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Champions League changes to impact bookies and bettors

Uefa has this week announced a raft of changes to European competition, with the new system, that is set to be in place from the 2018/19 season, designed to represent an evolution of the Champions League and Europa League.

Amongst the raft of changes, is one particular key example regarding kick off times, that could be of significant interest to both bookmakers and bettors alike.

Whilst being insistent that the formats from the group stage onwards will remain as they are, staggered start times of 17:55 GMT and 20:00 GMT in both competitions are set to come into force.

With Uefa simply stating “The new kick-off times will offer more viewing opportunities for fans while maximising media value,” what could the deeper ramifications be for bookies?

Alistair Gill, Sportsbook Commercial Relations Manager at Kindred Group, highlights some of the issues facing both the current and new formats: “There are a number of implications for us with kick offs staggered at 6pm and 8pm from 2018, with the majority of them being positive.

“The key one being, in line with UEFA’s intention of allowing fans to watch more football, is that it allows them to bet on more football in the process.

“Currently with all group stage matches kicking off at the same time, cannibalisation is an issue we struggle with as one individual game takes fans away from betting on other games that are on at the same time.

“With the staggered kick offs fans will be much more able to get involved in betting on a variety of games. It will be interesting to see the level of the impact however, with only 2 games kicking off in the 6pm slot and the other 6 still kicking off at the same time at 8pm.”

Whilst on the surface this could seem like a win win, what do these changes mean for accumulators? And will they decrease the value of potential cash out offerings in anyway?

Gill tentatively discusses potential negatives, with an assurance they could still be minimal: “One negative we are likely to see however is a drop in revenue from accumulators across the match round. With all matches currently kicking off at the same time, it is a perfect chance for punters to bet on all, or a large selection, of the games in an accumulator and not have to wait more than the length of one game for it to be resulted.

“The change may also decrease the value of our cash out offering, as there are a wide variety of situations with matches on at the different times, which will essentially remove Cash Out as a viable or attractive option for players.

“The longer the duration it takes to settle an accumulator, the less we are likely to see them. But again it will be interesting to see the actual level of impact this change has, as the matches are still running essentially back to back which should minimise this issue.”

One of the big winners of these changes is certain to be in-play betting, with back to back televised matches to open up more prospects for punters to live.

Concluding, Gill explains the additional revenues that could be felt in the industry as a result of the Uefa imposed changes: “Back to back matches should certainly open up the possibility of additional revenue. In-Play will be absolutely key here, as the staggered kick off times will allow our players to bet Live on more than one game per match round.

“Unsurprisingly, a huge driver of In-Play betting is the ability for a punter to be able to watch, follow or fully engage in the match they’re betting on. When they’re all on at the same time this will restrict a lot of players to Live betting one game, but this change will open that up to allow them, in practice, to do so on 2.”

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