Soccer Betting: Scottish Premier League Playoff

Soccer Betting:  Scottish Premier League Playoff

We’re in something of a sports betting lull at the moment–the NBA and NHL playoffs are winding down and the primary betting sport is Major League Baseball. CFL Canadian football will begin in June which is a highly underrated betting sport but one that pales in popularity to the US college and pro football leagues. The European soccer season is essentially over though there will be plenty of soccer betting action this summer with the World Cup getting underway in Brazil in mid June. So for the time being we’re forced to look far and wide for soccer betting opportunities including the one we’re featuring here–a Scottish Premier League playoff game between Hamilton and Hibernian.

The Scottish football league system is very similar to its English counterpart though with fewer teams at each level. As is the case in England with teams advancing from League One to the Championship League and being relegated in the opposite direction there is a playoff system in addition to automatic relegation/promotion. In Scotland, the top team in the Scottish Championship gets promoted to the Premiership–this year that’s Dundee. The last place team in the Premiership (Hearts) will be relegated down to the Championship League. The playoff involves the #2 team in the Championship (Hamilton) against the next-to-last team in the Premiership (Hibernian). This is the first leg of a two game home and home aggregate goal series.

An important concept to keep in mind as we start our handicap is the level of competition in Scottish football. Simply put, it’s not as good as in England meaning that there’s less qualitative difference from league to league. For example, a relegation bound English Premier League team may be significantly stronger than a top level Championship team. That’s not really the case in Scotland. Hamilton finished the season just 2 points behind Championship winner Dundee and the mindset of the team is that they’re just as good as their Premiership bound counterparts. They’ll want to take advantage of their home field in the first leg of this series which will allow them to play a conservative, defensive game in the away game at Hibernian.

Hamilton is highly confident against Hibernian and have had little trouble with them in recent meetings though the two teams haven’t played since 2011. They’ve won 5 of 7 against ‘Hibs’ and are 3-1-1 in the last five. Hamilton ended the season in very good form with only one loss in their last 15 games. They were a very good home team this season going 12-3-3. Hibernian has essentially been playing out the string for the last six months–they finished the season 1 win in their past 18 games against 13 losses and 4 draws. In 9 of those games they failed to score a goal. They won only 4 road games this year against 4 draws and 11 losses being outscored 22-11. Goal differential is a very telling stat in this matchup–Hibernian was -20 while Hamilton finished +27.

Several ways to bet this game–you can lay a small price on the two way line getting your money back in the event of a draw. We prefer to take Hamilton on the three way line at plus money. We’re also mindful of Hibernian’s woeful goal scoring average on the road–they’ve put up less than a goal a game (0.61 goals per game) and once Hamilton gets a lead we expect them to play keep away.