While football authorities are still racking their heads to figure out the best way to conclude the season, bookmakers are also wondering what would be the best way to settle ante-post football wagers if the 2019-2020 campaign is abandoned because of the current situation. Once the Premier League season restarts, whether it be this season or next season, Max Free Bets will be one of the first bookies to offer free bets and other deals on the matches.
The WSL, FA and EFL after a meeting agreed to postpone all professional games till the 4th of April because of the situation on ground. The Scottish FA also put an indefinite suspension to all grassroots and domestic professional football competitions.
The Masters Golf Tournament which many people enjoy watching was also postponed, while the Premier League is hoping to come back and complete the remaining fixtures whenever it becomes safe to do that. But how this will happen is still unclear.
If these fixtures cannot be completed, just as the BBC previously reported that the arrangement is still looking like impossibility; bookmakers may be left in a position where they will continue to search for a solution to a problem that is not captured in the laws.
Speaking about the suspension of the ante-post football markets, a representative of one of the bookmakers revealed to Racing Post Sport that they actually have no idea of how to go about it.
Some bookmakers have been saying that if the complication continues, then they will have to find a fair way to settle the issue.
According to Alan Alger of Betway, all eventualities of this nature are taken care of by the rules, and in cases where events are cancelled, the entire bets would become void.
But for him, because the situation on ground is very peculiar, they will have to wait and see how the football associations, leagues, and governing bodies, decide to come up with winners. These may lead to a change in the format of competitions, reduction of the length or even jettisoning of the season completely.
For him, he can’t say anything for now since it would be too early to talk, though they have settled bets on Liverpool to win the league even before Christmas. So, people who picked Liverpool in their ante-post have cashed out their money already.
Majority of the bookmakers have settled bets on Liverpool to win, as the league leaders only need 6 points to become champions, and are 25 points ahead in the table. However, some other ante-post markets are still difficult to predict.
Many punters have rushed to cash out their wins out of fear of the bets being voided with the suspension of the ante-post. But bookmakers have closed that cash out option for now.
John Hill, who is the spokesperson for Coral posited that while the situation is still unfolding as the day goes, they are waiting to see the decision of the governing bodies either to alter or reschedule the season.
For him, they can handle matters concerning individual betting markets when they get more facts about the actions to be taken by the governing bodies, though the ideal thing is that all competitions should be completed naturally.
In the rules governing ante-post football bets in most bookmakers, bets can only be settled based on the position of teams at the end of the season in question, and this is normally against the court actions and post term point deductions that normally follow.
One compiler of odds who never wanted to be mentioned revealed the nature of discussions being held on the trading floor.
For him, if they are to consider the three options that the Italian FA is considering, then they will have these;
The first position is not to award the title to any team, to allow people who are in Champions League spots already to go for Champions League next season, without any teams being relegated. For him, this position will mean that all bets would be voided.
The second position is to declare that everything is already decided in the season as it stands, and based on this, they will now settle all bets. But he doubts if this position would be acceptable to many clubs, and that some may even go ahead to challenge this in court, causing more problems.
The third scenario is to hold playoffs to decide the winner of the titles and those to be relegated. If they do this, it will mean coming up with an official result, and so the bookmakers will pay out based on that. But nothing is 100% sure in any of these for now.
For him also, many bookmakers are expected to make some goodwill gesture by paying bets on Liverpool as winner of the league and on Leeds to gain promotion if the season is declared void.