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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 11:33 GMT
Belfast 'favourite' for culture title
A leading UK bookmaker has placed Belfast as favourite to become the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

William Hill is offering odds of 10/3 on Northern Ireland's capital city taking the title ahead of its closest rivals, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Serena Momberg from William Hill said that it was going to be a closely fought contest.

"This looks like being a close book, there are so many factors that could swing it for the competing towns or cities - all have their own strengths and weaknesses," she said.

Geroge Best
George Best: Backing Belfast's bid for European City of Culture

"You've got George Best as a celebrity backer for Belfast so it is going to be very interesting and we are predicting that we will take quite a lot of bets on it."

It is the first time the bookmakers have offered odds on the event and competition from Newcastle with its current regeneration programme and Liverpool's legendary music tradition will be strong.

Other odds being offered on contending cities include Cardiff at 6/1, Birmingham at 8/1, Bristol at 12/1, Oxford at 14/1, Brighton and Hove, Canterbury and Inverness, all at 16/1, Bradford and Norwich at 20/1 and Milton Keynes 25/.

The decision will be taken by the Institute of the European Union in 2004.

See also:

25 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Belfast's culture bid under way
17 Jan 98 | Europe
City of culture but no snow
08 May 01 | Wales
City's culture bid under attack
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