Bookmaker offers bets on Canterbury

21 February 2008

by Simon Caldwell

Worth a gamble? Paddy Power's online odds on Dr Williams's successor

Worth a gamble? Paddy Power's online odds on Dr Williams's successor

THE CONTROVERSY over the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks on sharia (News, 15 February) has sparked interest from bookmakers about who might succeed him.

Some commentators, including a small number of General Synod members, called for Dr Williams to resign, after his lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this month on sharia. Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, opened a book on his successor on Wednesday of last week.

The 2/1 favourite is the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu. Among Dr Williams’s critics was the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who has been given an 8/1 chance of succeeding him. More highly favoured is the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, at 3/1, and the Bishop of Portsmouth, Dr Kenneth Stevenson, at 5/1.

The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price, is at 6/1; the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, is at 13/2; and the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, is at 8/1.

The remaining contenders include the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, who has been given a 9/1 chance. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, is a 14/1 outsider; while the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, is lagging behind at an unlikely 25/1.

More than 100 bets were placed with Paddy Power in the first 48 hours. “We expect it will heat up further if Williams gets more bad press,” said Sharon McHugh, a spokeswoman for the bookmaker. “It’s a very interesting market to us, as the next Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed by Downing Street. This makes for interesting betting.”

Meanwhile, Paddy Power also has books open on the next Pope and the next Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Betting on the next RC Bishop of Down & Connor was suspended last week, after a flurry of bets were placed on Monsignor Noel Treanor, at odds ranging from 7/1 to a closing 5/4.

Mgr Treanor, who is secretary general of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU, was added to the Paddy Power book on Thursday of last week, but it took just four hours for his odds to plummet to 5/4, before the book was closed.

Ms McHugh said this had been done because of “suspicious betting”. “Is nothing sacred?” she asked. The Vatican is expected to make an announcement about the bishopric at Easter.

Have you ever placed a bet on an ecclesiastical appointment? Vote here

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