Red Cards and Football Trading Stats

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    Once you have been trading football for any length of time you will be aware the markets react to almost anything and everything that happens on the pitch, red cards are no exception!


    With this weekend seeing the start of the Premier League I thought I would post some more interesting stats from my football stats database, this time how red cards can affect the average number of goals per game.

    It would be logical to assume a player being sent off will give the opposing team a slight advantage as they have more players, obviously in any one game there will be other factors at play but this should play out over the long run.

    The Set-up

    In order to see what happens I have looked at all Premier League games over the last 10 seasons (games in the seasons 2008/2009 until 2017/2018).

    I have separated these games into those with a red card and those without and for each set of games worked out the average number of goals per game. Finally I have calculated the percentage difference between games with a red card versus those without to show what differences we’re looking at.


    Looking at the results for the full 10 seasons we can see the effect a red card has on a game over the long run. The table below totals up all games from the last 10 seasons and works out averages for games with and without red cards:


    As expected by looking at the table above a red card does on average increase the likelihood of a goal being scored, in the Premier League this is by around 3.5%

    We can also view the averages on a season by season basis to see how consistent this increase is. In the below table I have done the same calculations as above but for each individual season:


    From this table we can see the following:

    • Most seasons did see an moderate increase in goals for games with a red card
    • Two seasons (2011/2012 & 2015/2016) saw a sizable increase in goals of over 10% when a red card was present
    • With the one exception of 2014/2015 the only other two seasons with a negative were in comparison very small negative values

    Trading Set-up

    Since I trade the Over / Under markets regularly I have noticed when a red card is given the odds in these markets can jump quite significantly immediately afterwards (say 15% – 20% assuming we’re not at the beginning or near the end of the match).

    Since on average the increased chances of a goal are around 3.5% yet the market usually jumps much higher this means if we are able to get our trade in at the inflated price and then out again when things settle down this should be profitable over the long run.

    Of course there is still some skill needed in the timing and there could always be a goal in the meantime which spoils things but over the long run sticking to this system should see profits outweigh any losses (but of course no guarantees here 🙂 )


    This is just a quick post to show how the statistical probability of something happening and the reaction of the exchange markets in-play can be quite different making for some good trading setups.

    This is of course just one example of how you can make money trading and there will be hundreds more out there just like this for those willing to put the time and effort into researching them!

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