The real winners of the Premier League season

Welcome to Tuesday Team Talk. Every week, the H+K Sports team will give a unique perspective on the week’s football action and the stories making the headlines across the beautiful game.

Let’s just get this out there; this is the greatest Premier League season ever. Utterly unpredictable, different from anything we've seen before and changing almost by the week. The biggest reason for this season being so good - the miraculous rise of Leicester City and the breakup of the established top four. In a season like this we are all winners, (unless you support one of the old top four of course, but you've had plenty of good seasons, so don't really count) but there is one group for whom this season represents even greater success. The true winners of the 2015/16 season… bookmakers. 

Leicester’s place at the top of the league has created one of the most fun football narratives in recent years; the fans who are set to cash out on bets on them winning the Premier League. Leaving aside (for now) the morality of gambling stories in popular consciousness, this is a classic football love story. Football romance is entirely irrational, and there is no greater example than those few fans who decided to put their hard earned money on a 5000-1 bet on a team that were almost relegated last season. Seeing these most romantic and foolhardy of fans get their day in the sun, it’s enough to make anyone fall in love with the game again.

The other wonderful part of this story, and the thing that encourages publishers to keep writing stories about the latest example, is the 'will-they, won't they' drama about whether fans should cash out on their bet or wait it out to see if Leicester win the title. This story does well because it hits on something that the National Lottery has done for years, the question of 'what would I do in this situation?’ The intricacies of when to cash out or not are fascinating, and have stimulated many a water-cooler conversation. This constant conversation centred on gambling has made bookmakers big winners of this Premier League season.

Quite rightly, the industry has been closely criticised for its social impact, and the various match fixing scandals across all sports that are stimulated by the gambling industry. It's certainly true that gambling has caused many people a huge amount of damage to their lives, so we must be careful about speaking too romantically about its impact. But there can be no doubt, that from the perspective of the industry, this Premier League season has been an incredible success. Fans across the country have read all the articles about Leicester fans that have dominated the season, and had the same thought, ‘if only this was me’. Football fans are a hopeful lot anyway, but next year, look for fans of every club putting a few quid on their team to win the Premier League, thinking they could be the next Leicester City. 

James Fenn

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search