Home of the Cash-Out??

I've already spoken about the topic of 'Cash Outs' offered by the bookmakers, and how the option is there in an attempt to increase their profits, despite marketing the feature as one that would benefit the customer. 

There has now been another debacle with this temperamental feature on Betfair that occured last night and had around 400 people on their live chat support to try and find out what was going on! I have since spoken to several people since, on top of searching twitter to find a large number of disgruntled Betfair customers.

The game in question was the Premier League tie at the Emirates between Arsenal and Swansea. Understandably, many people had Arsenal to win in their bets, so after two second half goals in 60 seconds from Podolski and Giroud turned the game on its head after Bony's early header, many opted to cash out and take any profit they had earned so far. With Everton and Man City winning the other games 2-0 at the time (both favourites), a lot of people were set to profit with the Gunners 2-1 up for the final 15 minutes. This caused a lot of people to take to twitter in search of answers, and thus far to no avail. 

Betfair seem to be trying to sort something out, but at the minute are staying pretty tight lipped. The one thing is for sure is that they won't be paying out the values that people had tried to cash out whilst being unable to. It seems as though they are likely to try to refund the stakes - with some rumouring them to be refunded as a FREE BET... Not sure yet if these are rumours, but I hope not. 

I have spoken with a couple of people who had tried to cash out after Arsenal went 2-1 up but were unable to. So many were in the same situation that I'm sure that the punters were collectively down £1,000s as a result. Mick Swift tried to let Betfair know when he was trying to cashout, and asks if this request will be honoured - I doubt it will, unfortunately. 

Nath Moss summed up how everyone was feeling about the service provided by Betfair. Perhaps if Betfair spent more money on a reliable product instead of advertising it, they would have a successful service, fewer complaints, and thousands of happy customers that would effectively advertise if for FREE by suggesting to their friends and colleagues. Instead, they get batch of bad publicity followed by batch of bad publicity and wonder why their company appears to be going down the proverbial swanny.

If you want to cash out - look at using somewhere else or the Betfair exchange to limit liability (even if it is a little more effort), why:

  1.  It is much more profitable as Betfair take a cut when using the cashout option - no value, lower profits
  2. Protect yourself from the sporadic availability of the cashout feature.

Let me know what you think on Twitter, do you agree?


A season of Two Halves?

A season of Two Halves?

The Premier League's half-term report shows it to be a league of two halves, with already a seemingly insurmountable divide between those teams chasing Champions League glory and those likely to immersed in a relegation dogfight, and any attempts to predict the outcome at either end are likely to be about as accurate as a Jason Puncheon spot kick.

For probably the first time in Premier league history, the breakaway pack at the top comprises arguably the "Big Eight"" in terms of success, tradition, fanbase and financial clout: namely the two rivals from Manchester and Merseyside respectively, the London glamour club triumvirate, with plucky Newcastle tugging desperately at their shirt tails like a needy child.

Perhaps the only club missing that could possibly feel it has a claim to gatecrash that elite party might be fallen giants Leeds United, but their decade of decline into lower division obscurity has dulled the memory of their history and potential for now.

The top of the Premier League is excitingly and refreshingly tight, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal each occupying top spot at some point over last weekend, while Liverpool and Everton are constantly leapfrogging over each other in their quest to turn a promising first half of the season into long overdue tangible success. Manchester United still lie behind Tottenham (themselves with genuine European aspirations), and The Chosen One, although looking like a deer in the headlights at times when watching his team underachieving on the pitch, will no doubt cling onto the fact that United have overturned an 11-point deficit before at this stage (albeit not with six clubs ahead of them), and clearly any team missing the quality of Rooney and van Persie can only hope for an upturn in fortunes upon their return.

Of the twenty Premier League clubs, it would appear that only Newcastle United and Southampton are destined for that stale marriage of midtable mediocrity and meaningless games, both settled in that safe pocket of 30+ points in the bag without ever looking likely to upset the big boys above them, although both would argue that they are only a sustained good run away from muscling themselves back into the title-chasing pack.

At the other end, the tightness of the bottom half can be shown by the fact that Southampton in 9th place lie 7 points clear of Hull City in 10th, a margin that is actually larger than the meagre six points separating the Tigers from the Eagles in bottom spot, and while no doubt happy to be currently in the top half, Steve Bruce will be well aware that he is only one bad month away from slipping towards the bottom three precipice.

Never has the division between top and bottom halves been so distinct, and never has the fight to stay up been so interestingly poised, littered with teams with recent Championship experience, and indeed with more established teams that wouldn't be out of place in that division either. All the usual suspects are back in the fray again, although after their relative successes of last season, the bosses of Swansea and West Brom might be scratching their heads in befuddlement at where it all went wrong so far this campaign.
With an 11-club struggle for survival to go with a 7-team battle for Champions league glory, there are going to be thrills and spills and six-pointers galore, and just about every game (with the possible exception of Southampton v Newcastle) seems likely to have some bearing on title and/or survival hopes.

With such an exciting second half to the season in prospect, it is likely to get uncomfortably warm in some of the managerial hot seats between now and May, but it's should make great viewing for us from the stands or the comfort of our armchair.


Will Walcott Be Missed by Arsenal? or England?

Nearly eight years ago, the England manager Sven Goran Eriksson made arguably the bravest (maybe the only brave) decision of his England tenure when he named 17-year-old Theo Walcott in his 2006 World Cup squad. Sadly, such a bold move was then negated by his subsequent short-sighted failure to give his young protégé a single minute on the field, making his presence in Germany totally futile and a mockery of the whole argument for his initial inclusion.
Four years later, Fabio Capello contraversially failed to include Walcott in his squad for South Africa, and now, as England's campaign in Brazil looms ahead, a cruciate ligament injury has apparently ruled Walcott out of the tournament, meaning that he will not get the chance to grace a World Cup till Russia 2018, by which time this promising young talent will be 29.

But how much will England miss him, and more immediately, how crucial will his absence be in Arsenal's attempt to claim their first premiership title for a decade? Despite his early introduction his England career has been sporadic rather than prolific, his five goals in 36 appearances highlighted by his hattrick in a World Cup qualifier in Croatia in 2010. He has, however, only come off the field twice as a loser in an England shirt, both in meaningless friendlies, so maybe he could claim to be something of a talisman.
Arsenal can claim him to more than that, as his impact for the Gunners can be seen to be a lot more impressive. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Walcott can finally be seen to be coming of age, scoring 21 goals last season, to go with a further 6 between niggling injury layoffs this year.

In the 18 games in which he has featured this season, Arsenal have won 14, losing just two, while in the 13 matches without him, four have ended in defeat to go with two draws and seven victories. Of course, everything is relative:  three of those four defeats without him were against the might of Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, against whom his impact might have been limited anyway, so it is all statistical conjecture. However, there can be no doubt that his five goals and five assists have been important, especially as Aaron Ramsey's early season purple patch is momentarily fading.

The final conclusion is perhaps that Walcott's injury is more of a cruel blow for him personally than a devastating blow for club or country. The emergence of Andros Townsend at the end of England's qualifying campaign put Walcott's starting position in doubt anyway, while the return to training of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the boost Arsenal needed that might prevent them panic buying in the January transfer window, and I think Mr Wenger would be more concerned with keeping Ozil and Giroud on the pitch than replacing Walcott, as it is they who seem to hold the key to turning Arsenal's early season promise into actual silverware.

For Walcott it is long haul back to fitness, and he'll be hoping his contribution to the season will be remembered for more than his cheeky 2-0 gesture to taunting Tottenham fans while being carted off on a stretcher.