Mercury prize: Paul Weller at centre of 'biggest turnaround in music betting for 40 years'

Fifty-two-year-old musician's odds slashed from 20/1 to 1/10 after 'huge surge' of bets placed in his favour

Paul Weller is now the favourite to win the Mercury prize after bookmakers William Hill said the singer was at the centre of the "biggest turnaround in music betting for the last 40 years". The 52-year-old musician's odds for winning the prize have been slashed from 20/1 to a 1/10 after William Hill reported a "huge surge" in bets placed on the singer over the weekend.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said Weller received hundreds of bets in "the space of about an hour and a half", saying that activity at their Birmingham branches was particularly fervent. As a result, Weller has overtaken the XX as William Hill's favourite to win the music industry prize.

"In no way are we suggesting that this surge in bets reflects anything untoward in the Mercury camp. The change in odds is not a comment on the integrity of the judges," said Adams. "Our feeling is a consensus has built that Weller is likely to be handed the award because it could well be his last chance to win it."

Weller's inclusion has been compared to the nomination of an older actor who had perhaps missed out on an Oscar years before. The singer's album Wild Wood was listed for the Mercury prize in 1994, but lost out to M People's Elegant Slumming. Weller, perhaps portentously, told the Guardian earlier this year: "Once you're past 30 and haven't died of consumption, they start awarding you these things for staying alive."

This is not the first time Paul Weller has been at the centre of a last-minute surge in bets ahead of an industry award; in February 2009, William Hill suspended all betting for the singer to win the Brit award for best male solo artist after a rush of bets were placed in his favour in the run-up to the awards. But whereas the Brit winners are decided on days before the event, the Mercury winner is not finalised until the night of the awards itself. William Hill believes this is the result of customers trying to second guess how the judges will vote on the night.

The Mercury prize takes place tomorrow evening (Tuesday 7 September) and will be televised on BBC 2 from 10pm.

According to William Hill, the odds are as follows:

Paul Weller 1/10

The XX 7/4

Wild Beasts 5/1

Laura Marling 7/1

Mumford and Sons 8/1

I Am Kloot 10/1

Villagers 12/1

Foals 16/1

Biffy Clyro 16/1

Corinne Bailey Rae 25/1

Dizzee Rascal 33/1

Kit Downes Trio 33/1


Rosie Swash

The GuardianTramp

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