Belfast Telegraph

Punters to get run for money with England

By Robert Fenton

The cheers could be heard loud and clear from bookmakers once England qualified for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.

Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, England's presence adds an extra dimension to any event and this means a betting bonanza probably hitting record levels.

As Kate Miller of William Hill said: "We estimate we will take around £200m. An English interest gives an increased narrative for every football fan around the World Cup and without it the figures would be significantly less."

Paddy Power added: "Even as an Irishman, I was cheering for the Three Lions against Poland because it makes the World Cup so much more exciting for us and we are already planning towards the tournament in terms of marketing and promotions.

"In terms of turnover, it will be a huge boost and hopefully England will go on a good run but not win it."

England are currently 33/1 and that is better value than what is normally on offer when it comes to major finals.

They are better than those odds suggest and are certainly worth a small interest.

This is the best England outfit in years and they'll not be easily beaten.

Whether they can go all the way is another matter – no European nation has been successful in South America – but expect them to reach the closing stages, making them a good each-way bet.

Argentina are the outright choice at 5/1.

Either Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic won't be in Brazil following the play-offs which bring Portugal and Sweden together.

Portugal are 1/2 favourites but are too unpredictable. After all, visitors Northern Ireland took a point and could have beaten them at Windsor. So get on Sweden at 6/4 along with Greece (8/11) to get the better of Romania.

Play-off draw: Portugal v Sweden, France v Ukraine, Greece v Romania, Iceland v Croatia. (Ties to be played November 15 and 19).

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