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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?