The Christmas Report: A Stats-Based View On The Outright Markets


DOES being top at Christmas mean you’re destined for promotion? Can being in the relegation zone when Santa comes down the tree leave you doomed? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) explores…

With Christmas just a few days away and the Boxing Day bonanza coming our way, you can put your mortgage on hearing about the ‘Christmas Curse‘ in the Premier League – only two teams have survived relegation having been bottom of the table on Christmas Day.

So I decided to have a look for any other trends throughout the four divisions of English football to see if there were any other standout stats for us to be aware of…

Premier League

Liverpool set the early pace in the Premier League last season and became the first side since umm… Liverpool in 2008, not to win the title having been top of the tree for Christmas.

In fact, seven of the last 10 teams to be leading the pack on Christmas Day have gone the distance and Chelsea are just 4/9 (Bet365) to continue that trend this season.

As already mentioned, the Christmas Curse is shining on Leicester this season. The Foxes are 1/2 (BetVictor) for relegation and 2/1 (Ladbrokes) to finish rock bottom.

Over the last five years, eight of the 15 teams in the bottom three when the turkey’s been cut have failed to claw themselves out and suffered relegation.

Hull (6/4 Betfred) represent the best value of the current bottom three teams going down but with a 47% survival rate, it might be worth looking at the Staying Up market instead – Burnley (9/4 BetVictor) are level on points with Crystal Palace and improving week-on-week.

In the last 5 seasons:

  • 80% of Christmas leaders have claimed the title
  • 80% of teams bottom at Christmas have been relegated
  • 53% of sides in the relegation zone at Christmas have been relegated
  • 20% of sides bottom at Christmas have finished bottom


Of all four leagues that were analysed, the Championship provided the strongest trends at both the top and the bottom of the league.

Over the five-year spread I looked at, all five table-toppers at Christmas won promotion with three going on to win the title. That’s good news for Bournemouth who are 5/6 (Betfred) win promotion this season and 3/1 (Coral) to claim the second tier title.

You have to go back to 2007 for the last time a festive league leader failed to complete the job – that was Watford.

If your team is currently sitting in the top-three of the Championship, you’ve a 73% chance of claiming promotion, when viewing the last five years worth of data – happy days for Ipswich and Brentford who are chasing the Cherries. But neither Ipswich (9/4 Betfred) nor Brentford (9/2 William Hill) are currently in the top-four of the Promotion betting.

At the other end of the table, all five sides residing in 24th-place ended up dropping down into the third tier. Blackpool are this season’s holders but you won’t get rich quick backing the Tangerines to go down (1/16 William Hill) or finish bottom (1/7 BetVictor).

But like the top-three, 11 of the last 15 teams to occupy the bottom-three places for Christmas have been relegated. Wigan (3/1 William Hill) and Brighton (3/1 Coral) both look in big danger with the Latics six points and the Seagulls four points adrift of Millwall. Both look big in the betting.

In the last 5 seasons:

  • 100% of sides top of the table at Christmas have won promotion
  • 100% of sides bottom at Christmas were relegated
  • 73% of sides in the top-three went on to win promotion
  • 73% of sides in the bottom-three went on to be relegated
  • 60% of league leaders at Christmas went on to win the league

League One

The third tier looks much trickier to call. We all remember Leyton Orient’s glorious start to the 2013/14 season ending in play-off heartache and so it could pay to tread carefully in League One.

Looking at the league leaders, we can see only two of the last five Christmas champions finished the campaign in first with Charlton the last side to do the business in 2011/12. However, the promotion picture is rosier with a 60% success rate for Christmas leaders gaining promotion at the end of the season.

With Bristol City topping the table by a point from MK Dons (who have a game in hand), it’s best to be wary of the 2/1 (Bet365) on the Robins’ title odds and 4/7 (Coral) quotes in the Promotion race (just for the records, MK Dons are 3/1 (Bet365) to win the league and 8/13 (BetVictor) for promotion).

With League One looking a competitive race with the top-five appearing to be a cut above the rest, it’s also worth noting that less than half of top-three sides at Christmas ended up winning promotion – as well as City and the Dons, we can add Swindon to the black list.

Instead it’s Preston (10/3 BetVictor) who hold most appeal in the Title betting and 4/5 (Betway) Promotion odds with Sheffield United still looking a touch below their levels in the second-half of last season.

At the other end, Crewe are three points off survival and only 1/3 (Coral) in the Relegation markets. The Alex won’t be buoyed by the news that 60% of sides in the past five seasons ended up going down. However, they did survive last season’s relegation scrap when entering Christmas in 23rd place.

With 55% of teams in the bottom-four at Christmas ending up in League Two, there’s almost a 50% chance on Crewe, Orient, Yeovil or Colchester climbing out. But those with a glass half empty might like the look of the O’s going down at 9/2 (Betfred).

The Londoners have won just four of their 21 league games and have been beset by off-field shenanigans recent weeks. Orient do possess the quality to pull clear but remain three points off safety.

In the last 5 seasons:

  • 60% of sides top of the table at Christmas have won promotion
  • 60% of sides bottom at Christmas were relegated
  • 55% of sides in the bottom-four went on to be relegated
  • 47% of sides in the top-three went on to win promotion
  • 40% of league leaders at Christmas went on to win the league

League Two

Teams towards the top of League Two tend to sustain their early season dominance into promotion. All five leaders in the past five years have gone on to enjoy a promotion party with three of those table-toppers taking the title.

Yet Wycombe, two points clear of the pack, are still ranked as 11/2 (Ladbrokes) third-favourites in the Title betting and as big as 6/5 (SkyBet) to be playing in the league above next year. The Chairboys were the last team to be leading the league at Christmas not to win promotion, way back in 2005/06.

There’s also a strong trend surrounding the top-four with 65% of teams occupying those places going on to claim promotion. Shrewsbury (4/11 BetVictor), Luton (4/6 Bet365) and Burton (11/10 Bet365) have all been kept relatively short in the Promotion betting thanks to their three-point cushion ahead of the chasing pack.

But the most interesting aspect of League Two’s historical Christmas trends centres around the relegation race. In none of the last four seasons have the two teams in the bottom-two at Christmas ended up going down.

That will give hope to a Hartlepool side in the midst of a club takeover. Although the Monkey Hangers are seven-points from safety and rated 1/3 (BetVictor) to drop down to the Conference.

Tranmere appear to be on an upward curve since Micky Adams’ appointment and look well capable of continuing that positive trend. Rovers are currently 3/1 (William Hill) for the drop with Dagenham (2/1 Coral) sandwiched between the Wirral side and Hartlepool in the Relegation betting.

But York are the team to stick out most. The Minsterman are a huge 8/1 (Bet365) to lose their Football League status and sit only a point better off than Tranmere.

In the last 5 seasons:

  • 100% of sides top of the table at Christmas have won promotion
  • 65% of sides in the top-four went on to win promotion
  • 60% of league leaders at Christmas went on to win the league
  • 20% of sides in the bottom-two went on to be relegated
  • 20% of sides bottom at Christmas were relegated

About Author

The big cheese at WLB. After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production before setting WeLoveBetting up soon after the 2014 World Cup. With a huge passion for stats, analytics, the EFL and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.


  1. malcolm caithness on

    Hi Mark , I enjoyed your write up and went with this treble for promotion keeps the interest in leagues going

    £10 Treble pays £53.30

    Treble To Win
    MK Dons @ 8/13
    League 1 Promotion 2014-2015

    Wycombe @ 5/6
    League 2 Promotion 2014-2015

    Bournemouth @ 4/5
    English Championship Promotion 2014-2015

    • Mark O'Haire on

      Thanks Malcolm. It took hours to produce – originally I wanted to go back 10 years but time wasn’t on my side.

      I’d find it hard to disagree with that treble. I found the League Two relegation market most interesting; York looking massive at 8/1 when you consider Ronnie Moore and Micky Adams have been brought into Hartlepool and Tranmere…

  2. Richard Clark on

    I’ve followed you in Malcolm. i’ve backed chelsea, bourmouth and mk dons to win their leagues and Wycombe for promotion.

  3. Hi Mark,
    Appreciated the work you put into your write-up and took heart from some of the stats. Being an Aussie and never having a big interest in soccer but always been a keen gambler, having access to sites like this, with tips, previews and more (along with my own research), has improved my knowledge and success rate in soccer betting immensely because of people like yourself sharing their hard work.
    Having learnt from putting on various outright multi bets last season, I currently have a few outright multi’s on this season, ranging from 6 leg /7 folds to 10 leg /9 folds, all of which taken each way for an outlay of around $5 each multi, with returns ranging from $8600 W / $115 P to $410000 W / $1200 all place.
    Would appreciate your thoughts: Chelsea/Derby/Preston/Luton/Aberdeen (wo Celtic)/Hearts (wo Rangers)/Dunfermline/Albion/Juventus/Barcelona. All bets have first six teams.

    • Mark O'Haire on

      Hi Troy, thanks for your kind comments – massively appreciated and makes the hard work worthwhile…

      I’d say Chelsea and Juventus are by far your strongest selections. Am also very keen on Derby and Preston but have to say, I still have reservations about Luton. Their manager John Still is effectively responsible for their superb season so far but their consistency could yet see them through. I think League Two is very competitive this year and although a top-7 finish should be achievable, I’m not convinced they’ll stay in the top-3.

      I don’t actually cover Scotland so can’t really comment on those teams but your English and European selections should give you plenty of hope from now until May. Good luck bud.

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