United win first leg of treble and the bookmakers see red

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MANCHESTER UNITED fans were jubilant last night after their team clinched the Premiership title by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1.

Old Trafford resounded to deafening cheers as Alex Ferguson's players went on a lap of honour around the ground. It was the fifth time they had been crowned champions in seven years.

United's triumph also means that the Reds have completed the first part of what could be an unprecedented treble in English football: they have the finals of the FA Cup and the European Champions' League to come over the next 10 days.

The win brought rich rewards for some loyal fans. One man is pounds 567,000 better off after placing two pounds 50 accumulator bets with bookmakers Corals last August on the victors in the four English and three Scottish football leagues. His winnings are believed to be the biggest recorded from a football bet. The man, from Basingstoke, even managed to prevent the taxman from taking a slice of his winnings by paying tax on his stake.

Another punter collected pounds 51,000 from a pounds 8.50 bet that successfully predicted all eight divisional winners in England and Scotland last July. And Kevin McCarron, 23, a student from Birmingham, scooped pounds 10,764 for a pounds 1 stake on the same bet placed last July.

Bookmakers William Hill said yesterday that a treble by United could cost the industry more than pounds 5m. At the start of the season, United were 66/1 to achieve the treble, but the odds have plummeted to 6/4.

At Worcester, Australia secured a comfortable win over Scotland in the cricket World Cup. In Formula One, Michael Schumacher raced to victory in Monte Carlo for the fourth time in six years.

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