News Mike Ashley has mellowed in recent years, so his stake in Debenhams surprised the City

The Sports Direct tycoon is well known for keeping rivals guessing. Simon Neville attempts to unravel his stakebuilding plan for Debenhams

How cricket can be bought off when the bets go on

The spread better's story: An author on the craze says potential earnings and dangers are both unlimited

Large wad for McManus horse

Sports betting: Scotland value wager

AFTER THEIR comfortable 2-0 victory at Hampden Park, it is no surprise to see England odds-on favourites to win the second leg of their Euro 2000 play-off against Scotland at Wembley tomorrow night. Scotland will have to chase the game on foreign soil and a home win is the most probable outcome. However, bearing in mind the undeniable fact that, if Scotland are a goal up or it is all square with 15 minutes to go, winning on the night is the last thing Kevin Keegan's men will have on their minds, bets both on Scotland to win and a draw in 90 minutes seem prudent. England are now a top-priced 10-1 to go on to win Euro 2000. The Czech Republic, recommended here at 50-1 at the outset, are a top- priced 16-1.

Sports betting: Draw a good option for Warsaw clash

LUXEMBOURG IS one thing, Poland is another. England had predictably little bother in rolling over Saturday's hapless visitors to Wembley but, although they beat Poland convincingly at home, Kevin Keegan's depleted squad faces a much tougher task in Warsaw tomorrow against a nation which took all six points in their two encounters with Bulgaria in Group Five and promise to provide an extremely tough test for England on their home soil.

Book Review: On Sports Betting And How To Make It Pay By Derek McGovern

On Sports Betting And How To Make It Pay By Derek McGovern Rowton Press pounds 18.00, Hardback

Racing: Scoop6 slowly away

SCOOP6, THE Tote's twice-as-expensive-to-enter-as-the- National-Lottery-and-several-times-harder-to-understand new multiple bet, got off to a slow start on Saturday when the pool failed to reach its pounds 250,000 guarantee and had no winner.

Sports Betting: Test draw on cards

THE WEATHER forecast this week is kinder than the Lord's wicket can be at times, but even so the draw looks the best bet in the second Test, which starts on Thursday.

All bets are off as Millennium racing is cancelled

A RE-RUN of National Velvet on BBC2 may be the best that Britain's horse-racing industry can hope for on Millennium Day, thanks to the reluctance of staff to work on 1 January 2000.

The race is on for the Tote

With the state-owned bookmaker in line for a sell-off, horse-racing rivals are already jockeying for the lead, writes Dan Gledhill

SKB to shed 800 jobs in shake-up

TWO HUNDRED and forty jobs are to go at pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beecham's Worthing factory as part of plans to cut the worldwide workforce of 58,000 by 800.

Racing: Tote cuts its minimum dividend to pounds 1.05

THE MINIMUM win dividend on the Tote has has been cut from pounds 1.10 to pounds 1.05 for a pounds 1 stake. The change comes into effect on any horse where the true dividend - after deduction and payment to racecourses - would be equal to or less than 90 pence.

Outlook: Tote conundrum

O THE TOTE is going to be privatised, is it? Jack Straw's short statement announcing the privatisation yesterday appeared to decide the matter once and for all, but in truth this is just the beginning. It is all very well for the Government to agree in principle to the sale, but the real issue - that of who owns the Tote - has yet to be resolved. Until it is, nothing can happen. Certainly there is no possibility of sale this side of a general election, for any such disposal will require legislation.

Tote sale splits racing industry

THE GOVERNMENT is set to announce that it is selling the Tote as a single entity, but exactly how horse-racing's pool betting business will be sold, and to whom, is still subject to tensions both in Whitehall and the City.
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