Three punters have been paid out by a bookmaker which accepted bets on the specific time of Chelsea captain John Terry’s first-half substitution against Sunderland at 100-1.
Paddy Power accepted the wagers on Terry being substituted between 26:00 and 26:59 in Sunday’s Premier League match, his last as a Chelsea player at Stamford Bridge.
The relegated Black Cats were aware of the orchestrated plan, which Terry has said was his idea.
Press Association Sport has spoken to two customers of Paddy Power, who won £2,500 and £1,000 respectively.
Paddy Power said in a statement to Press Association Sport on Monday: “We replied to a novelty request for odds on John Terry’s substitution – one of hundreds on the Chelsea game – and fair play to the three punters who were on at odds of 100-1.
“To be honest the only mistake here is we should have clocked sooner there’d be another cringe-worthy Chelsea send-off for JT.”
Terry’s pre-planned substitution midway through the first half of the champions’ 5-1 win over Sunderland was forecast on social media by the Chelsea fanzine editor before kick-off.
Terry revealed after the match that the idea to come off in the 26th minute had come from him, to tie in with his squad number of 26.
There was precedent at Chelsea. Didier Drogba was carried off by team-mates midway through the first half of a fixture with Sunderland two years ago on his farewell appearance.
One punter who attended the game predicted something similar regarding Terry and made an enquiry with Paddy Power before placing a £25 bet on the phone.
The punter, who wished to remain anonymous, told Press Association Sport: “We thought maybe 10-1, 15-1 at most as there was a precedent set (by Drogba’s substitution).
“I consider myself relatively lucky.”
Another punter said he opened an account with Paddy Power in order to place the bet, which was only possible to do over the phone.
The Chelsea fan was not watching the game, but says he put on a £10 stake and received his winnings in his account on Monday.
“I only put money on this because I thought this is surely going to come in,” said the punter, who wished to remain anonymous.
“I don’t normally bet. It’s only the second time I’ve ever placed a bet.
“I was surprised the odds were that high.”
Press Association Sport spoke to gambling industry experts who expressed surprise a market was in place for the bet.
There is no suggestion that the decision to substitute Terry was anything other than an attempt by Chelsea to give their long-serving captain a farewell to remember in front of the club’s fans.
The substitution process began when the clock ticked on to 26 minutes – making it the 27th minute of the match – and by the time he left the field through a guard of honour formed by his team-mates it was the 28th minute.
Yet Paddy Power honoured the bets, saying: “Clearly the send-off was planned for the 26th minute to commemorate JT – hence why we paid out.”
Sunderland boss David Moyes said after Chelsea’s 5-1 win that he had received advance notice of the plans, and when Blues striker Diego Costa asked Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to kick the ball out, he obliged.
Football Association rules regarding match-fixing state that: “Fixing is arranging in advance the result or conduct of a match or competition, or any event within a match or competition.”
The FA has been contacted by Press Association Sport for comment.
Press Association Sport understands the Premier League is relaxed about the matter, which it says did not contravene any of the competition’s rules.
Drogba was given a staged farewell during the final match of the 2014-15 season, when the Blues celebrated their fourth Premier League title.
Then, Chelsea’s boss at the time Jose Mourinho explained Drogba’s early substitution was due to a knee injury and had the approval of Dick Advocaat, who had steered Sunderland to safety that season.
There were similar scenes as Terry left his ‘home’ field for the final time as a Chelsea player, contemplating a future elsewhere or in retirement.
The 36-year-old former England captain appeared for the Blues for the 717th time, starting in the Premier League for the sixth time this season. It was his 580th game as captain of the team.
Terry announced last month that he would be leaving Chelsea after 22 years following a peripheral role this season, but he leaves as a Premier League champion.
A 16th major trophy of Terry’s career could follow in Saturday’s FA Cup final with Arsenal at Wembley.
He could yet make a 718th appearance, although he is likely to be a substitute at best.