Sports betting

Weekend Review: Premier League makes long-awaited return as ‘new normal’ begins

Sluggish start from top sides sets bookies in good stead on Royal Ascot week

The Premier League made its hotly anticipated return from Covid-19 shutdown last week to restore a welcome dose of normality for both punters and bookmakers.

With more than 100 days having elapsed since Leicester City defeated Aston Villa on 9 March, Project Restart kickstarted on 17 June with a 0-0 draw between Aston Villa and Sheffield United.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill described the competition’s resumption as “explosive” and suggested results went the way of the layers in the first round of fixtures.

Gill said: “After a slightly quieter first round on Wednesday as players got back accustomed, it was definitely a weekend for the layers to get things started, with Liverpool drawing and both Arsenal and Sheffield United losing.”

Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with cross-city rivals Everton was a major boost for the bookies, as Jurgen Klopp’s side’s stuttering form continued.

Betway’s Chad Yeomans added: “The results have been far from obvious, which has worked in our favour as we’ve seen plenty of well-supported teams drop points such as Liverpool away at Everton in the Merseyside derby.”

Betfred’s Alan Firkins concurred, adding that wagering levels on the first weekend back were similar to pre-lockdown figures.

He continued: “The weekend’s wagering was very nearly around the levels one would expect in less conflicted times. The Merseyside derby was of course a great result, but Chelsea’s comeback against Aston Villa cost us a packet.”

Ladbrokes’ Alex Apati was thankful for the slow start from Premier League sides, with the three-month shutdown resulting in some sluggishness from players.

Apati said: “We’ve already seen a couple of 0-0s and BTTS has only landed in four of the opening 11 games. It’s been a slow return to action for players and given how few goals we’ve seen in the first half of matches, we’ve generally came out on top on the Over/Under total markets.”

Elsewhere, William Hills’ Rupert Adams touched on UK horseracing following its return and rued Frankie Dettori’s Royal Ascot performance.

“[We had a] solid Royal Ascot, with turnover slightly ahead of 2019,” he said. “Frankie’s 150/1 treble on final day meant that we only made a small profit.”

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