By David Owen

Sepp Blatter is the runaway favourite with the bookmaker William HillIt has blossomed into the most densely-populated FIFA Presidential election for at least four decades; yet for all the big names and razzmatazz it remains, to all intents and purposes, a one-horse race.

That is the central conclusion to be drawn from odds on the contest published on Wednesday - the day former Portugal star Luis Figo unexpectedly entered the fray - by top bookmaker William Hill.

According to a Tweet by Graham Sharpe, Hill's media relations director, the incumbent President, Sepp Blatter, is a prohibitive 1/16 favourite to retain the post at the head of world football's governing body he has held since 1998.

That means that if you were to risk 16 dollars, euros or dinars on the Swiss septuagenarian and he duly won, you would get just 17 back.

What is more, the outcome of the election will not be known until May 29.

Even Arkle, the best steeplechaser who drew breath, was never sent off at odds shorter than 1/10 in a career spanning 35 races.

Surprisingly, Hill have former FIFA official Jérôme Champagne as 12/1 second-favourite.

Though he has been campaigning for months, voicing many new, studiously thought-through ideas, Champagne may well, it is felt, struggle to secure the written support of five member associations.

This is necessary formally to enter the contest under the FIFA statutes.

Jérôme Champagne is a surprise second favourite for the FIFA Presidential election ©Getty ImagesJérôme Champagne is a surprise second-favourite for the FIFA Presidential election
©Getty Images

Figo has been installed at 16/1 third favourite, with Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein and Michael van Praag of the Netherlands each quoted as 25/1 outsiders.

Van Praag at least seems likely to clear the race's first hurdle, having listed the Federations - Belgium, the Faroe Islands, Romania, Scotland, Sweden and the Netherlands - that are backing him.

With four months to go, Blatter theoretically could still come unstuck, even though the men widely seen as his most dangerous potential rivals - Michel Platini, French President of UEFA, the European football body and Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, who is President of CONCACAF, the confederation representing North and Central America and the Caribbean – have opted seemingly to sit out the contest.

What seems at this distance much more likely to be at issue is the question of whether the incumbent can muster the 140 or so votes he would need to secure re-election on the first ballot - and whether it would in any way weaken his authority if he comes up short.

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