Mourinho's Struggling Chelsea Makes Ladbrokes a Soccer Winner

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard after the team conceded a third goal to Southampton during their Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 3, 2015.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard after the team conceded a third goal to Southampton during their Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 3, 2015.

Photographer: Julian Finney/Getty Images
  • Four of best 11 soccer results involved Chelsea failing to win
  • `After I presented the trophy I went upstairs for a cry'

Jose Mourinho may not be happy with the start his Chelsea team has made to the English soccer season, but the same can’t be said for Jim Mullen, chief executive officer of U.K. betting company Ladbrokes Plc.

The Premier League champions’ faltering start to this campaign has been music to Mullen’s ears as customers have seen their wagers stay in the bookmaker’s coffers. Four of Ladbrokes’ best 11 soccer results in the third quarter involved Chelsea failing to win, Mullen said in a phone interview Thursday.

“For everyone that is giving Jose Mourinho a bit of a clobbering, Jim Mullen is not one of them,” Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said by phone. “We need upsets, and Chelsea’s inconsistency has been most welcome.”

After losing the season’s traditional curtain-raising game to Arsenal in early August, Chelsea’s league form has not been much better. Mourinho’s side lies 12th among 20 teams, having been unable to defeat the likes of Swansea, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. Those games were all among the most profitable of the season so far for Ladbrokes, with the Sept. 26 draw against Newcastle being the bookmaker’s single best result.

Timely Boost

Chelsea’s struggles provided a timely boost for Ladbrokes, which is in the process of acquiring one of its main competitors Coral Group. Horse racing results in the quarter went against the bookmaker, with September’s St. Leger festival proving the worst racing week in 10 years. The company’s policy of paying out for the first horse to cross the finish line -- even if it is later demoted -- proved costly when the winner of the big race was placed second by stewards. That decision was reversed days later on appeal.

“We paid out, and after I presented the trophy I went upstairs for a cry,” said Mullen, whose company sponsors the St. Leger race.

Ladbrokes said earnings before interest and tax fell 57 percent to 14.3 million pounds ($22 million) in the third quarter, broadly in line with estimates. The decline was partly due to an increase in marketing spending as Mullen seeks to build the Ladbrokes brand. Higher duties, and a withdrawal from unregulated digital markets also weighed on the performance.

Mullen said he’s encouraged by increases in the amounts being staked by customers, both in the company’s betting shops and online. Ladbrokes shares rose 6.8 percent to 108 pence at 12:05 p.m. in London.

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