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Mayweather victory saved bookie Ladbrokes Coral from 'bloody nose'

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Ladbrokes Coral posted a 7% rise in proforma earnings to £158.3 million for the six months to the end of June

Ladbrokes Coral posted a 7% rise in proforma earnings to £158.3 million for the six months to the end of June

Ladbrokes Coral posted a 7% rise in proforma earnings to £158.3 million for the six months to the end of June

The boss of bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral has said the blockbuster Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor boxing match became its biggest betting event outside of the Grand National.

Chief executive Jim Mullen told the Press Association the support behind McGregor "took us by surprise" as bets on the Irishman outstripped amounts wagered on veteran Mayweather.

But he said Mayweather's victory in the 10th round - which saw him come out of retirement to secure his 50th undefeated fight - saved the group from a "bloody nose".

He said: "What we saw was a remarkable amount of money coming in on McGregor."

"We had an athlete who hadn't boxed since he was 14 boxing against a living legend.

"We found him becoming a significant liability - if he'd won in the fourth round, I would've been crying into my cornflakes," he admitted.

Mayweather's win in Las Vegas at the weekend gave a boost to Ladbrokes Coral at the beginning of its second half, but the group said the start of the football season will be the "crucial sporting action" for the next six months.

The group, formed from the £2.3 billion merger of Ladbrokes and Coral last November, posted a 7% rise in proforma earnings to £158.3 million for the six months to the end of June.

Mr Mullen hailed an "encouraging start" to its financial year as online bets offset a tougher first half for its high street stores.

UK retail net revenues were 6% behind a year earlier, with over-the-counter sales in its betting shops dropping 11% and like-for-like stakes 7% lower.

But net revenues from its digital division increased 14% on a constant currency basis to £374.5 million.

Mr Mullen said it was an improving picture for the high street betting shops, with current trading showing the fall in UK retail revenues narrowing to 1% in the first seven weeks of the second half.

Total group net revenue was 6% higher in recent trading as digital net revenues rose 13% on a constant currency basis.

Mr Mullen said the group had no plans to shut more shops or add to the 700 job losses already announced as a result of the Coral merger, despite doubling annual cost saving targets from the deal to £150 million.

It was forced to offload 360 shops to appease competition concerns over the deal, but still has nearly 3,700 bookies on the high street.

The half-year results come after reports last week that online gambling group GVC recently approached Ladbrokes with a takeover offer worth up to £3.6 million, but that talks had broken down.

The two firms had previously held takeover talks at the end of last year as Ladbrokes was finalising its merger with Coral.