Bookmakers suspend betting on Benitez exit

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The Independent Football

Leading bookmakers are refusing to take bets on Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez leaving the club.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams is reported as saying: "We'd be very surprised if Rafa is still boss by midnight on Sunday." The bookmaker added that they were awaiting a statement from Liverpool before reopening the market.

Benitez had been a 20/1 outsider to be the next Premier League manager to go, but a flurry of activity led to today's decision to suspend betting.

The Spaniard, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, has been in talks over a new contract for some time. A major sticking point in negotiations stems from Benitez's demand for greater control over the club's transfer policy.

The timing of the news could not be worse, with Liverpool set to face Real Madrid in the Champions League later tonight. With Liverpool's title bid stuttering, defeat at the last-16 stage of the Champions League would likely heap pressure on Benitez.

Benitez has tried to dampen the significance of his team's games against Real: "You have to judge a manager on his career, not one or two games," he is quoted as saying in the Liverpool Daily Post. "If you have to decide a manager’s future on one or two games, I don’t think that’s the best decision."