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Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has angered supporters of some clubs in the Premier League by paying out on Manchester City to win the title after only fifteen games of the season have been played. Though they have an eight point lead over city rivals Manchester United, the Red Devils could reduce that to five points if they win the Manchester derby on Sunday.
Though City are 1/9 on to win the title and United are 9/1, stranger things have happened in the Premier League than Manchester United hauling back their fierce rivals in a bid for the title. With José Mourinho in the Old Trafford dugout it’s even more foolhardy of Paddy Power to throw the towel in at a cost of around half a million pound.
Why They’ve Decided To Do It
According to a press release, the company have decided to pay out on Manchester City winning the Premier League title because they are ‘sick of waiting around’. The Cityzens boast a healthy eight point lead going into the Manchester derby, with odds likely to shorten even further in the event that they emerge from Old Trafford with all three points at the weekend.
Given that the season isn’t even halfway to being complete, however, it does seem risky of the bookie to pay out on bets for City to win the ultimate prize in English football. A Paddy Power spokesperson said that they have ‘bought into the hype’ and that they just can’t see any sides ‘who will come close to Pep’s lads this season’.
Early Payouts Can Backfire
There has been precedent for bookmakers paying out early and ending up with egg on their face. Even Paddy Power themselves have been guilty of it in the past, paying out early on Hilary Clinton to win the Presidential election in the United States of America, only to see Donald Trump end up as the unlikely victor. That stunt was believed the have cost them around £800,000.
In the world of football, meanwhile, Paddy Power could have taken a leaf out of Fred Done’s book before deciding that City’s lead was unassailable. The Manchester United supporter and owner of Betfred decided to pay out on his beloved Red Devils beating Arsenal to the title back in 1998, becoming the first bookie to give an early payout on the Premier League winners.
At the time, United had a twelve point lead over the Gunners only to falter in the closing weeks of the season. Arsene Wenger’s men, meanwhile, kept on picking up the points and ended up pipping them to the title. If United, who had won the previous two Premier League titles prior to the 1997-1998 season, could drop twelve points, might not City also be vulnerable?
‘Brave & Stupid’
Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince, who is the Paddy Power ambassador, believes that the company that he works for are being both ‘brave and stupid’ in choosing to pay out early on Manchester City winning the title. He rightly pointed to the fact that the season isn’t even halfway over yet, meaning that there’s plenty of football still to be played.
Ince also drew attention to defending Premier League champions Chelsea, who finished fifteen points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side last time out. Antonio Conte remains in charge of the London club and his side is hot on the heels of Manchester United, so they could yet prove to be a fly in the ointment for the Spaniard as he searches for his first English title.
Just Like Watching Barcelona
Paddy Power have never been shy of making headline grabbing decisions, such as offering odds on the first animal to be declared extinct after the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They’ve opted for a similarly offensive approach to this decision, saying that watching Manchester City is just like watching Pep’s Barcelona side, as long as you ignore the ‘sky blue shirts and Manc accents’.
The decision, they say, is a reward for all of the punters who knew that City would ‘walk it’ this time out. If they end up being wrong on the call then it’s likely to cost them £500,000, but that may well be less than they’d lose if they allowed people to carry on betting on the Cityzens to win the title, even if the odds of 1/9 aren’t exactly high enough for bettors to feel as though they’re printing money.