Almost killed off by the National Lottery, The Football Pools is alive and well and still in its original Liverpool home after almost 100 years and has signed up Liverpool legend Michael Owen. Tony McDonough reports
Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker Michael Owen is to be the face of The Football Pools in its 100th season.
Based in Walton in Liverpool, the Pools was founded in the city in 1923 by tycoon Sir John Moores. Then called Littlewoods Pools it was regarded as the best way of getting rich quickly by generations of Brits. But it was almost killed off by the launch of the National Lottery in 1994.
However, the game staged a remarkable recovery and now it is celebrating its 100th by giving away 10,000 free games. Players can test their knowledge of team form and have the chance to join the elite club of Pools millionaires for free.
If they use their skill and judgement to correctly predict score draws, they could walk away with one of The Football Pools big cash prizes. These include a top weekly jackpot of £3m.
Michael Owen will be the face of the new season Classic Pools coupon 10,000 free game giveaway. The record-breaking striker turned pundit knows all about the power of 10 – he wore the lucky number throughout his career at Anfield, netting 158 goals for the Reds.
He will also be one of three new members on the Pools Panel. Michael said: “The Football Pools is an institution in this country that generations have grown up with.
“It’s an incredible achievement to be reaching its 100th season and by giving away these 10,000 games. Hopefully it will be an opportunity for lots of people to play for free and make it a really memorable one.”
Littlewoods Pools, which involved people having to forecast Saturday’s football results, proved a huge hit with the British public. Other companies joined the market in the 1920s including Zetters and Vernons Pools, also based in Liverpool. By the 1960s around 14m people played every week in the hope of getting rich.
In 1994 the National Lottery was launched and the number of people playing the game declined sharply. Few believed the pools would survive. However, a hard core of players stayed loyal.
Littlewoods Group sold its pools operation to Sportech for £160m in 2000. Sportech later acquired Vernons from Ladbrokes and Zetters. In 2008 it brought them under one brand – The Football Pools. In 2017 Sportech sold the Pools to FP Acquisitions in an £83m deal.
In its most recent published accounts, for the 12 months to December 31, 2020, The Football Pools reported revenues of just under £26m and a pre-tax loss of £4.8m.
Chief executive Derek Lloyd added: “We know how much people love the Pools. Match Days wouldn’t be the same without it for lots of players and families. So as we go into what is a landmark year for our company, we want them to have this game on us.”