WLB Analysis: Don’t Discount Unfashionable Outsiders


Will Dyer (@W2Dyer) goes back to his roots with a new WLB Analysis column. Here he shows us a few case studies of football teams that have been consistently overpriced and underestimated over the last few seasons.

The Hypothesis

Something you’ll be quite aware of if you study the coupons every weekend is the phenomenon of teams that seem to be underestimated and overpriced consistently. It’s often hard to put your finger on why. Is it just simply because they are ‘unfashionable’?

If a football team is winning matches week after week at big prices but the market doesn't make the necessary adjustments there often seems no other reason to attribute it to. I wanted to investigate to see if we could profit from this phenomenon. So I did.

Crewe Alexandra

Let’s take Crewe for example. An old club, from an old railway town. Is Crewe an unfashionable place?

It’s certainly not super-modern and I think you could say that the long tenure of ex-manager Dario Gradi from 1983 to 2011 and still today as the Academy Manager has people glancing past Crewe.

Punters play a huge role in shaping the betting and I would argue that many of them look at Crewe and just think of stagnation. A club that just hovers between Leagues One and Two; since the Football League has been in its current format they’ve only spent eight seasons above the third tier.

I think that’s been having an impact on their match odds prices. This season already they have won away at Grimsby at 14/5, at home to Exeter at 7/5, at home to Doncaster at 13/5 and away at Stevenage at 23/10.

That means Crewe have won at an average price of just under 23/10.

I have been aware of the Railwaymen winning at inflated prices for a few seasons so I thought I’d take the study back further;


In a season that saw them relegated to League Two they still managed to win at 5/1 away to Barnsley, 6/1 at home to Sheffield United and 9/2 away at Shrewsbury, to name but a few.

They only won seven games all season but when they won it was at mammoth prices; an average of 17/4. An outlay of 46 points backing them to win every game would have returned 43.7 points, a loss of just 2.3 points to level stakes, quite incredible considering they were relegated.


This season was quite ridiculous. They won 14 games in the season and those included 7/1 at Sheffield United, almost 5/1 at home to Bristol City and 9/2 away at Walsall. The average price of those 14 wins? An incredible 10/3.

They only won one game all season priced under 2/1. This means an outlay of 46 points on them to win in every match would have returned LSP of +28.9 points for the season, despite them finishing 20th, just two points away from relegation.


They were not as undervalued in this season but it still saw them win 13 games, of which 11 were over 2/1 and included a 5/1 away win at Preston. The average price was just shy of 5/2 and backing them to win every game would have returned +12 points LSP. This time they finished 19th.

So, as you can see, we have three seasons of data. A total of just 34 wins from 138 games but a profit of 38.6 points to level stakes.

Just three of those 34 wins came when they were priced under 2/1 and they were not odds-on favourites in any match.

This proves that they have been underestimated, and they are not the only ones.


Stade Malherbe Caen are from a small city in Normandy with a population of little over 100,000. This alone probably explains the bulk of their underestimation.

They were not a professional club until 1985 but since then they’ve made their mark on French football finishing fifth in Ligue 1 in 1992, winning the second division twice and finishing runner- up on four occasions whilst also making the League Cup final in 2005.

Their current stay in Ligue 1 commenced in 2014/15 and it was a rather glorious season for them which was even improved on the year after;


They finished an incredible seventh place last season beating Nantes away (10/3), St Etienne away (9/2), Bordeaux away (3/1) and Marseille at the Stade Velodrome (5/1) and winning a grand total of 16 games. This saw them boast a profit of +28.7 points to level stakes and win at an average price of 11/5.


In a campaign that saw them beat Lyon at home at 12/5, Rennes away at 10/3 and once again win away at Marseille (7/1) and Nantes (13/5). The total of 12 wins would have seen you garner a profit of 11.5 points to level stakes if backing them to win every match and this also meant that their average odds when winning was just shy of 11/5.

In summary you’d be 30.2 points in profit if you’d backed Caen in every game for the last two seasons.

They were only odds-on to win in three of the 28 wins featured here and so far both of their wins this season have come at home at prices over even-money (v Bastia and Lorient).


This old German club has spent most of its post-War era playing in the 2.Bundesliga, for almost four decades in fact. They even withdrew at one point to play in the Oberliga Sudwest due to financial issues. Hometown boy Jürgen Klopp finally lead them to promotion in the 2003/4 season.

Their time in the Bundesliga since then has been up and down. In 2010/11 they won their first seven games, equalling a record, and went on to finish fifth. Despite all this they remain pretty underestimated on the whole.


A total of 14 wins from 34 games was more than satisfactory for Mainz who ended up finishing a brilliant sixth, and earning a Europa League spot as a reward.

This season saw them topple Bayern 2-1 at the Allianz with a brilliant performance – they were 20/1 to do so. They also won away at Borussia Moenchengladbach (priced at almost 4/1) who rarely lose at home. Those 14 wins meant you would have made a whopping 37.25 points profit backing them every match and the wins came at an average price of just over 3/1.


This season was a bit of a blip for Mainz but they still won nine games and with 13 draws this meant they finished a respectable 11th. Their best win came away at Hertha Berlin priced at 12/5. None of their nine wins came at odds-on, the average price was 8/5 and you would have only lost -5.5 points backing them to win every game, despite the bland season.


A cracker of a campaign that saw Mainz win a total of 16 games and finish seventh. The most notable win came away at Bayer Leverkusen priced at just under 4/1. Despite five of their wins coming at odds-on prices they still won at an average of 8/5 and you would have made a tasty 23.6 points profit backing them to win all 34 games.

The total LSP of backing Mainz all 102 games since the beginning of 2013/14 is +55.35. The 05ers have started this season well winning two of their four ties so far, both coming away from home at 6/5 and 21/10.

Their sole defeat came by a 2-1 scoreline in Dortmund on opening day, considering the Black and Yellows have scored 17 goals in their last 3 games I don’t think that’s too shabby.


I guess the lesson here is plain and simple – don’t write off a team for their history or small, traditional stature.

Backing the teams featured above to level stakes in all 316 games over the eight seasons featured would have put you in +124.15 LSP. I think that is pretty remarkable.

About Author

Will's an avid supporter of his local team, Swindon Town. He got into betting after a serious case of beginners luck landing a 14 fold BTTS accumulator. Whilst mostly transfixed to the English Leagues, he can't get enough of football and can regularly be found watching more obscure matches from around the globe. Will has a growing interest in American Football after watching the Atlanta Falcons in the States a few years ago. Outside of betting he loves nothing more than snowboarding, travelling the world and a weekend with his pals.

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