The best sporting minds of Fleet Street have been outdone by the Crewe Guardian in Press Gazette’s Betfair World Cup betting challenge.
The online bookmaker gave an initial 40 teams of journalists £250 each at the start of the World Cup to gamble using its unique betting system. This allowed them to lay bets against other punters, bet on teams to lose and continue placing bets while games were in play.
The Crewe Guardian’s softly-softly strategy of building up a pot of cash before betting the farm on Italy to win on penalties in the final game gave them a winning prize fund of £1,837.40. This will be matched by Betfair to make a pay-out of £3,674.80 for Crewe-based charity The Railway Children.
Chief reporter Mark Hilditch said: “We were about second or third going into the last game, so we just whacked everything on Italy and hoped for the best.
“It was a good laugh and made the World Cup more interesting – not that it wasn’t already. And it’s always better when you’re betting with someone else’s money.”
Betfair spokesman Alex Eade said: “With 42 entrants from as far afield as Glasgow to Bournemouth, Betfair is very happy with the way the competition has gone and we have more than achieved our aim, which was to spread awareness of Betfair and its unique product across the sporting press.
“Not only was it a bit of fun for all those involved, but we hope it has demonstrated how a fast-moving Betfair market can provide an excellent barometer of public opinion and just how wildly odds can change in play.
“Australia for example were at match odds of 70 when they were 1-0 down against Japan before coming back to win 3-1. There was similar carnage when they eventually succumbed to a very late Italian penalty.”
Bruce Millington’s team from The Racing Post took an early lead with some shrewd punting and a strategy of making small gains often.
Their arch rivals, The Sportsman propped up the bottom of the table for some time, but eventually punted their way back to respectability. The baton was soon taken up by a number of high-rolling teams, most notably Patrick Weaver’s from The Express. They employed an all-or-nothing strategy and backed their opinions with large sums of cash.”
The Crewe Guardian team also win tickets to watch England play Pakistan at Lords.