Leicester's title win was less likely than the Pope playing for Rangers, according to bookies


Leicester's historic league triumph was not only the biggest upset in footballing history, but it was an achievement the bookies won't forget in a hurry.

At one stage the Foxes were 5,000-1 underdogs to win the title, with the appointment of Claudio Ranieri convincing oddsmakers that the club were destined for a turbulent season.

Graphic showing Leicester's changing title odds throughout the season

But 38 games and millions of pounds later, they have shattered all reasonable expectations - not to mention the record for the least-likely payout they have ever had to make.

We approached some of the biggest names in betting to try and get an idea of just how unlikely their achievement was.

William Hill

A William Hill shop
(John Stillwell/PA)

At 5,000-1, a Leicester league victory were the longest odds that William Hill had on their market.

At present, the least likely offering on their chalkboard is Qatar winning the 2022 World Cup, which is a more modest 1,000-1.

Previously the greatest long shot they had ever paid out on was to Wales international Harry Wilson's grandfather, who put on a bet when Wilson was a child that he would play for the national team and was offered 2,500-1 odds.

Fortunately for William Hill, their biggest liability was one man from Guildford, Surrey who put on a £75 bet at 1,500-1 Leicester each way and will win £112,500. Just 25 customers took the odds at 5,000-1, with the largest stake £20 from a customer in Manchester and the smallest 5p from a woman in Edinburgh.


A Betfred shop
(Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Betfred bosses took the decision to get out in front of the bus before the season ended and paid out on Leicester winning with several games remaining.

They were cleaned out for more than a £1 million. One fan, known as Mr Fox, had placed his bet in the shop and the manager had written on his slip: "Pigs might fly!". We know who had the last laugh there.

Similar to William Hill, Betfred offered nothing on their market as unlikely as Leicester's league win was. When pressed, they offered us odds of 5,000-1 for Jeremy Corbyn to leave the Labour Party and join the Conservatives.


A Ladbrokes shop
(John Stillwell/PA)

According to a spokesman for Ladbrokes, there have been very few examples in their history which have matched the odds offered on the Foxes this season. And out of those which have, "none at all" have got close to winning.

Among the events given the infamous 5,000-1 margin are a first-round entrant winning the FA Cup and Joshua Parramore, the lowest-ranked 100m sprinter in the world winning gold at Rio. To put that in some perspective, he is the 799th ranked runner out of 799.

That's how badly they rated Leicester's chances.

Paddy Power

Paddy Power
(Mike Egerton/EMPICS)

But if all of that wasn't bad enough, Paddy Power's list of things that were more likely than Wes Morgan lifting the Premier League trophy plumbs new depths.

On their eclectic market, the odds of the Pope playing for Rangers was 4,000-1, Robert Mugabe to win the Nobel Peace Prize was offered at 1,000-1 and Kim Kardashian to be the next US President was a modest 2,000-1.

Somehow, the idea of those ludicrous events taking place was more conceivable than a top-tier professional football team having a good season.

To paraphrase Jamie Vardy - bookies, if you chat nonsense like that, you run the risk of getting banged out by have-a-go gamblers.