So you're sitting at home watching the tv on a Sunday afternoon and you fancy having a bet, but aren't sure what to bet on?
Let us steer you towards the wonderful world of late bookings!
Last-Minute Bookings -Spain or Italy?
Ever watched a football match in the pub and you've seen someone getting excited when the ref books a player for not retreating ten yards? Well more than likely that person was a spread-betting devotee who had bought the bookings index for that match!
What Is The Bookings Index? -The bookings index allots 10 points for each yellow card and 25 points for each red card issued during the course of a game, which for Premiership games the spread is usually set at around 35-38 at the start of a match.
With just a couple of minutes remaining in a game, the spread will be at around 5 points over the current total -let's say there has been six bookings so far in the game (so the total currently stands at 60) and the spread is 62-65. So if you buy at this point then you are wagering 5 points (if your units are £1, then it's £5 that you are staking).
This means on average between 3-4 bookings each game.
Any booking now will immediately double your stake and every booking after that will win you £10 -and if there are any sendings-off then that will be £25 into your account!
Why Get On So Near The End? -Many of these bookings take place very late in the game, when tempers are frayed and the match may be slipping away from one of the teams involved. As the clock ticks away, tackles become far more frenzied, the game stretches out as legs become weary and of course the time-wasting tactics come into play.
What To Look For In The Game -Before you get involved the action, you need to consider several factors that will help you read the situation and bet smartly.
The Latin Temperament -Spanish and Italian football matches have a habit of producing a vast amount of yellow and red cards compared to Europe's other professional leagues. This is often reflected in the bookings spreads offered by the major firms such as Sporting Index, IG Index and Spreadex -with a typical bookings spread in Spain being set at 66-70 as opposed to around 36-40 for a Premiership match.
Watch The Clock -How much time is actually remaining? If the referee's watch says it's the 89 th minute, but he decides to play 5 mins of added time then you're getting excellent value for your money. It's difficult to recall a televised Italian game where someone didn't get booked in 5 mins of stoppage time. So keep an eye of the number of injuries, substitutions and general stoppages in play -as these may add up to a very healthy amount of added time.
Is The Game Still Competitive? -Once the game is lost then unless the players have a score to settle then they usually ease off and the game becomes a little pedestrian. Take for example Barcelona v Levante (24/2/08), after an hour Barca were 4-1 ahead and the game was effectively over -there were no bookings in this game. A good rule of thumb is that if there's only a goal in it then the bookings may flow. Remember, as the number of bookings increase -then so does the likelihood of a 'second yellow' red card.
Has It Turned Nasty? -Although footballers are often criticised for being short of intelligence, they do have long memories (e.g. Roy Keane on Alfie Harland). A bad tackle in a game is nearly always repaid with interest! If a game starts to bubble up then a brawl can ensue at any time -these affairs are excellent for sendings-off, as the referee always likes to even things up. Sometimes you get the feeling that the red mist will descend sooner rather than later -that's the time to buy the bookings index!
The Man In The Middle -The referee is the one person who can make or break your spread-betting day when you follow the bookings index. If there are any stats available on his performances then look up his cards average to see how strict he has been recently.
Also watch the game and the tackles that go in early -is he trying to let the game flow like Howard Webb might, or is he being pedantic like Mike Riley?
A Late Goal -This is our friend, as it often leads to strife in one form or another. In last season's CH5 televised match between Juventus and Fiorentina, an added time winner by the Fiorentina striker Osvaldo led to frenzied celebrations by the away side -during which the goalscorer removed his shirt. This impromptu strip earned him his second yellow card in five minutes, ultimately a red card and 25 points for the index!
A History Of Violence -Is there any history between the teams? It is always worth checking out the corresponding fixture earlier in the season or even last season. You can do this on the European section of the football pages on the BBC Sport website -where you can see the whole season's Italian and Spanish results & bookings.
Local derbies such as Milan (AC v Inter), Rome (Lazio v Roma) and Madrid (Real v Atletico) always have the potential to make the Old Firm Derby look like a girls under 8's match!
Look At The State Of That Pitch -If the ball is bouncing high due to hard ground then it will inevitably make control difficult and lead to late tackles -whereas wet conditions will lead to slide tackles which are always good for a booking or two.
Where Can I See All The Action? -Sky, Setanta and CH5 all show the action from La Liga and Serie A on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and Sunday afternoon.
What Are You Waiting For? -You need to be quite disciplined for this index, don't just jump in straight after a booking. Set a time to buy (maybe 80 mins or 88 mins are always good points at which to get involved) and also set a profit target where you will get out if it is achieved -this applies more to the 80 minute involvement point.