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Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 06:51 GMT 07:51 UK


Bookies count cost of treble glory

You can bet your life they are not bookmakers

Manchester United's European Cup glory night was not welcomed by everyone in the UK.

Bookmakers in particular will have woken up this morning nursing a treble headache.

United's Euro Showdown
William Hill is predicting United's unprecedented achievement in the lifting the Premiership trophy, FA Cup and European Cup treble will cost the betting industry £10m.

One United fan from Lichfield, Staffordshire, had mixed feeling after the Red Devils' Nou Camp victory.

He collected £157,000 from a stake of just £2.50, with the European Cup victory completing a 62,800-1 accumulator spread over 14 events.

Double your money

But if Bayern had won he would have been able to pick up more than £300,000.

[ image: Soon to be Sir Alex?]
Soon to be Sir Alex?
Overall though a German victory would have done the bookies a big favour.

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "We were over the moon when it looked as if Bayern were going to clinch it and all I can say now is that we are sick as a parrot."

He said: "This United treble is football's equivalent of Frankie Dettori winning all seven races at Ascot a couple of years ago.

"Thousands of small money punters staked bets on United to win one, two or three major trophies. We'll probably still be paying out until the start of next season."

Arise Sir Alex?

Determined not to be caught out by United fans again, William Hill has now slashed the odds on Alex Ferguson being knighted within a year from 50-1 to 2-1.

They are offering 66-1 on United repeating the treble next season.

Bookies are not the only ones resenting the red rampage.

[ image: Paul]
Birmingham radio presenter Paul Franks promised way back in August to host his breakfast show in the nude from the roof of his studio if United won the European Cup.

His bosses at BBC Radio WM have relented and agreed to allow Franks to wear his boxer shorts when he goes up on the roof of the Pebble Mill studio around 0830 BST.

'How wrong I was'

"Why did I open my big mouth? United failed last season and, not being their greatest fan, I was confident they'd fall at the final hurdle this season as well," said the 41-year-old presenter.

BBC WM managing editor David Robey said: "Paul loves a laugh, but now the last laugh is on him. Never has there been such support in the West Midlands for Man United."

Another man who must have had very mixed feelings as United came back from the dead to win 2-1 was Brian Kidd.

Kidd - who scored for United in the 1968 European Cup final - gave up his lucrative job as Alex Ferguson's assistant just before Christmas to take over at struggling Blackburn Rovers.

Despite spending £20m Kidd's Blackburn were relegated from the Premiership while his old charges at Old Trafford ended up with the treble.

Kidd's place at Ferguson's right hand went to Steve McClaren, who came from Derby County where he had been assistant to Jim Smith.

Spare also a thought for the other half of Manchester.

While United are making history Manchester City are struggling to scramble out of the Second Division and must beat Gillingham in Sunday's play-off final.

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