To kick off our series on the biggest betting underdog, we’ll be taking a look at Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League title triumph.
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Heading into the 2015/2016 campaign Leicester were priced at a whopping 5000/1, with the bookies perceiving them as more likely relegation candidates than title challenges. Indeed, their assessment made good sense, for the Foxes had struggled hugely in the previous season, where they spent over four months at the bottom of the table before winning seven of their last nine matches to secure survival.
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With Claudio Ranieri stepping in for Nigel Pearson at the managerial helm, the Italian masterminded one of the most remarkable title wins in sporting history. Basing his team on a solid defence and supreme organisation, the players knew their roles thoroughly. Factor in having the likes of N’Golo Kante running the show in midfield, and Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy wreaking havoc in the final third, and this made them a real threat in all areas of the pitch.
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The unexpected victory also changed the way bookmakers set their odds, as a William Hill spokesperson noted that taking bets at such high odds cost them around $3 million and that it probably cost other bookies roughly $15 million. It was also stated that William Hill will no longer be accepting bets priced at such high odds, with 1000/1 the maximum now.
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To put into perspective what an achievement it was by Leicester, ESPN’S Paul Carr gave an interesting example from 2016, that stated: “In the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves were 5,000-to-1 to win the NBA title at the end of January, when they had a 14-35 record. They missed the playoffs by 14 games.”
Defying the odds emphatically to run out Champions with 81 points (10 points clear of Arsenal), their record of 23 wins, 12 draws and three losses was very impressive indeed by the unfancied Foxes. A feat that will be remembered forever as one of the biggest upsets, this Leicester team will certainly never be forgotten.