Byline: DEREK McGOVERN
PROBE any group of professional punters and they'll swear that football is one of the most difficult sports on which to make a profit.
Bookie-friendly rules like minimum trebles, unreliable form, dodgy decisions - all conspire to make the football punter's lot a frustrating one.
But a retired chartered accountant from London has perfected a get-rich-quick betting strategy on football - and claims to have won close on pounds 1million over the past four years.
Tony Ansell is a 53-year-old agoraphobic - even the space bar on his PC sends him potty - who spends his life watching televised sport.
Few of us can resist the siren call of the Premiership on the football coupons but Ansell concentrates almost exclusively on the Scottish lower divisions.
It's here, he says, that bookies are at their weakest.
"It was about four years ago I noticed it," he said. "I could hardly believe the errors bookies were making in pricing.
"You see, there is no advantage in playing at home in the Scottish Third Division, yet they were pricing games as if there was.
"Think about it. Most of the players are part-time and the match comes at the end of a hard working week. Come Saturday, they're tired, their wives or girlfriends are nagging at them.
"They turn up maybe 90 minutes before kick-off for a home match, already fed up. They walk out on to the pitch, there are only about 300 people there, and the only thing they can hear is abuse.
"Compare that to the opposition. They've been on a nice, warm coach trip, they've had a game of cards, there's been banter, they're in a good mood, it's a day out.
"When they stroll on to the pitch, all they can hear is home fans getting on the back of their opponents. Of course they have an advantage. Yet the bookies always give the odds in favour of the home team."
Whereas only around 20 per cent of Premiership games this term have yielded away wins, the figure rises to 37 per cent in Scottish Division Three. Last season it was 40 per cent. …