The history of the Football Pools
It was recently announced that The Football Pools are being sold by Sportech to a group of gambling industry investors for £97.25 million.
The Football Pools began 93 years ago and was once the main way for Brits to gamble on football, with around 10 million player taking part at their peak. The pools became popular as they were cheap to enter, with the potential to win a very large sum of money. Entries would originally be submitted via post or collector agents, and now there is the option to play online. Agents would have a certain area to collect and would be paid a share of every ticket sale. The most famous game entered was the ‘Treble Chance’, where players would pick 10, 11, or 12 football games from the weekend to finish as a draw in which each team scores at least two goals. The top prize for this would be £3 million, and players could win the whole sum or just a share.
Littlewoods was the first company to start selling pools, selling them outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground in 1923. A group of gamblers became the first winners of a prize over £1 million in 1986. In 2007, Sportech brought Littlewoods, Veronons and Zetters under the brand ‘The New Football Pools’ which is now known as ‘The Football Pools’. Sportech introduced small stake, high prize games such as Premier 10 and Jackpot 12. The Football Pools also donate a lot to charity; over £1.1 billion to sports-related causes.
The current Classic Pools game, which is based in the old Treble Chance game, uses a scoring scheme which awards three points to matches where both teams score the same number of goals, two points to matches where neither team score a goal and one point to matches where the home team score more goals than the away team. The total score of each line is then calculated and the player can win up to a maximum of 24 points. Players with higher scoring lines can be awarded a large portion of the prize pool.
One of the most famous winners of the Football Pools includes Viv Nicholson, a West Yorkshire factory worker, who along with her husband, won £152,319 (the equivalent of £3.1m today).
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