The twist meant Newcastle lifted the trophy and turned a large number of league accumulators into winning bets.
LONDON — Jack Grealish's 89th-minute equaliser for Aston Villa against Brighton & Hove Albion FC in May cost Ladbrokes £1.5 million, the bookmaker has revealed, as a large number of league winner accumulators came good.
Grealish's goal meant the match on the final day of the season ended 1-1, denying Brighton the Championship title. The result meant that Newcastle lifted the trophy instead.
Newcastle were early favourites to win the 2016/17 Championship but fell behind Brighton as the season progressed.
The late twist meant that a large number of league win accumulators – where punters bet on the outcome of not one but multiple leagues — became winning bets.
Ladbrokes Coral says in its half-year results on Thursday:
"Even when it looked as if results were going to do the bookies a favour, ante-post favourite backers had a dramatic late twist with pre-season bankers Newcastle winning the Championship title in the last minute of the season as Brighton conceded an 89th-minute equaliser to Aston Villa. Newcastle, Sheffield United, and Portsmouth were all heavily backed in a large number of League winner multiple bets and Jack Grealish's goal is conservatively estimated to have cost us around £1.5m."
Here's Grealish's £1.5 million goal:
Ladbrokes says football in 2017 has "reverted to the norm" after Leicester City's surprise Premier League win in 2016, with favourites tending to win more often than not.
Away from football, Ladbrokes Coral says that horse racing results have "proved very much the bookies' friend so far this year" after a difficult 2017. The bookmaker adds that Floyd Mayweather's victory against Conor McGregor in Saturday's blockbuster boxing match also saved Ladbrokes Coral from "a bloody nose." Business Insider reported earlier this week that Mayweather's win saved bookmakers across the UK from paying out an estimated £250 million.
Ladbrokes, which merged with Gala Coral last November, reported revenue up 1% to £1.2 billion in the 6 months to June 30. Earnings were flat at £211 million but operating profit rose 7% to £51.7 million. Digital is growing strongly, with online revenues improving by 17% in the period.
The company says the merger is going well, with cost-savings now expected to be £150 million per year by 2019 — double its previous estimate.
Performance in the second-half of the year so far looks good, with revenues up 6% in the 7 weeks to August 20. CEO Jim Mullen says in a statement: "The business is in good shape and we have come a long way in a short time."