Football: Bookies face pounds 10m red devil of a day

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The Independent Online
BRITISH BOOKMAKERS stand to lose pounds 10m if Manchester United complete a historic treble by winning today's FA Cup and Wednesday's European Cup to add to the Premiership title they secured last Sunday.

"We badly need Manchester United to lose one of the three, so a Newcastle win today would be a very good thing," Graham Sharpe of William Hill said yesterday. Sharpe added, however, that the public do not fancy Ruud Gullit's side, and said that Hills had taken only pounds 120 in total on a Newcastle win (in 90 minutes) before this week.

The other United have been heavily backed. On Thursday, one Hills customer wagered pounds 65,000 at 4-9 on Alex Ferguson's side, and will win pounds 28,000 if they lift the FA Cup.

Others stand to reap much higher relative dividends if the treble is achieved, having taken odds at 100-1 at the start of the season. Sharpe said it was impossible to say what the total liabilities might be. "A lot of punters have pounds 5 or pounds 10 on that kind of thing," Sharpe said. "We won't know how many until our shops tell us after Wednesday."

One Red Devils fan from Staffordshire is unlikely to tell many of his fellow supporters about his divided loyalties on Wednesday. He will pick up pounds 157,000 if United win, but pounds 314,000 if Bayern Munich do.

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