World of Sport

Manchester United crowned champions… by brave bookie

A leading bookmaker has paid out on Manchester United winning the Premier League with over three months of the season left.

Paddy Power handed over £500,000 to punters who backed the Reds to win their 20th league title before their game against Everton on Sunday afternoon.

United led nearest rivals Manchester City by nine points with 13 games to go, prompting the bookie to pay out.

A Paddy Power spokesman said: "The fat lady might not be singing yet but she’s definitely getting warmed up.

"We can’t see United letting their lead slip and, with Real Madrid to come midweek, we thought we'd take some of the pressure off Fergie and give punters an early payday."

Last season, Manchester-based company Betfred found themselves half a million pounds out of pocket when they paid out on United, only to watch them blow an eight-point lead with just six games left last season.

City's challenge continued to stumble on Saturday as they slumped to an error-strewn 3-1 defeat at Southampton.

After the game, manager Roberto Mancini said his side still had a "10 per cent" chance of lifting their second straight title.

It seems the bookies agreed with the Italian - before United's game against Everton City could be backed at anything between 8/1 and 12/1.