Now known as the SPFL Reserve League, the major feeder for Scotland’s biggest clubs has been in existence as we know it since only 2018.
Formerly the Development League, the SPFL Reserve League included 27 clubs right from the beginning which were split into two divisions. However, from 2019-20 some of the bigger entities including Aberdeen, Rangers and Celtic decided to split from the league and concentrate on their under-20 teams with the new edition being run with just 19 clubs instead.
Crowds are low and the lack of Old Firm talent detracts from the competition to a degree. However, matches are taken very seriously and provide us with some very good betting opportunities as well as handing the clubs involved a chance to promote talented players to their respective first-team squads.
Read our guide to betting on the Scottish Reserve League.
Betting on the Scottish Reserve League
Backing up the league season is the SPFL Reserve Cup which may still feature teams from the major clubs not included in the league itself.
As of 2019-20, 19 teams were included in the SPFL Reserve League season which was split into a top division of ten teams and the second division of nine.
The 10 top division reserve teams play each other once at home and once away to complete an 18-game season. Quite simply, the team at the top at the end of the season is crowned champions and there is, of course, no further reward and no promotion offered to this team.
The league itself, and especially the teams involved, may change rapidly every year depending on who competes and which players are improving and are capable of playing first-team football.
The SPFL Reserve League’s Biggest Teams
After the breakaway of Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Hibernian the overall quality quickly dipped in this league. However, some of the most historic clubs in Scotland and indeed in Britain overall remain.
Included in the 2019-20 SPFL were teams representing Hamilton, Hearts, Dundee United, Kilmarnock and Motherwell while it is still hoped more of the major names return in future as this is a competition very much still in its infancy.
Key Betting Markets in the Scottish Reserve Leagues
The stats are interesting in the SPFL Reserve League. During the curtailed 2019-20 season, the first since the major clubs left this league, 3.76 goals per game were scored which is a very high figure overall but not that unusual for a reserve league.
The lack of pressure, certain mismatches occurring and the changing nature of the teams involved can mean games remain open and high-scoring and that is definitely a good thing from a betting point of view.
50% of all games during the season were won by home sides, a higher figure than expected, while 21% were drawn and 29% went the way of the away side.
Favourites won wound 60% of all games played in the SPFL, though the figure is even higher when you consider only games won and taking out those drawn, while both teams scored in a single game on only around half of the matches played meaning we should stay away from the Both Teams to Score coupon.
With everything we’ve learned taken into account, here are the best ways to play the SPFL Reserve League:
- Match Winner – draws are not unduly low in this league, but around 80% of all games do produce a result and so backing teams on the nose and including them in accumulators can pay off. The heavy success of favourites and the relative success of away teams means we don’t have to rely on homers either. Simply backing favourites with a genuine statistical advantage according to the league table or recent form can be quite reliable here.
- Total Goals – at 3.76 goals per game things are clearly quite entertaining here. With that in mind, and with no need to pick a winner and take a short price, backing over 2.5 or even over 3.5 goals in a game can be the way to go. This is especially true when one or more of the top five or six are playing as they are the ones lifting up the average for the whole league, though stay away from BTTS.
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