All bets are off as Norwich City close in on title triumph

Two major High Street bookies have stopped taking bets on Norwich City winning promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking.With odds slashed to a stunning 1-500 over the weekend, both Ladbrokes and Coral have closed the book on Paul Lambert's team going up.

Two major High Street bookies have stopped taking bets on Norwich City winning promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

With odds slashed to a stunning 1-500 over the weekend, both Ladbrokes and Coral have closed the book on Paul Lambert's team going up.

City lead the table by 11 points after the weekend win over second-placed Leeds United and could even guarantee themselves a play-off spot at worst this weekend if they win at Tranmere and Huddersfield fail to win at Wycombe.

Canaries boss Lambert is refusing to take anything for granted, but the bookies have clearly made up their kind.


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Coral and Ladbrokes are now offering odds of 1-25 for City to win the League One title, while Sky Bet have them at 1-66.

'It would take a 'Devon Loch' moment to deprive them of a return to the Championship,' said Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg. 'They can even afford to give Delia a game.'

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Coral confirmed they were offering no more bets, a spokesman saying: 'It's practically guaranteed now. That's why we have closed the book on it.'

Online company Sky Bet have Norwich at 1-66 to win the title, but have also stopped taking bets on straight promotion.

'The win against Leeds looks like it's almost sealed the League One title for the Canaries and makes the job of promotion almost a formality,' said spokesman Tim Reynolds. 'It seems a long time since their 7-1 home defeat to Colchester which saw the departure of Bryan Gunn. At that time Norwich were 20-1 to win the league and 5-1 for promotion.'

William Hill are the only remaining big High Street name offering promotion odds - they have City at 1-500, with the title at 1-50, although a handful of on-line companies are still in the market.

Leeds are still tipped to take the second automatic place and the top spot, should City slip up although it's close between them and Millwall.

t City have been warned to be wary of the Sky TV curse striking again this week. The Canaries travel to Tranmere on Friday evening when the eyes of a national TV audience will be watching.

The presence of TV cameras has done City few favours this season - they lost to Sunderland in the Carling Cup, at MK Dons and Leeds in League One and at Carlisle in the FA Cup, a match that was streamed live on the internet by the FA. The only time they have won was at Paulton Rovers in the first round of the FA Cup.

And Tranmere boss Les Parry believes another TV audience will provide the perfect backdrop for the Good Friday clash at Prenton Park.

Parry has seen Tranmere slip back into the relegation zone after a 3-0 defeat to Brighton, but Parry says City's visit will help his players.

'We are fortunate that we play Norwich next, so the lads will be up for that,' he said.

'We are live on the telly so the lads will be up for that. Both of those factors are going to help us.'

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