet – people with a good knowledge of the market who are basically tasked with researching you.

But this knowledge only goes so far, and in some cases, only helps bookies after the fact. If Salem Patel hints at Nigel Adkins and we all start piling money on him, by the time the bookmakers have reacted it may already be too late.

That’s why the bookmakers don’t hang around to see what we do and can be considered as valuable a source of information as respected newspapers, because like the best newspapers, bookies employ experts to obtain and analyse valuable information on their markets.

Bookmakers use a combination of complex mathematics, well-sourced information and expert opinion to ensure they profit no matter what the outcome is.

So is Nigel Adkins a nailed on certainty? 

For the odds to fall so sharply it either means a lot of money has been placed on Adkins (relative to the rest of the field) or the bookies know something we don’t.

Personally, I’m leaning towards the first possibility. Last time Leeds United found themselves looking for a new manager, there was plenty of strong candidates that the press and fans considered to be in contention. No two fans wanted the same man and no one knew what to expect, so money will have been spread across the board. This time round 99% of the speculation has centred on Nigel Adkins, with many fans considering it to be a foregone conclusion. Without any reasonable and likely alternative, where else would fans be placing money? It’s seemed like a one horse race.

Sure, you could argue that Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio are possible alternatives, but Poyet is less likely than Adkins because he’s already employed while Di Canio is an unpredictable madman – few chairman are going to take a chance on him. This could explain why Gareth Southgate appeared from nowhere to become 6/1 second favourite earlier in the day. The bookies may have added him to create speculation themselves, hoping that it would take the attention away from Adkins and force fans to consider (and bet on) other possibilities.

39 Responses

  1. Tim campbell

    After all that i’m gonna have a sneaky quid on Shergar being the next Leeds manager and retire on the winnings to monaco, where old papa smurf and i will play cards all day and drink Pimms upon his yacht

    • Old Goat

      If you find yourself alone and on the high seas with the bearded one then you will have a unique opportunity. Don’t blow it.

  2. Tim campbell

    After all that you’ve just said Tss i think i’ll nip down to the bookies and put a sneaky quid on Shergar being the next Leeds manager, and then retire off the winnings to the South of France with a well known bearded one and play cribbage and drink pimms upon his yacht all day long lol

  3. Tim campbell

    Ps i chose Shergar because we’re so familiar with the ‘hoof’ it style of football lol

  4. Graham

    Were you a bookies runner in a former life?

    Your nicely worked examples also illustrate the effect ‘heart’ rather than ‘head’ money has on the odds offered by bookmakers and why England will forever be second favourites for major tournaments when we all know they haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of winning (I still can’t figure out FIFA’s ranking system, mind).

    I see the Adkins rumours are now all over the papers – or certainly their online editions, but for me it begs a question about our glorious yet deeply-flawed dinosaur of a club. Adkins had already performed miracles with little Scunny – why didn’t we have the balls or foresight to try tempting him away then? I thought of it at the time (honest….) but we seem to have a fatal attraction to dull jobsworths who can barely string three words together without resorting to clichés. “If I’m honest” – Warnock (so he’s lying at all other times), “At this Football Club” – Grayson (well which other bloody club would you be talking about?), “It was him that did it” – Blamewell (never your fault eh Kevin?). WTF!

    Anyway, Adkins has been my preferred choice since he was sacked at Southampton but I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Rant over, cheers.

  5. Graham

    Got the ‘all over the papers’ bit wrong though – just glanced and saw the 17th but the articles were from February, not this month. Here’s hoping the bookies have got it right.

  6. igiveup

    He’s also 5/2 fave for the Reading job. If he doesn’t go there then he must be nailled on for ER…fingers crossed!i

  7. markman

    how come Alan curbishley never gets a mention for any job
    has he retired?

    • mrbigwheels

      Not my choice sir but he’s ‘around’ and well….. Life is full of surprises… especially at Leeds.

    • Old Goat

      Good manager but he doesn’t seem to feature in gossip nowadays and gives the impression that he’s not actively looking. Think he’s kinda in a comfort zone. Also he’s from London area and would probably need something pretty spectacular to uproot himself at his time of life. Maybe Reading but can’t see him coming to us.

  8. Bluesman

    Well I think t hat we should have Atkins because he looks smart and always wears a suit! At least he looks the part and we all know what he can do. But, who is the top manager that NW is talking about?

    • mrbigwheels

      Ha ha… you can’t beat looking sharp Bluesman. I’m personally sick to death of the Warnock two piece.
      As for the Top Manager?…. perhaps we may be hearing more of Mr Curbishley?.

  9. whitesoldier

    Also a manager could of agreed to become a clubs next manager and both manager and club for whatever reason decide not to announce it to the media for X amount of days/weeks thus they are a few specific people in the know about who will be the next manager and inevitably it starts to leak, thats when all of a sudden you get a flurry of big bets it would’nt suprise me if the punters are the actual people involved stretching to extended families and friends, My personal opinion is it has been agreed in principal for a number of weeks for Adkins to become the next manager without actually signing a contract yet and I expect talks to happen very soon, whether Adkins does become next manager will depend on if he will get financial backing from GFH.

  10. Aussie

    If they won’t SPEND ANY MONEY.PUT micky mouse as manager?We’ll still finish up mid-table,mat-be?

  11. Jack

    I Don’t think we need a lesson on the laws of probability! and get your facts right one can still get 7-2 for Adkins, suggest you try oddschecker dot com……

  12. mrbigwheels

    Wooo!. Hold on a moment please. With all respect I think the important thing here is to ask… Who… will be choosing the new manager?. Certainly not the bookies, certainly not the fans.

    Whatever anyone thinks of Warnock and his ‘life at Leeds’, it’s pretty clear to me that when he says something, makes a statement, (once you’ve cut through the waffle), there is an actual indication of what may well happen at this Club.

    If the facts are, (expressed firmly by TSS), that Ken Bates has very little active involvement or persuasive input at the Club now, then who does that leave?. Mr Patel seems to be the main spokesman and responsible for on going co-ordination of most things coming out of GFHC, possibly an excellent investment manager but very short on football management. Shaun Harvey…doubt it. PL, EG or the Club mascot…. no way. Have or will the owners take on board external advice… very little in my view. GFHC seem to operate very much in-house and don’t forget Warnock was very inclusive within their takeover. They have certainly been taking opinion.

    I believe Warnock will be actively involved into the summer and in the procurement process. Can see him in Bahrain this week and some of the ‘barmy army’ spitting feathers by the following weekend.

    That will skew the bookies for a while.


    • Irving08

      You’re depressing me MBW – because you are probably right. It’s now up to us fans tell Warnock where to go until he does go. He never had much to offer in the first place and he’s got absolutely nothing to offer now.
      GFH should show him the door for publicly throwing in the towel; appoint Redfearn and Naylor on a temporary basis; force the issue on the Chief Executive and only then move to appoint a new Manager. By the time this is all done, one of Poyet, Lambert or Martinez will be available amongst attainable British managers with the necessary weight.

      • mrbigwheels

        My apols on the depression front Irving.

        I have made my point reference Warnock actually having possible further use, whatever the previous, TSS has expanded on that with greater clarity. I invite you to take on board within the parameters the owners are possibly confined, totally embracing the financial constraints that I’m sure the Club presently hold and our joint view for patience in appointing the best possible new manager. Warnock is correct on this and I’m absolutely with TSS’ line ”like it or not, Neil Warnock is probably the best person to make such a call”.

        My view comes entirely from seeing a knee jerk appearing and the disaster that would bring down the line. We’ve had that before. The main problem here is GFHC actually getting Warnock to stay until the end!, have you met Mrs Warnock?. Please see that if NW goes from the present structure of the Club before the end of the season we are left with a Chairman who doesn’t give a fig, Owners who are clueless in football business. past their time directors and Shaun who does as he’s required to do. Redfearn and Naylor are not keen on being in the dugout and Warnocks men will go with him. Ah yes we also need a new Chairman.

        In my experience there will be an implosion, with massive financial implications, apathy on the pitch and in the stands to a greater degree than the present. Ten weeks of that will slice the Club in half. Bates didn’t quite manage that in the final months of his tenure but he damn well resowed the seeds of perpetual scepticism and apathy.

        There is no money!, no money to appoint any of the short odds at the moment and half the fan base will jump off the cliff or be struck rigid when they actually see nothing happening in six weeks time and Warnock has actually left the building. NW isn’t going to choose the new man but GFHC require experienced some logical guidance surely. The GFHC element of the board are on thin ice here with the others ineffective or not that interested.

        I’m talking damage limitation here to get to a much better place in JULY ’13.

      • Irving08

        Thank you for your reply MBW whose logic cannot be faulted on the premises. The situation is serious and it for statesmanship few football clubs appear able to muster. I can see that the role NW is called upon to perform does suit him better than the job of actually managing. And it is not a given that he would recommend someone in his own image. So, yes, I can take what you say on board, whilst knowing that events may have the final word.

    • TSS

      That’s an interesting thought actually. Patel does indeed seem to be the main man at the club now, filling the empty space left by Ken. But as you say, he probably doesn’t know the game as well as most chairman.

      Ultimately, decisions at a football club fall to the owners, but there’s a whole host of people they employ to advise them. It’s the same as any business. An investment bank doesn’t just buy football clubs, they may also buy hotels and a DIY chain, they probably won’t know much about those either. That’s where advisers come in. I do a similar thing in the sector I work in to an extent – I train and develop managers, so when positions open up, I’ll be consulted by the people above who don’t know the candidates as well as I do.

      So the real question isn’t whether Patel et al know the game, owners don’t need to, it’s whether we should have any confidence in the advisers currently employed by Leeds United – Shaun Harvey, Gwyn Williams, Peter Lorimer, all of whom contributed to the utter failure of a club we were during Ken Bates’ era.

      I suppose key to this issue is how much influence you believe the aforementioned people had under Bates rule, and how qualified they were in the first place to justify their appointment. Ken isn’t known for listening to many people, I suspect he decided on the vast majority of decisions without consulting the likes of Lorimer and Williams.

      Peter Lorimer certainly knows the game, but he strikes me as a bit of a nodding dog, happy to stick his vote behind whichever name is most popular. More of a sheep than a shepherd. Williams I’m unsure on, he seems to be pretty bulletproof so must be doing something right, but we’ve signed some incredible flops on the back of his advice. Then there’s Harvey, again, he’s been around football long enough to know the game, but I’m not sure how active he’d be in making such a decision. He seems to come into the equation once the decision has been made, simply to deal with the legal/financial side of things.

      That leaves a bit of an opening for anyone at all to have a say. I doubt GFH will be consulting Ken Bates, but Neil Warnock could have major influence. He’s faced every candidate at some point or another, who better to judge their credentials? He understands the systems they play, he’ll have seen how they adjust tactically, cope under pressure and will also know the conditions under which they’ve achieved any success.

      Like it or not, Neil Warnock is probably the best person to make such a call.

  13. Matthew

    As much as I would love him as manager, we’re all forgetting that recent managers haven’t been supported financially, he wouldn’t come here without money for players, would he?

  14. andyc67

    Rumour that Adkins will be announced as manager in the next 48 hours but not ours he is Reading bound.

  15. Colin

    Firstly, TSS was spot on with this article. I think the bookies have played gullible punters here. They’ve taken money on Adkins and previously they took money on Di Canio. There’s not a cat in hell’s chance any of them would be the manager of Leeds. In addition, the throwing into the mix of Gareth Southgate made me smell a rat – that was an interesting movement by SkyBet.

    As for Adkins, why is he so good? Because he got Southampton promoted? He got sacked by them too. We’ve already had a manager who is an expert at promotion and that’s Warnock and that’s failed miserably. No way will the GFH Capital board make the same mistake twice.
    Any manager who comes into Leeds will demand that he knows what he has to spend and what the long term plan is. Even GFH don’t know what that is, so it will be the end of the season at the earliest that we get another appointment, and rightly so, there’s no need to rush.

    Leeds have had either mediocre/interim fillers as managers in recent times – Peter Reid, Blackwell etc. or knee jerk reactions – MacAllister, Wise.

    Grayson was the only one that made sense. And that’s probably the route we’ll take again. We should go for an up and coming manager – perhaps Poyet, Karl Robinson or a SPL manager.

    GFH have shown that they make cool and calculated decisions and I don’t doubt they will do the same with the next managerial appointment. No need to rush. Wait until the end of the season and then you can see exactly where all the clubs stand and have a bigger playing field to choose the next manager.

    Adkins, the man in the glass, Mr. Powerpoint as next Leeds manager? Don’t make me laugh.

    • Matthew

      Speaking of Grayson, I bet he’d be here tommorow if offered his old job back.

    • Irving08

      Definitive, I would say. GFH’s investors are said to be in it for the long-term: the decision on the next Manager must be correspondingly long-term.

  16. Chester white

    If its to be Atkins they need to make a move quick, as the word is Leicester are about to sack Pearson and go for him

      • Matthew

        Leicester would be a poisoned chalice, at least in my opinion. Despite all the money spent there, they have achieved nothing but failure time and time again, I wonder how long it’l be till their Thai owners get bored of their new toy and go home?

        At the rate they’re going, they will lose that 6th place spot, maybe to Brighton or another team chasing it. They money may be a good lure for some managers, but ultimately they won’t be getting promotion any time soon.

  17. PMH

    When you go shopping step one is to look in your wallet and see how much you have in cash, and on your Barclaycard. How much have Leeds got? No idea, right? So, the odds are ridiculous, unless someone knows something I don’t. I’m hoping all the GFH lads are raiding their piggy banks and Swiss accounts and are ready to spend like there is no tomorrow. Otherwise, it is a decade of Championship for us.

  18. number1inyorkshire

    There is a list of people we dont require .warnock at the moment been top of that list ..
    Adkins ,Poyet the top 2 for me but would take either with AIDY BOOTHROYD as their number 2 .i know he is his own man at his current job but!!! .
    Could we look abroad and secondly with GFH probably looking to sell rather than keep will that affect the thinking of any potential new managers ..what about a foreign manager ,, DI matteo …

  19. CHELPA

    do u think we got any chance of getting roberto di mateo? would be an awesome appointment and would surely get the fans backing, what you think folks? MOT!

    • Matthew

      GFH would have to pull a hefty transfer budget from their arse to get Roberto Di Mateo, he’s a premium manager, you know, someone that would need money thrown at him to come here, and he’d deliver.

      Basically cross that name off your imaginary list because it simply won’t happen, don’t get your hopes up.


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