Mike Rowbottom: IOC are not the gambler's best friend but London 2012 is still set to be bet bonanza
Friday, 10 February 2012
So how is the latest controversy, which has followed so swiftly upon the controversy of Fabio Capello's resignation as England manager, a decision triggered by the FA's controversial edict that John Terry be deprived of the national team captaincy until his own controversial legal battle against charges that he racially insulted a fellow player is resolved in July...
Anyway, how is the latest controversy affecting Pearce's chances of turning his temporary appointment for the match against Holland on February 29 into a permanent arrangement?
Well, according to a survey of the leading British bookmakers, the man formerly known as Psycho is still established firmly in second place behind the man who has just come through his own spot of legal bother over the legitimacy of a Monaco bank account, Harry Redknapp.
In betting terms, Redknapp is as close to a certainty to become Capello's long-term successor as a ball bouncing slowly along a goal-line is to being a goal. Take your pick of the odds – 1/3, 1/6, 2/5, 4/11.
But Pearce, despite all the current rough water being churned up, is still holding steady as the next best bet with odds ranging from 4/1 to 6/1, or 11/2 to 13/2.
Next best bet – former Chelsea and Russia manager Guus Hiddink. Ladbrokes make him 6/1. Betfred and Boylesports 8/1, paddypower, bet365 and StanJames 10/1, and William Hill 12/1.
After that comes someone called Jose Mourinho...
You can argue about it all day long, but when all the bookies line up in broad agreement, it is very persuasive, historically speaking.
The current flurry of attention on who should have the top job in English football is obscuring, but not totally eclipsing, betting on the London 2012 Games.
As Graham Sharpe, the William Hill media director, readily accepts, betting is a particularly sensitive issue for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose President, Jacques Rogge (pictured), has energetically flagged up the potentially harmful effect of unlicensed and illegal betting upon the Games.
No betting scandals have been shown up so far, but Dr Rogge believes that only the most urgent care will prevent the scourge that has already disfigured parts of international football and cricket from infecting the Olympics.
That said, as Sharpe points out, the last people ever to want betting scandals are legitimate bookmakers, who need punters to have faith in the honesty of those competitions upon which they lay down their wagers.
And on top of that, there's nothing the IOC can do to prevent William Hill, and other betting businesses, from offering bets on London 2012. It isn't illegal.
"We know that the IOC are not the gambler's best friend," Sharpe says. "But we respect their position, even if we don't see eye-to-eye with them.
"I think it is a good thing for the Olympic Movement that the 2012 Games are here in Britain, because that is where you find the most highly regulated and respected bookmakers in the world.
"If anyone tried to pull some sort of gambling stunt during the Games, we would be the targets, but we are wise to that. It is healthy that people should be aware of possible wrongdoing. But at the same time there is a huge deterrent against it because of the vigilance of legitimate British bookmakers."
Sharpe acknowledges that, after a flurry of family-related punts on future Olympic champions, laid in the days after London gained the Games, there has been a natural lull. But it is likely to be the calm before the storm.
London 2012 will offer punters the opportunity to bet on Olympic events while they are underway, just as one can bet on football or cricket matches
"These will be the first in-play Olympics in terms of betting, which is obviously a very exciting prospect for us," says Sharpe. "But I have to say we could struggle with bets on Usain Bolt during the 100 metres final.
"In the days before the Games, we will be expecting bets on the Opening Ceremony, about who will be lighting the Olympic flame, perhaps – where you will be thinking of names such as Steve Redgrave or Kelly Holmes – and perhaps along the possibility of another wardrobe malfunction such as Janet Jackson suffered before the 2004 Super Bowl (pictured) .
"There will probably be some angle on that. If we know that, say, someone such as Cheryl Cole is going to be involved there could be bets offered on what she wears or what she does with her hair."
Until that controversial hair controversy rears its head, however, there are a range of other bets already on offer to the interested Olympic gambler – and as one might expect, British bookmakers have a very British feel to their bets.
Jessica Ennis is 6/4 to win heptathlon gold, and same odds to win silver. Mo Farah is 7/4 to win 5000m gold, and 2/1 for 10,000m gold. No pressure there, Mo. Oh, and by the way, a golden double is at 11/2. Dai Greene is 11/4 to win 400m hurdles gold, while former world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu is at 9/2. Holly Bleasdale, rising high and swiftly in the pole vault, is at 5/1.
It's an odds business, betting. But the bookies seem to be maintaining their living, so don't rush to bet against them...
Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames. Rowbottom's Twitter feed can be accessed here.