So, they did it. Leicester City are the Premier League champions, and Claudio Ranieri’s men have sealed their place in the history books. And at odds of 5,000/1, they are the biggest underdog story of all time. But let’s set one thing straight, the bookies have not been bashed… or, at least, not to the level people are saying.
Reports suggest that the bookies are paying out £20m on Leicester winning the title. But not one person became a millionaire, which means not one person put £200 on the antepost selection. Of course, £20m looks like a massive figure, but let’s put it into perspective.
For every Leicester fan that put a cheeky £2 bet on in blind optimism, there are at least 13 others placing bets on other teams that seemingly had no chance. In fact, the fact the Foxes have a relatively modest fanbase compared to a Newcastle, for example, means that figure is probably inflated.
Then, the six teams that were considered as potential candidates all lost too. Not only will the fans of those clubs backed their heroes, but regular punters will have backed them too. I wouldn’t even attempt to put a number on it, but it will be significant.
Meanwhile, pretty much every pre-season acca will have been ruined by the outcome. Burnley, Wigan and Northampton would have all appeared prominently in those antepost accas. How many would have been completed by a selection of Chelsea or Manchester City? A lot.
More importantly, it’s important to remember that bookies play the long game. Thanks to Leicester, firms will rake even greater sums of wasted money on fantasy bets in future years. Hundreds of bets have already been placed on Burnley to win the title next season, and that’s bound to continue with other clubs. Punters will think “£2 could win me £10,000, just like Leicester”; in truth, they’d be better off playing the Euromillions.
I don’t doubt for a second that the bookies have taken a hit. However, in reality, the true cost will be far less than the inflated figures being reported. And the firms are loving those stories, because it will influence punters in the future. They might have been burnt once, but the bookies will happily take those 5,000/1 shots next season. It will not happen again, and those wasted fivers are far less of a threat than logical bets like the ones we post on this site.
If you’re in a habit of backing your club for interest, then don’t stop. But if you are seriously thinking about placing £10 on Burnley or someone next term, then don’t. Leicester was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.