The decision by Manchester United to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not have come as a surprise to many fans, nonetheless, it created stir within sports betting markets.
Reports on Thursday that Ralf Rangnick would assume the position on an interim basis have not silenced bookmakers, with many pricing ‘Next Permanent Manager’ odds – a market that commentators have observed could lead to confusion and possible disputes.
Speaking to SBC News, Richard Hayler, Managing Director of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), observed that next manager markets can often be the most contentious, although acknowledging that the offering presents less of an issue now than it did in the past as ‘the peak of disputes’ occurred in the 2000s – when there was ‘the greatest divergence of rules between operators’.
“IBAS used to receive a lot more complaints about next manager markets than we do today,” he explained. “This could come down to a more unified cross-industry approach to rules, clearer rules and terms, greater public familiarity with the mechanics of this type of bet or fewer ambiguously described appointments on the part of the leading clubs.
“Traditionally any top flight club appointing a manager on a ‘Caretaker’ or ‘Interim’ basis meant there would be betting disputes in the pipeline, unless the caretaker went on to take the job permanently.”
He continued: “Today, almost everyone betting in the UK market, at least, uses a definition developed for use on betting exchanges, which says that bets will be settled either when a manager is appointed on a permanent basis or on anyone who manages the team in any shorter-term capacity for a minimum of 10 consecutive matches.”
Prior to the announcement, former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was “cut into the clear favourite to be named as Solskjaer’s successor” at 3/1 on Oddschecker, a significant drop on his initial odds of 20/1, followed by Ernesto Valverde at 5/1. Meanwhile, man in the hot seat Rangnick stood at 6/1 to become Manchester United’s next permanent manager.
Betting on the market has proven to be incredibly popular with punters. After reaching out to Oddschecker, SBC was informed: “Betting on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s replacement has resulted in the next Manchester United manager market being the most popular non-racing page. In fact, the long-running market has garnered more betslip clicks than high traffic pages such as Spurs vs Leeds at the weekend.
“However, the biggest bet and largest average bet in the same time period has actually been Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers. The only other special coming close to rivalling the next Man Utd manager market is betting on I’m a Celebrity, which is only eighth on the overall most backed list.”
Hayler observed that within 24 hours of Solskjaer’s dismissal, UK audiences were being hit with graphics on sports networks depicting the odds of his potential successors, and referred to the potential disputes that could arise as a result of confusion regarding permanent and interim managers.
“On one Sunday football show, the value on offer for several likely candidates had already been discussed by the presenting team before one pundit asked, ‘are these odds for the interim role of the permanent job’?
“The question was glossed over but from a betting perspective it needed to be answered. This has been the fundamental issue at the heart of every dispute IBAS has ever considered relating to bets on this type of market.”
Oddschekcer revealed that 27% of wagers on the next Manchester United manager were placed on Pochettino, with the ex-Tottenham Hotspur and current Paris St Germain boss the punters choice with regards to both stake and betting volume.
This contributed heavily to the Argentine’s dramatic rise to favourite. Oddschecker stated that “Poch had leapfrogged previous favourites Brendan Rodgers and Zinedine Zidane, who have since drifted out to 25/1 and 50/1 respectively”.
As Oddschecker provided data on permanent manager markets and Rangnick has been appointed – at least for now – on only an Interim basis, punters who bet on Pochettino could still hold out hope for the summer at least.
In order to prevent potential disputes relating to this differentiation, IBAS’ Hayler maintained that operators should clearly stipulate that there is a difference between ‘next permanent manager’ and ‘interim manager’ when offering the market.
IBAS’ MD observed that a number of operators, or ‘perhaps even the majority’, have offered ‘Next Permanent Manager’ markets despite an interim manager being sought along with rules stating that bets will be settled should the appointee manage the team for 10 consecutive fixtures.
“At very least, it leaves room for debate further down the line should one of the currently fancied candidates end up taking the job at the end of the season,” he said. “We would urge all operators to put the definition of how bets will be settled or a clear link to that definition at the top of any page advertising this market.
“We would also recommend operators reflect on whether in the circumstances ‘Next permanent manager’ is the clearest way to describe a market in which the winner (according to most operators’ rules) may well not be appointed on a permanent basis. Perhaps, “Next Manchester United Manager – Please Read Rules” or something similar would be more appropriate on this occasion.”