Three leading bookmakers suspended betting on Antonio Conte becoming the next Premier League manager to be sacked on Thursday afternoon, prompting huge excitement across the sports media. Paddy Power, Betway and Sun Bets all stopped taking money on Roman Abramovich parting company with his 12th manager in 16 years, leading to speculation that the pair may have had some kind of squabble. Abramovich “has had enough” of Conte, claimed Paddy Power, adding that “it sounds like Antonio gone-te”. That’s very clever.
2 Roberto di Matteo
The Sun was one of the first publications to reveals the incredible “BREAKING NEWS” of Conte’s imminent departure. In fact it was the tabloid that came up with the “three leading bookmakers” line, conveniently including in this description its own gambling offshoot Sun Bets - even though it has only existed for about three months. Anyway, soon these bookies were taking bets on Conte’s successor. Had Abramovich acted because Sam Allardyce had become available? Or perhaps it was Roberto di Matteo’s sacking by Aston Villa that spurred him into action. The man is virtually guaranteed to win him the Champions League, after all.
The Sun also reported that the Italian was “not at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground today”, as if this was evidence he had been jettisoned. And perhaps it was. It’s a little known fact that Conte’s immaculate hair used to be absolutely awful, as proven by the photograph below, and that his self-esteem was rejuvenated by a outstandingly successful hair transplant a few years ago. But what if the magic potions Conte had been adding to his luscious mop had started to wear off? How could he be expected to face Chelsea’s players and fans looking like that (again, see below)?
The flurry of bets on Conte’s sacking were said to have been sparked by a “text message rumour”. But who started it? It may have been a disgruntled Chelsea player, or an attention-seeking man in a pub, or someone working for Betway who wanted people to start writing “Betway” in lots of football articles. If it was the latter, it’s worked a treat. There have been three mentions of Betway in this article already. Four now. That’s not to mention all the punters sticking a fiver on Di Matteo getting Conte’s job. But sadly for them, the rumour was quickly being dismissed by all and sundry - including the Blues themselves. And so the story began to die, just as quickly as it had been born.
So was Antonio Conte ever going to be sacked by Chelsea or was this whole thing complete nonsense? And if so, why would anyone bother making it up? Well there are plenty of reasons, actually. For one, it’s the tail-end of international week, so there’s not much else to talk about. Paddy Power, Betway (five) and Sun Bets were very possibly on course to miss their targets for web traffic for the week. And it was also a timely piece of gossip for the other publications struggling for ideas on a slow news day, so they all reported it too. It added a bit of excitement to Thursday, that’s all. Especially for Conte himself. The poor guy must have been pulling his hair out, and that’s the last thing he should be doing.
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