Betting on Rafa stopped

2009-02-25 15:11

London - One of Britain's leading betting firms said on Wednesday it had stopped taking money on Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez becoming the next English Premier League boss to be sacked.

Willliam Hill said that at 19:00 on Tuesday the Spaniard was a 20/1 outsider to be the next manager to leave his post.

But despite the fact that both Manchester United and Arsenal were playing in the Champions League on Tuesday, Hill's said Benitez was "backed off the boards" to have left Liverpool by the weekend.

They cut the odds to evens and then suspended betting on Wednesday.

"The level of interest on Rafa getting the sack is unprecedented with over 300 calls logged today (Wednesday) alone," said Hill's spokesman Rupert Adams.

"We would be very surprised if Rafa is still the Liverpool boss by midnight on Sunday."

Liverpool are currently in Spain where they play Real Madrid, the club where Benitez began his coaching career, later Wednesday in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie.

Benitez, who has been in charge at Anfield since 2004 and who led the club to Champions League glory the following year, is understood to have rejected several drafts of a new four-year contract offered by Liverpool's feuding American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

The Spaniard has made clear his displeasure at what he perceives to be his lack of control over transfer policy although recent reports suggested Gillett and Hicks were prepared to grant him the authority he wants.

It is 19 years since Liverpool won the last of their record 18 English league titles and Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City left the Merseysiders seven points adrift of leaders and reigning Premier League champions United.