‘Celebrate with champagne’
Betfred boss Fred Done told Blues fans to “go out and celebrate with champagne on New Year’s Eve” after he announced the UK-based sportsbook would be paying out early on Manchester City to win the English Premier League (EPL).
Done announced the news live on Betfred TV Wednesday just hours ahead of City’s 1-0 victory over Brentford and Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion.
Betfred shared Done’s live interview via Twitter, saying the “boss has seen enough”:
The early payout is a relatively risky move on Done’s part, with 18 games still left for City and Chelsea, and other title contender Liverpool with 19. Nevertheless, the brand will pay City backers anywhere between £3m ($4m) and £4m ($5.4m) worth of winnings.
highlighting the points gap City had opened at the top of the league
The Betfred boss, or gaffer as they say across the Pond, was supremely confident in his decision, highlighting the points gap City had opened at the top of the league ahead of Wednesday night’s games. “They’ve scored 17 goals in the last three games […] plus in my opinion they’ve got the current best manager in the world.”
“Go and get paid now online or in my shops” Done suggested.
Done has form
Paying out early is something of a Betfred modus operandi. In 2020 “Fearless” Fred decided to pay out winning bets to Joe Biden backers as early as November 5 in the US Presidential election. Done was proven right, but his firm drew fire from miffed bettors who were eyeing the theoretical fortune they could make on the super-long odds for the incumbent and now former US President Donald Trump.
Fearless Fred’s early-worm form hasn’t always gone his way, however. In 2012, Done opted to pay out early on Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, with Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie et al, to lift the EPL trophy. Enter Manchester City, who on the final day of the 2012 season scored a goal in the dying embers of stoppage time to take the silverware to the blue side of Manchester.
When Done named City the winner halfway through the 2017 season, he told the media it was “painful both for the heart and the wallet […] but the Blues look unstoppable so I’m giving the [backers] an early Christmas present.”
Mixed thoughts from managers
Despite Betfred calling it early, City manager Pep Guardiola is more circumspect. After Wednesday’s win, with City eight points clear at the top of the table, the Spaniard thanked a BBC Sports journalist for his “nice words” during an interview but added “I am not going to believe any words you say” about the EPL title race being over.
Chelsea’s manager Thomas Tuchel admitted after his franchise’s draw Wednesday night that he would be “stupid” to think his side can challenge for the EPL title, citing a number of inactive players because of injuries and COVID-19.
After Liverpool lost 0-1 to Leicester on Tuesday, manager Jurgen Klopp said if his team continues to play like that “we cannot think about catching up with City.” He is not entirely throwing in the towel, though. Klopp said if “we can win games, we can see how many points we can get and what that means.”
With COVID-19 ripping through EPL teams, the English soccer season still has many games, twists, and turns ahead. The Betfred gaffer, however, thinks it’s already a done deal.