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IT IS the squeaky clean music competion full of jolly ditties but this year it seems that a darker and altogether more murky side has developed to the Eurovision Song Contest, writes Kate Watson-Smyth.

Rumours that the Germans are planning to cheat have led to bookmakers William Hill slashing the odds of victory for their entry from 50/1 to 12/1.

"We don't believe the competition can be influenced in this way but we've taken so much cash for Guildo Horn, the German contestant, that we have had to cut the odds on six occasions already and may even end up with it becoming a clear favourite," said spokesmand Graham Sharpe.

Although not taken entirely seriously in this country, the contest which gave rise to hits like "Boom-Bang-A-Bang" and "La La La" has a huge following in the rest of Europe and Germany has not won since 1982.

Hundreds of Mr Horn's fans plan to travel to Holland, Belgium and Denmark to vote for him on foreign soil. By doing so they hope to get around the rules which allow viewers to phone in for the winner but not for their own country.

But a spokeswoman for Eurovision said it was impossible to rig the voting.

The entry for Guildo Horn and his band, the Orthopaedic Stockings is called "Piep, piep, piep, Guildo loves you". On Saturday we will find out whether the rest of Europe loves him back.