Spain’s second-largest newspaper, El Mundo reports that Austrian online gaming company Bwin is a frontrunner in a bid to purchase a 30% stake in Spain’s State Lottery. Other companies interested in the purchase of the stake include Spanish companies Codere, Cirsa and Recreativos Franco as well as Italy’s Lottomatica.
The Spanish Government announced plans this week to partially privatise the lottery in order to cut debt and expects to raise €5 billion from its sale. The State lottery has an estimated €2.6 billion ($3.5 billion) revenue for 2010 and is renowned for its considerable El Gordo and El Nino draws.
An un-named source told El Mundo that the company is closely watching developments in Spain but continues its focus, for the moment, on its online business.
Pundits Make Early Premier League Predictions
The early polls are in and it looks like the pundits can’t see much past Manchester City retaining the Premier League title they managed to win by a single kick of a ball last season with 42% going for City to win the league.
Manchester United are lagging behind with 29% of the votes with a surprising 16% plumping for Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea, 8% going for Arsenal and 5% fancying any other team. It’s little surprise then that this matches pretty closely with what the bookies fancy too.
City are as short as even money to retain the title, United available at around 2/1, Chelsea at a skinny looking 5/1 and Arsenal a deceptively chunky looking 12/1. Tottenham and Liverpool are both available at around 30/1 with new managers in tow and from there the odds get really crazy with Newcastle available at 150/1.
Given that the United Togel team was widely believed to be one of the worst Ferguson has had to work with and that with just a few minutes left on the clock at The Etihad the title was going back to Old Trafford, this confidence in City retaining their title may be just a little excessive?
City’s Summer Activity
So far City are yet to make a signing this summer and with Dzeko, Adebayor and Kolorov likely to see the exit before the start of the season it’s only the fragile, but growing bond of the team that is holding this notion together. Though it is highly likely that at least one mega-money signing will find their way on to the Etihad bench by kick off time in August you can only assume that the strong early belief of City retaining the title comes on that expectation, and top of that list is probably Van Persie.
Whilst the Dutchman had an outstanding season for Arsenal last year it’s worth remembering that he really has had only one such season in his Premier League career. Were he to join City, and stay fit all season there would still be question marks as to exactly how much he would add to the strength of the starting 11. City’s squad is already bloated with world class strikers coming in to their prime and swapping an Aguero or a Tevez for Van Persie in the starting 11 might not produce as much of a net gain as it appears, though if he joins United he might be able to add more to their squad.
United’s Summer Activity
United are also in the hunt for Van Persie’s signature they know they need to strengthen. They have started in earnest with an addition to perhaps the weakest part of their team last season, that of Kagawa in Midfield, with Lucas Moura (winger), and Joao Moutinho also rumoured to be on their way to old Trafford along with Leighton Baines. should United add those 3 to their team and get them to settle quickly you could argue that United’s team has strengthened more so than City’s and even though the gain might not be huge it should certainly be enough to be worth a couple of extra points which would have given the title to United last season so United might just be the value bet here.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs
With everything that has transpired at The Emirates this summer it looks like Arsenal could lose two major assets and should this happen, even with the excellent additions of Padolski ,Giroud and now Cazorla they may struggle to retain their Champions League place without a spearhead to their attack, but the faith of the pundits is with Wenger to make it 16 consecutive Champions League qualifications for The Gunners and if they hold on to Van Persie then who knows they could even mount a title challenge at some stage of the season as they always seem to when we least expect it.
You’d think there was little to no pundit faith in Villas-Boas at Spurs but just 6% of pundits think they will finish outside of the top 4, with 8% predicting it will be Arsenal that miss out and only 4% saying it will be Chelsea, clearly one of these favoruites will have to miss out on a top 4 spot and the early money is on Arsenal, but only just. We expect them to somehow find their way in to the Champions league once again, probably at the expense of Spurs.
Perhaps the dark horse in all of this is Chelsea, they have a decent backing and looked a far better team under their new gaffer last season. Whilst Drogba, Kalou and Bosingwa have left, the sizeable arrivals of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin and one or two others will add plenty to the squad as will a regular run in the team for Torres.
It is also being suggested that Brazilian striker Oscar could be on the way along with Victor Moses. Their ageing squad and tactics might not be enough to win the league, but they may well just be the team that surprises a few people and mounts the most serious and consistent challenge to the two teams from Manchester.…