The magic of the FA Cup reached beyond the players on the pitch, managers pacing the sidelines and fans both in the stands and watching around the world. It reached the offices of Betway as a stunning, epic upset saved the online sportsbook an estimated £1 million.
The match between Premier League side Manchester City and League One side Wigan Athletic took an extraordinary turn just before halftime. Left back Fabian Delph was sent off with a questionable red card in stoppage time changing the dynamic of the game and weakening City, the overwhelming favorite to take not just the match, but the FA Cup Championship.
Despite 29 shots (five on target), 15 corners and maintaining possession of the ball for 83% of the match, City couldn’t grab a crucial go ahead goal. Wigan capitalized in the 79’ minute after Will Grigg zipped past recovering City defenders, chased down the loose ball and fired it from near the top of the box to beat keeper Claudio Bravo, sending The DW Stadium into hysterics.
When Wigan held on to advance to the quarterfinals of the cup, the club’s supporters weren’t the only ones celebrating. According to a report:
“Betway had a handful of punters who netted four- and five-figure sums from backing the Latics at 16/1, but the elimination of Man City from the FA Cup has put Betway well into the black on this occasion. Across the U.K. bookmaking industry as a whole, Betway estimate that anywhere between £10 million to £25 million worth of liabilities have been written off.”
Out of 27 total matches played in all competitions since November 1st, City had lost only twice heading into their contest with Wigan. They were real candidates in many betters eyes to take home a historic quadruple (four trophies in one year) and become the first English team to do so since rival club Manchester United in 2008-09. Those hopes were astonishingly ended by a 2nd-place squad from England’s third-tier league.
Betway media representative Alan Alger said that City had been “well-backed for the quadruple since October, with some punters on at as big as 700/1 all the way down to 14/1.” He continued in exuberance to describe the firm’s relief with the incredible result.
“In late February, with still no sign of the sky blue train stopping, we were staring down the barrel of a heavy six-figure pay out on the quadruple, so last night's result came as a great relief. As you'd expect, we took plenty of lumpy bets on City to overcome Wigan last night, and they were also very well-backed to win the FA Cup itself. Overall, we've been saved a loss in the region of £1 million, and many other firms will be feeling the same. The magic of the FA Cup has sprinkled a bit of stardust on the bookmaking industry, that's for sure. I think it's safe to say that the bookies have saved somewhere between £10 million to £25 million thanks to Will Grigg and Wigan Athletic.”
City still holds a mammoth 16-point lead over second-place United on the Premier League table and will likely take home a league title this spring. However, there’s still plenty of solid matches to place wagers on as the season wraps up. This Sunday, United’s Jose Mourinho welcomes his former club Chelsea in to Old Trafford, while City heads to the Emirates Mar. 1 to take on a new-look, dangerous Arsenal squad.