Manchester United's official betting partners, Bwin, have opened a market into the possibility of Sir Alex Ferguson returning as the club's manager, causing ructions within the club.
The online gambling site is offering odds of 11-2 on the Scottish manager's return, which a United insider has described as "crass and totally inappropriate," according to the Daily Mail's Charles Sale.
However, per Sale, the club's official comment on the matter reads as follows:
Bwin are our partners rather than a subsidiary company, and we have no influence on their markets. But Sir Alex has made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions recently that he has no intention of coming back into football management.
Most supporters are aware that Bwin have no management connection with the club and, thus, their views on the future of David Moyes and Ferguson are completely independent to that of United.
However, given that they are linked from the club website as an official partner, such markets are bound to cause annoyance—given that it is supposed to be a mutually beneficial scheme.
Whether it is appropriate for football clubs and betting sites to have any partnership is a question for debate, given that the sites will offer markets related to those clubs.
Hypothetically, if Bwin were not to offer a market due to their partnership, then it could be argued that something is wrong. If the market was to be influenced by inside information then an offence would have been committed—although it must be stressed that is not the case in this example.
Betting is a big source of income for football clubs, but it opens up Pandora's box in terms of potential difficulties—with United's current situation relatively minor.
News sites, likewise, need their relationships with betting sites examined given their ability to influence markets. The Independent's Ian Herbert recently explored the issue in some detail regarding Sky Sports News and Sky Bet's unusual relationship.
United are not a club to make rash decisions and, with a couple of wins under his belt in the space of a few days this week, Moyes' tenure looks to be beginning to take shape. Champions League results, also, have been good.
Retirement was not a decision Ferguson will have taken lightly, and it is unlikely he would rush back.
Such markets are a potential goldmine for betting websites, with any bad result for Moyes likely to provoke betting on his possible departure. It would seem unlikely, though, that he will be exiting Old Trafford anytime soon—let alone for Ferguson to step back into the breach.