Tuesday 12 July 2016

Union Busters

A pleasing end to the Euro 2016 tournament, where the strategy of backing Half-Time 0:0 (HT0), Full-Time Draw (FTX) and Under 2.5 (U2.5) in knock-out matches finished with a grand-slam home run.

The implied odds on these outcomes since the Euros went to a 16 team format in 1996 are 2.08, 2.38, and 1.56 respectively. While the Unders prices do seem to pretty much be in line with overall expectations (1.52 for the final), the draw and HT0 were available at 3.15 and 2.3 for the final.

These tournaments have two distinct parts, the league (group) stage and the cup (knock-out) stage, and in my opinion, due to the differences in context, the data needs to be kept discrete.

In Group stages since 1996, the implied odds on the above outcomes are 2.64, 4.1 and 1.75 respectively.

This year’s Group stages saw an upswing in all three outcomes, HT0 jumped from 35% to 47%, FTX from 22.5% to 30.5% and U2.5 from 53% to 69%. A prime suspect is the 24 team format, which is less than satisfactory with its ‘best four third-placed finishers' feature meaning that teams have no incentive to take risks, a strategy for which Portugal were ultimately rewarded.

The only other major tournament with this format, and with 3 points for the win, was the 1994 World Cup when Group 3rd placed Italy also made it to the final before losing a 0:0 draw on penalties.

So with the 2015-16 football season finally at an end, the 2016-17 season has already begun and if you’ll excuse me, the author of your favourite blog will  very shortly be taking a well-deserved break from his blogging duties and jetting off to the city of brotherly love and, as my son puts it, “travelling 3,500 miles plus for a meaningless friendly, to watch a team with half the squad missing”.
I have to admit he does have a point, but it’s not all about Crystal Palace. The Union are currently the best team in the Eastern Conference, but only fifth best in the MLS as the Western Conference is the stronger these days, but the game itself means nothing - just a convenient excuse for a trip really, and the Union do seem to be something of a one-man team - or maybe I should say a Toux man team...
I’ve not been to this part of the States before, (Palace played there in 2014 winning 1:0, but I didn't make that one) and apart from seeing the Liberty Bell, I do have family in the area including some second, third, fourth (possibly up to tenth) cousins, removed so many times that I’m not sure they are still part of my family tree, although I am assured by Ancestry.co.uk that they are. 

My father’s cousin, in his eighties, and now living in Baltimore, mentioned to me that he would quite like to see Crystal Palace again, and that his last game in person was a Third Division South encounter prior to emigrating to the US in the 1950s. A few things have changed since then, not least the club going from re-election applicants in 1956 to established Premier League giants a mere 60 years later. 

Have a good Summer.

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