THE title celebrations will have to wait until at least tonight, but there’s now not much standing in the way of Leicester City and the English Premier League championship.
In perhaps the greatest underdog story of all time, the Foxes were a $5001-1 chance of winning the league title at the start of the season, but, after the weekend’s draw with Manchester United left them needing either Tottenham to lose, or another two points from the final two games.
Had the Foxes grabbed all three points, they would have been crowned champions at Old Trafford, in what would have been an embarrassment for the Premier League’s most popular club, but it wasn’t to be, Wes Morgan cancelling out Anthony Martial’s eighth minute goal on 17, with a dour defensive tussle soured by Danny Drinkwater’s red card.
The Foxes are still top, but now have to wait on tonight’s result between Tottenham and Chelsea.
Tottenham must win to keep their title hopes alive and force the Foxes to wait another week.
Most people who haven’t backed the Foxes in will hope that happens, to ensure the lustre of the title race lasts at least another week.
It’s been a sensational season from the club, who started out given just an 0.2 per cent chance of winning it all.
But there were 25 punters with online bookmaker WilliamHill.com.au who liked those odds, backing the Foxes to win the title at the $5001 price.
Forty per cent of all those wagers placed at $5001 have now been cashed out, however $67 remains – which will pay out $366,612 to those who have been brave enough to see their bet through to the bitter end.
The bookmaker has unmasked one of the punters who took on the odds, 39-year-old Leigh Herbert, who as a teenager, used to work at Leicester’s Filbert Street ground.
Spurred by the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as manager, Herbert had a sneaky 10er on his beloved club.
He’s already claimed part of his winnings, cashing out $4 worth of his wager for a massive $10,000, but stands to win a further $28000 if they can win the title.
“I am a big Leicester fan and I strongly believe they will go on to win the Premier League,” Herbert said.
“But my fiancée has made me acknowledge that sometimes you have to make decisions with both your head and your heart.
“I still have a decent chunk on Leicester and will be watching this go down to the wire.”
William Hill’s largest international individual payout will be to Guildford’s (UK) gutsiest punter, who wagered $140 at $1501 when the season was just a few weeks old.
He has not cashed out and so stands to win over $215,000.
The total returns for wagers placed at $1501 is over $1,430,000.
Globally, William Hill have taken over $725,000 on Leicester and following $692,500 worth of cash outs the final payout when/should Leicester lift the trophy currently stands at over $5.7 million.
The loss to the bookmaking industry stands at around $20 million, which would be easily the biggest in Premier League history.
“We stand to lose a small fortune if Leicester do what everybody must now be expecting them to do,” a William Hill spokesperson said.
“$5001 is the biggest priced winner in betting history!”
Ranieri isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch – Tottenham is still $15 to win.
“I want to win. It’s not important when, believe me,” Ranieri said today.
“If I have a chance to win tonight, for us it is important to win.
“Juventus won (the title) on Monday in Italy (after Napoli lost to Roma). Why not?
“In my mind Tottenham will win all three matches.
“I am now focused on the Everton match.
“When I was Chelsea manager, the true derby was against Tottenham.
“It’s a derby.
“I want to speak about the next match (against) Everton.
“I know all the city is blue, but we must continue to stay concentrated without special fireworks.
“We have to stay there, on the pitch, and think there will be another tough match.”
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has just signed a huge five year deal to stay at White Hart Lane, reckons his charges can still get over the line.
“It is difficult to stop the excitement they have now in Leicester. That can be dangerous,” Pochettino said.
“I hope that it is, but we need to win our game and do our job.
“It is not easy, it is difficult, but we need to believe.
“The most important thing is not only that Leicester drop points but we need to win our game.
“We can feel a little bit disappointed because the gap behind Leicester is big, but realistically we have a very good, young squad.
“If it is not possible to win the title this season, we need to try this season and the next season after.
“The potential of the club and the squad we have is massive, and the important thing is to build the project and philosophy and to settle the basis.
“The basis is now very solid and only the future can be brilliant.”
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