The Longest Odds in Football: Reliving the Improbable (Though True!) 2015-2016 Premier League Cinderella Story

Everyone seems to want to know the longest odds in

A Football Report
The Longest Odds in Football: Reliving the Improbable (Though True!) 2015-2016 Premier League Cinderella Story

Everyone seems to want to know the longest odds in football. Why? For the simple reason that defying the odds, as it were, and winning against long odds can make a lot of people a ton of money!

And, besides, rooting for the underdog is fun - even better if the underdog is your team and you think they've made some smart acquisitions in the off-season.

A Cinderalla Story: Leicester City Hoists the Trophy

That was certainly the case a few years ago when Leicester City defied incredible odds and walked away with the Premier League championship. Undeterred by the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, and Arsenal, a truly improbable team in Leicester City rose to the top.

How it happened is now the stuff of lore - an almost equally improbable tie between Tottenham Hotspur and favorite Chelsea (2-2 draw) officially handed Leicester City the Premier League title in the 2015-2016 season with games to spare.

The odds of pulling off such a series of upsets to hoist the Premier League trophy were truly stratospheric but not quite out of this world. The odds were 1-in-5,000 that Leicester City would win, which were roughly the odds that Elvis Presley would be found alive that year!

The projected probability of both events happening are about the same as flipping heads a dozen times in a row. The chances of getting heads that many times consecutively are about 1-in-4,000 (2^12 = 4,096).

Probability More Complex Than Coin Flip - Here's Why

Of course, European football isn't as cut-and-dry as a coin flip with an unbiased coin as the probability of a given outcome is set at the beginning and a projection - an all things being equal sort of deal. Players getting injured or some teams losing that shouldn't lose a lot (e.g., Manchester United) can alter the odds in Leicester City's favor, for example.

Leicester City went 23-3-12 that year and came away with a league-best 81 points. Arsenal did OK that year with 71 points but Leicester City's ultimate success had a lot to do with Manchester United doing unexpectedly poorly (10 losses!) and Chelsea and Liverpool finishing the year with 22 loses combined.

Think about a millionaire who as a "joke" or on a lark put down 100,000 pounds for Leicester City. Hey, that guy may have been a retiree or someone who felt passionately about Leicester City's chances - Filbert Fox will finally have his day in the sun! That 100,000-pound bet would have paid off in spades with a cool 25 million pounds.

The reason that this would truly be the longest odds in football is that such a payoff would be the largest single loss in British history on one sporting market. That loss could well have been your gain. There are similar underdogs in the Premier League right now...

Though Leicester City has significantly improved since the 2015-2016 season - the squad's current odds of hoisting gold have shot up to 1-in-150 - five teams could net you huge gains at 1-in-1,000 odds: Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, and Norwich City.

How Do These Odds Stack Up Relative to Lotto?

All of these are much better than your odds of winning the lottery. The Irish Lotto is typically the easiest to win the jackpot on at 1-in-10,000,000. Easy is a relative term, as will be shown.

Winning the EuroMillions if about 14 times harder at 1-in-140,000,000 and both the PowerBall and MegaMillions are about twice as hard as that at 1-in-300,000,000. Of course, you would be rewarded commensurately for those odds and the lottery ticket in each case is about the same regardless of lottery.

The cool thing about buying a lottery ticket is that your odds of winning any prize can be promising even when the jackpot odds are projected at millions to one. For instance, you actually have a 1-in-13 odds of winning any prize at the EuroMillions even though the jackpot might not happen every time. Truly, a case of you can't win if you don't play, though!

Coming Full Circle with Leicester City's Odds

Leicester City was a cinderella story in 2015-2016 because few people saw them coming and their story defied the odds to the tune of 1-in-5,000 odds against.

Because these odds are all dynamic and change over time, the odds for Leicester City winding up on top in points in the Premier League this season are 1-in-150. That's tied with the wonderfully alliterative Wolverhampton Wanderers's odds this season.

Do you want to know the most exciting part about all of this? Leicester City is in second this season behind Liverpool! Leicester City is in the top five and in very good company, being surrounded by Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United. The times and betting odds can certainly change quickly!