Welcome to Football Betting Sites – your guide to betting on football (‘soccer’ to our American friends) via the internet. Established in 2012, this site offers a variety of football betting guides, strategy articles, free bets and bookie reviews written by our team of experts.
To kick things off we have a veritable smorgasbord of offers ranging from free bets through to deposit bonuses and even the occasional money back deal. These promotions are from trusted and reputable betting sites, all of which have a great football betting product.
Best Free Football Bets For May, 2022
Note: All of the above offers are for UK punters. Customers from other countries may be able to claim them but refer to the relevant site for full details. Always read the terms and conditions and bet responsibly.
Football Highlights: Premier League - 17th to 19th May 2022
UEFA Champions League finalists Liverpool are in Premier League action in midweek, as the in-form Reds travel to St Mary’s to play Southampton on Tuesday night. Nothing but a win, ideally a big one, will do. On Thursday, Everton entertain Crystal Palace, looking to edge closer to safety, and Cheslea and Leicester City meet at Stamford Bridge.
Southampton v Liverpool
Tuesday 17th May, 7.45pm, Sky Sports
On Tuesday night, Jurgen Klopp takes his in-form Liverpool side to St Mary’s to play Southampton in the Premier League. The Reds will want to keep the pressure on leaders Manchester City with three points in Hampshire.
Man City are now the red-hot favourites to take the title, but Liverpool go into every match looking to win, and Tuesday’s fixture at Southampton will be no different. The Saints have caused some upsets this term, but our money is going on the visitors here. Back Liverpool to win both halves at St Mary’s. It probably won’t be enough in the final reckoning but Klopp and co should deliver a comfortable win here.
Everton v Crystal Palace
Thursday 19th May, 7.45pm
Everton welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park this Thursday. After an upswing in fortunes, the Toffees are in much better spirits, and Frank Lampard’s troops will be gunning for all three points from this one. Depending on results prior to this, the Toffees may be all-but safe come kick-off but they will want to make absolutely sure.
Everton have picked up several excellent results lately, beating the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester in recent weeks. They are very strong at Goodison and we fancy the Merseysiders to nick this one against the Eagles.
Chelsea v Leicester City
Thursday 19th May, 8pm
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea will be looking to sew up a top-four place, and three points against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Thursday will go a long way to achieving that goal. The Blues are the odds-on favourites.
Chelsea have had some iffy results in the Premier League in recent weeks, though they cruised to a 3-0 victory at Leeds United in their last one. Consider a punt on Tuchel’s team to win to nil again in midweek.
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How to Bet on Football
Football betting is one of the biggest betting markets in the UK and manages to turnover billions of pounds via a variety of betting markets. It won’t be a big surprise to many to see bookmakers plough massive percentages of their budgets into providing the best betting foundation possible for its punters. Some of the larger betting sites have over 100 different markets on just one single game. A combination of a football weekend can therefore see tens of thousands of different betting markets at any one time.
It helps that football is one of the UK’s biggest sports; not only in terms of playing numbers, but also in terms of game availability through the likes of satellite TV and now online streaming. The exposure the sport manages to generate – even on a global scale – allows bookmakers to supply punters with even more markets and also leagues outside the UK such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, France and many more. Some of the biggest bookmakers for football can be found in the table to the right of this article.
The sport shows no sign of slowing for bookmakers. UK residents are spoiled by having access to one of, if not the, best league in the world in the form of the English Premiership. The Premiership is one of the richest football leagues and attracts a host of the world’s best players. In turn this brings in the viewing figures. It won’t take long when watching a football match on TV to see how much online football betting now has an influence on the modern game. Half time is welcomed with a host of live betting odds from numerous bookmakers and even at grounds throughout the UK bookmakers are setting up betting stalls for people to bet whilst at the match.
Finding The Right Bookmaker And Bonus
It’s often easy to fall into a false lull when picking a bookmaker by shooting with the one with biggest bonus offers. Whilst this may seem appealing, depending on what type of bettor you are should determine which bonus is best for you. Let’s run through a quick example.
Let’s say you are a professional football bettor and actually bet on football as part of your main source of income. You wager in excess of £1000 each week on a variety of football matches from around the world. You should be looking at sites with big deposit bonuses and a high variety of football matches and markets. Whichever bonus offer you take up clearing the bonus isn’t going to be a problem. The amount you wager will meet the majority of clearing conditions and the consistencies of which you place bets will mean you do within the bonus expiry date – if any.
A more recreational bettor who maybe puts one bet a month of around £20 when their mate down the pub gives them a ‘dead cert’ isn’t going to benefit from the big bonuses. Why? Well, they simply won’t bet often enough to clear it. They should look at some of the smaller offers where you get a free bet on your first deposit and bet wagered up to whatever you are going to bet. Bearing in mind that most sites are actually a 100% on your deposit, this does open up a lot of doors meaning the recreational bettor can shop around for the best odds, best bonus offers and easiest clearing terms & conditions before placing a bet.
Free Football Bets
Each of the bookmakers listed above offers some kind of welcome bonus or sign up promotion to new punters. The type of offer and conditions vary from bookie to bookie, but for the most part they fit into one of the following categories:
- Matched Bet – The simplest form of sign up bonus. You register, deposit and make a bet with your own money. Then, regardless of whether the bet wins or loses, you receive a free one from the bookie (once your first bet is settled). These free bets tend to be for the same amount as the qualifying bet, but not always – some bookies will give you a £10 free bet on your £5 initial bet. The free bet is usually given as a token and has to be bet in one go.
- Free Bet if You Lose – A variation of a matched bet, but not quite as good. With these promotions, a free bet is only given if your first bet loses. So if you sign up, deposit and bet £10 on Liverpool to win and they do, you don’t receive a free bet. If Liverpool lose, then you get a free bet to the same value.
- Deposit Bonus – These are bonuses based on your first deposit – so if you register and deposit £50 you might receive a £50 bonus. This bonus is given upfront and can be bet with immediately. Unlike matched bets these bonuses can be used like cash and can be split into as many smaller bets as you like. You are normally required to bet a certain amount before you can withdraw the bonus and the winnings.
As well as the type of bet, there are also a number of differences between the terms and conditions of the bonuses. Whilst the following isn’t an exclusive list, these are the most common terms and conditions to watch out for:
- Stake Returned – For matched bets, if the stake is returned that means that the value of the free bet token is paid out with your winnings, like a regular bet.
- Stake Not Returned – The opposite of ‘Stake Returned’. For these bets only the winnings are paid out, and the free bet token disappears into the ether.
- Minimum Odds – Some bookies require you to place your qualifying bets and free bets at a minimum odds. Minimum odds are usually either 1/2 or evens.
- Turnover Requirement – Also referred to as a wagering requirement, these conditions are most common in conjunction with deposit bonuses. To be able to withdraw the bonus and your winnings, you need to ‘turn over’ the bonus a certain number of times. So if you receive a £100 bonus, you may have to wager £300 before you can withdraw.
Other Football Betting Offers
In addition to giving you free bets when you sign up, many bookmakers will also run various football betting promotions for existing customers as well. These could be long running (such as acca insurance) or they could be match specific. The type of things you’ll want to look out for are:
- Acca Insurance – An almost mandatory staple of any decent betting site, get your money back (often as a free bet) if your acca loses by only one leg. Some sites allow multiple losing legs on really big accas but it’s normally just the one.
- Early Payouts – Something that is cropping up a little more often these days. This offer will pay your bet out as a winner if your team leads by a certain number of goals (even if they then go on to lose the match).
- Double Odds – We’ve seen a fair few different kinds of double odds offers over the years. The general gist is that your bet will be paid out at double the normal odds is specific criteria are met. For example, you could get paid out at double odds on a winning first goalscorer bet if that player scores again in the match.
- Free Bets – Sometimes you just get a good old free bet. It’s not uncommon to get a free £5 bet on a big match when you place a qualifying bet. Often your free bet will be for in play markets whilst your qualifying bet will be on the match odds market, but this varies by bookie.
- Prediction Games – Often free to play, prediction games come in many forms but follow a similar pattern. Predict the outcome of various matches and you could win a prize. Some bookies like to jazz it up with fancy features and quirky twists but the general ethos is the same.
NB: We no longer track individual offers for existing customers on this site, but you can find a regularly updated list that is maintained by our friends at the aptly named Betting Offers site.
We’ve mentioned previously that many of the higher profile games on some of the larger betting sites can gain over 100 markets for that specific match alone. In this section we take a look at some of the more common types of football bets and what they mean.
- Match Betting – Probably the most common market is match betting. Football obviously has three possible results – win, lose or draw – and it’s this market where you can select either one.
- Both Teams to Score (BTTS) – Hugely popular market, also known as BTTS Yes, where you predict if both teams will score in a game regardless of the result. Also offered is both teams not to score in a given match which generally found as BTTS No.
- Double Chance – This market allows you to select two results from the game. So you could have Team A or the draw, Team B or the draw, or Team A or Team B.
- Correct Score – The correct score market is as exactly as it says; choose the correct full time score on the match. This market is often quite lucrative should you guess the correct outcome.
- Half Time/Full Time – This market requires you to select which team will be leading at half time and then again at full time. Remember the draw is part of this bet as well should you wish to select it.
- Half Time/ Full Time Correct Score – This market requires you to select the correct score at half time and then again at full time. Quite a tricky one to pick, but again can be very lucrative if correct.
- Total Goals – With the total goals market you will generally get a choice of choosing the over 2.5 goals or the under on 2.5 goals. Basically if you choose the over then 3 goals or more and you win. If you choose the under on 2.5 then 2 goals or fewer are needed to win. The winners of the game is irrelevant.
- Goalscorers – The market is generally broken into three. The first being the first goalscorer of the game, the second being the last goalscorer of the game and the third being anytime goalscorer.
Football Betting Rules
Football betting rules can differ from bookmaker to bookmaker. We are about to give you an outline of some of the more common ones. If you are unsure or want to know more then we strongly recommend you check with your bookmaker’s terms and conditions or contact a member of their support staff.
- Pay outs are often capped on most bookmakers. The limits differ between each bookmaker and the terms will also differ. We are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds here, so the majority it will not affect.
- Postponed games will mean that bookmakers return your stake. If your postponed match is part of an accumulator bet then the game will be removed and odds adjusted accordingly for your accumulator.
- All 90 minute result markets include injury time and stoppage time either at the end of the first half or second half.
The Differences Between League & Cup Betting
When it comes to betting on football there are so many different options which is a great thing for fans of the Beautiful Game. You can bet on football from all over the world, including women’s football, youth games and even reserve leagues, whilst for the biggest matches in competitions like the Premier League and the Champions League, there may be hundreds of markets from which to choose.
Much of the time, the basics of betting on a football match remain the same, whether it is an under 21s clash in Honduras or a key match in the women’s Champions League. However, there are some important differences between league and cup betting that punters should be aware of.
90 Minute Betting
The first thing to note when it comes to betting on individual cup games is that extra time (and/or penalties) might be a possibility. This means that it is important to be aware that most markets, unless specifically stated, apply to 90 minutes (and any stoppage time) only. If you bet on Inter Milan to win but they draw and then win in extra time, your bet will lose, unless it was on a specific extra time market.
Equally, if you bet on a player in the standard anytime goalscorer market and they score the winner in extra time, this will be a losing bet, not a winner. At the same time, such cup games have additional markets that you will not see with a standard league game. These include options such as “To Qualify” (or “To Lift the Cup” if it is the final) and the Method of Victory market, where options include the chance to bet on your preferred team to win in normal time, after extra time, or on penalties.
Squad Rotation & Cup Upsets
Another area of concern when it comes to cup betting is that the rotation of players tends to be more of an issue. If, for example, you see surprisingly high odds on Liverpool for a match in the League Cup or the FA Cup, you should not automatically assume that is a good bet. If the Reds have a big Premier League or Champions League game just around the corner there is every chance the manager may have intimated he will be playing mostly fringe players.
Related to this issue is that cup games are one-off fixtures and so unlikely results may happen more frequently. Home advantage may take on slightly more import in such games and through a combination of a range of factors, an underdog might be more likely to achieve a result that the odds suggest is highly improbable.
In general, for some of the reasons stated, cup games are often harder to predict. The starting XIs are less predictable, the “magic of the cup” gives the smaller sides more of a boost than it does the biggest ones. In addition, form is often more revealing with a league fixture and you can consider the head to head record of teams from the same division. There are other less tangible factors such as teams being able to play with less pressure (if, for example, they are in a relegation battle in the league) and managers wanting to avoid extra time.
Cup competitions are, of course, hugely exciting and a crucial part of the rich tapestry of football. However, league action is the real meat and drink of the sport for most fans and players. If you are at the wrong end of the table it might be viewed as more of a grind and a slog but there is no doubting the fact that league football is the main staple of the game.
The biggest and most important domestic league in the UK – if not the world – is, of course, the Premier League. The Premier League is the highest level of English football and directly underneath it sits the Championship. The Championship, and beneath it League 1 and then League 2, form the English Football League and the top four divisions are usually considered to be the ones that are fully professional.
Beneath those, we have various domestic leagues that are known collectively as non-league football. The upper tiers of these are generally semi-professional, with players being paid alongside having other jobs. Most of the best football betting sites allow wagering on the top five tiers of English football at the very least, with some offering a number of non-league options, perhaps down as low as the eighth tier.
Other UK Leagues
Due to the unique legal and political structures of the various countries within the UK, there are separate leagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Only Scotland has fully professional leagues, with the best domestic football in both Northern Ireland and Wales being a mix of professional and semi-pro. The best Welsh teams, chiefly but not only, Swansea and Cardiff, play in the English divisions, with both having been in the Premier League or Championship for most of the last 20 years.
There has long been talk of the best Scottish sides, Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers, joining the English football pyramid too. However, there are many problems with this proposal and to date, nothing has come of it. Scottish football consists of four professional divisions, though the total number of teams in these is just 42, compared to 92 in England.
The Scottish Premiership is by far the most illustrious and sees 12 teams do battle, with the three leagues beneath that, the Scottish Championship, League One and League Two, each having 10 clubs.
All of the various divisions within each nation’s football pyramid offer promotion and relegation between them. As well as offering even small clubs the chance for success and growth, this throws up a range of betting options for punters too, with relegation and promotion markets, including those for playoffs, proving hugely popular with fans.
As well as the main leagues in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, there are many other leagues that also attract interest from fans in the British Isles. Traditionally the big five European leagues are the top flights in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. In other words, the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.
The relative strengths of these have varied over the years, although in general France has been the weakest of the five. Spain, powered by Real Madrid and Barcelona, is generally considered to be the strongest and we can see how many European Cups/Champions Leagues nations from the big five have won below (up to 2020/21):
- Spain – 18
- England – 14
- Italy – 12
- Germany – 8
- France – 1
French sides have been runners-up on six occasions but their one win means they are below clubs from Netherlands (six wins, four of those coming from Ajax) and Portugal (four wins, two each for Benfica and Porto). Indeed, the Portuguese and Dutch leagues are very much the best-of-the-rest beyond the big five and serious football fans can catch many games from all of these foreign league competitions live on television, or via a bookmaker’s live streaming service.
All of these huge leagues are covered in great depth by all online bookmakers and you will find almost as many markets for a big German game as you will for a top PL clash. The betting options are almost endless and do not stop with these leagues either, with the main domestic competitions in the likes of the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, Greece, Poland and Turkey all being very covered too.
Continental & Global Club Cups
There are several other huge club competitions too and here we take a look at some of those. These can broadly be divided into domestic cups, and global or continental competitions. Let’s start with the latter.
In the modern game, the Champions League has taken on almost mythical importance. The riches it offers make it hugely important to any club, whilst for players, the chance to compete with the very best players in the world is a huge pull. For those who have been under a large footballing rock for the last 30 years, the Champions League is the elite continental championship for clubs from UEFA (European) nations.
The European Cup rebranded as the Champions League in 1992 but in terms of records and stats, the two competitions are one and the same. The format of the competition has changed a lot over the years and whilst that has attracted criticism, the CL has continued to thrive.
As the European Cup, it was contested only by clubs who had won their nation’s top league the previous season. Ironically, when it changed its name to the Champions League, non-champions were admitted as the contest expanded dramatically. Critics would say that money has long been the driving force in football and there is no doubt that the new format of the CL produced more truly big and appealing matches between football giants that were easy to market and commercialise.
Love it or loathe it, and there are few in the latter camp, the CL produces football of the very highest calibre and for students of the game it can be a real joy to watch. Upsets can and do happen, but more often than not the cream rises to the top. Real Madrid are by far and away the most successful club in the competition’s history, with 13 titles to their name. Next come Milan with seven, Bayern Munich and Liverpool (six each), Barcelona (five) and Ajax with four titles. Manchester United and Inter Milan have both won this competition three times each.
Perhaps the next biggest competition of this nature is the South America Copa Libertadores. This is, in simple terms, the South American equivalent of the Champions League and sees the best clubs from nations from the continent (including Brazil and Argentina) battle it out for continental supremacy. At the time of writing, Argentine sides have won on 25 occasions, with Brazilian teams lifting the trophy on 21 occasions. Uruguay is next with eight, with Colombia and Paraguay joint fourth with three wins apiece.
There are similar competitions in the other footballing continents but none attract too much attention in the UK. As such it is the Europa League which is the next most significant contest. To once again use the simplest method of explanation, this is rather like the Champions League-lite. It was a replacement for the UEFA Cup and, like its big brother the CL, it has undergone many changes in format over the years.
Teams typically qualify for the Europa League by either winning a domestic cup or by finishing high up the league table but not quite high enough to earn entry into the Champions League. The prestige and appeal of this competition were given a major boost in 2015 when for the first time the side that won it was granted entry into the Champions League group phase the following season.
FIFA Club World Cup
One other interesting club competition of note is the . It isn’t taken hugely seriously by most sides, especially those from Europe, but that may change. First played in 2000, there have been various tweaks to the format and to who qualifies but in essence, it seeks to pit the winners of the various continental trophies (such as the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores) against each other to crown the best side on the planet.
Most fans feel it is rather meaningless, featuring too many non-elite sides. To date, only European clubs, or those from Brazil, have ever won, with Chelsea claiming the most recent title in 2022.
On the home front, in reality there are normally only two or three teams in with a chance of winning the top league and becoming champions. The domestic cups however give every side the chance for silverware, or a run deep into a competition.
In the UK and around the world, domestic cups enjoy varying degrees of respect and worth. The FA Cup is probably the most famous domestic cup competition anywhere though and, dating back to 1871, it is certainly one of the oldest. Arsenal are the most successful side in the history of the famous old competition but it is Wanderers (nothing to do with Bolton) and Blackburn who can claim to have won it in three successive seasons (both in the 19th century).
The FA Cup may have lost a little of its sheen as the financial might of the Champions League and Premier League has seen clubs take it less seriously than before but even so, for many players, a career would not be complete unless they managed to lift the trophy at Wembley. The FA Cup still provides some of the purest moments of sport you will ever see and the delight when a non-league minnow overcomes one of the PL’s big boys, or a plumber scores at Old Trafford, is hard to beat.
England also has a relatively important second domestic cup, the EFL Cup (or League Cup), though typically it is known by whatever sponsor is paying in a given season. Ahead of the 2022 final, Liverpool and Man City have both won this eight times, including four in a row for the former between 1981 and 1984 and four in a row for the latter from 2018 onwards (City also won it in 2014 and 2016).
People often devalue the EFL Cup but the fact that the biggest and best teams continue to win it shows that it retains a certain level of importance to clubs. The winners qualify for Europe and also get a timely boost to their seasons, the League Cup being the first piece of silverware up for grabs with the final usually taking place in February.
Domestic Cups Around Europe
The cup structure is similar in the other UK nations but in general only the Scottish FA Cup attracts more betting action from many people other than those with a partisan interest. Outside of these shores, domestic cups tend to be of far lower importance. In Italy there is the Coppa Italia, in Spain the Copa del Rey, in Germany the DFB-Pokal and in France the Coupe de France. These are all akin to the FA Cup but are not held in the same regard, either within their own countries, or, even more so, abroad.
There are similar cups in almost all footballing nations and whilst you can bet on these, watching them is typically less easy. Some of the bigger ones, such as in Spain, Germany or Italy, may well be televised but for any others, you may need to hunt out a live stream from a betting site. You will certainly not see the same sort of global TV coverage that is afforded the FA Cup.
Of course, football is a global game and as well as huge clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan, it is played internationally, with nations as diverse as Brazil and Bhutan, and France and Fiji all fielding sides to various cups and competitions.
The World Cup is of course the daddy of them all and the most prestigious football competition on the planet – even if Champions League fans may disagree. Held every four years since 1930, Brazil are the most successful nation, lifting the trophy (well, two separate trophies after they were allowed to keep the first one!), five times in total.
In its current guise, 32 teams compete at the finals, first in a group phase, then in a knockout format. The World Cup throws up so many betting options and offers from bookies that it really is a football fiesta for those people who like a flutter. The most popular World Cup bets include betting on individual teams to win the tournament, betting on which player will be the top goalscorer and, of course, the many bets available on all the individual games along the way.
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, the first non-summer showpiece of the nation’s favourite sport. England will be among the favourites to go all the way but can they end their long, long wait for glory? As ever, powerhouses like Brazil, Germany, France and Spain will be among the favourites and, also as ever, we should be in for a thrilling few weeks of international football.
England did come very close to ending their wait for major international success when they lost on penalties in the final of Euro 2020 (played in 2021). They came so close but they have never won the Euros, or the UEFA European Championship to use its full name. Like the World Cup, this is held every four years, two years apart from the World Cup (normally at least).
The Euros pits the best 24 teams from the UEFA pool against each other and Spain and Germany have both come out on top a record three times each. The structure of the competition has, of course, been altered many times, but is now broadly similar to the World Cup, with a group phase preceding the sudden-death knockout format of the later stages.
In 2018 another European tournament was added to the roster as the Nations League replaced friendly internationals. It sought to create more competitive games in between the two other major tournaments and more games between sides of roughly similar abilities. It lacks the history and prestige of the two aforementioned international competitions but it has proved a success in its short history. As well as the glory of being crowned Nations League champions, lesser sides can also qualify for the two major tournaments if they are successful in this competition.
Looking beyond Europe, the continental championships of both South America and Africa now attract more attention and bets than ever before. The Copa America was first held in 1916 and has been won multiple times by Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. At the time of writing, it has been held 47 times, its frequency varying over the years, with eight of the 10 CONMEBOL nations having tasted glory. Ecuador and Venezuela are the two South American nations yet to lift the cup.
Africa Cup of Nations
With an increasing number of African players in the Premier League and all over Europe’s top leagues, growing interest in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) should come as no surprise. In 2022 Senegal lifted their first-ever trophy in a final that had a particular interest for Liverpool fans who had to choose between Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Mo Salah (Egypt). In the end, Mane’s men came out on top but Egypt remain the most successful nation in AFCON history thanks to their seven titles.