WELL, the football season is now in full swing, with bloodshed, controversies over “simulation” and Sir Alex Ferguson laying into his rivals. It’s like it never went away, isn’t it? The big boys get into action this week with the start of the Champions League, and football fans will be eager to see if Real Madrid’s summer splurge will pay dividends. Whatever, it’s sure to be fun finding out. <br /><br />For spread betters, the obvious bet is on who will be lifting the big cup on Saturday 22 May in the Bernabeu. Most of the money in the British market has been, unsurprisingly, heading towards Real Madrid and Chelsea with “little love for Liverpool or Arsenal”, according to the bookies. <br /><br />The prices reflect this, of course. Extrabet offers a 60 Index on the competition, with 60 for the winner, 40 for the runner-up, 30 for losing semi-finalists, 20 for quarter finalists and nothing for those who fail to get out of the group stage.<br /><br />The favourite is Barcelona, with a spread of 25-28, a few points ahead of Chelsea, whose spread of 22-25 is exactly the same as the price for Real Madrid. Man Utd are on 21-24. <br /><br />However, a little spread betting birdie tells me that Lyon are getting some interest. The French side has made the quarter-finals in three of the past four years, and won the French championship every year from 2002-2008. A spread of 14-17 might be an attractive option. <br /><br />Alternatively, Sporting Index have a 100 Index on the tournament (100 for the winner, 75 for the runner-up, 50 for the semi-finalist, 25 for quarter-finalists, 10 for reaching the last 16, and 0 for others). Top of the pile are Barcelona with 42-45, followed by Chelsea and Real Madrid, both on 40-43, with Man Utd close behind on 36-39, Arsenal on 32-35 and Liverpool on 30-33. <br /><br />If that is all a bit dull for you then Sporting also offers a bet for how many miles from the Bernabeu the trophy will end up. The spread is 650-670, which could turn out to be a big earner if you think that galactico-heavy Real – whose home ground the Bernabeu is, of course – pick up the trophy next year. Barcelona, by the way is 310 miles from Madrid, London 783, Liverpool 886 and Manchester 905. <br /><strong><br />CRICKETING CHANCES<br /></strong>If you prefer to take your chances on cricket, then the ICC Championship, which starts in South Africa on Wednesday, offers some good punting possibilities.<br /><br />The top eight one-day sides in the world will be in action, and again the main market is the winners 50 Index, offered by Extrabet. With 50 for the winner, 25 for the runner-up and 10 for losing semi-finalists, South Africa top the list with a spread of 15-18, with Australia on 14-17. England, unsurprisingly, have a pitiful spread of 6-9, mainly on the grounds that a strong side is unlikely to turn up. <br /><br />Sri Lanka are picking up some interest because of the strength of their attack, and could be looking tasty on 11-14. Betting on the outcome of one-day cricket is not everybody’s bag, as it can be a bit of a lottery (unless England are playing, that is). If that’s the case, then some of the more quirky bets could be up your street. <br /><br />From the tournament’s 15 matches, Extrabet have spreads on the total number of wides, at 222-237, the total number of sixes hit, at 95-100, total run-outs of 20-22 and total ducks of 20-22. <br /><br />Just to put that in a bit of context, in the last Championships Trophy in India there were 250 wides and 38 sixes in the 15 main tournament matches.