From the moment Newcastle slipped into the Championship, they were installed as favourites to bounce straight back. Even after Rafa Benitez’s side lost their opening two league games, the bookies remained adamant that the Magpies would eventually find their wings to establish a permanent nest at the top of the tree and wait for their seemingly inevitable promotion. It was this certainty that saw punters heavily backing the boys in black and white, leading to what could be the ‘biggest Football League payout ever’.
At present, the bookmakers are being proved right. Newcastle currently sit top of the table with just eight games to play, seven points clear of third-place Huddersfield Town. Should the Toon Army secure promotion, currently priced at 1/50 with Bet365, bookies across the land stand to take an absolute hammering. “It will be our biggest Football League Ante Post payout ever,” Bet365 spokesman Steve Freeth told reporters.
However, the St James’ Park outfit can’t relax just yet. Six of their last eight games are against teams who still have something to play for, whether that be the fight for promotion or the battle to avoid the dreaded drop. But that hasn’t stopped bookmakers from keeping their odds as short as possible. Bet365 currently have the club priced at 1/3 to lift the league title, while odds of 1/5000 are being offered on Newcastle securing a place in the top six.
Could the chasing pack ruin the party, though? Huddersfield, Leeds and Reading might still make life very difficult, while Brighton are hot on the heels of the leaders. Should the current favourites slip up and tumble out of the automatic promotion places, there may be quite a gust as bookmakers breath a collective sigh of relief.