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Tuesday 13th May 2014 | 13:34
'Roy's Boys for Brazil' was the headline that excited most readers of the back pages this morning.
And Roy Hodgson's decision to go for youth has injected a bit more hope that England could actually go beyond the group stages in the 2014 World Cup.
But it looks like HM Government are not exactly convinced of our national team's chances of making progress.
Buried away in an official order granting extended licensing to pubs (itself hailed by Theresa May in March) is a prediction that Roy's Boys will flop.
Paragraph 37 of the 'Impact Assessment' for the Home Office's secondary legislation [The Licensing Act 2003 (FIFA World Cup Licensing Hours) Order 2014 dontcha know] states:
“While England are certain to be playing in the matches in the first period, there is a high probability that they will not be playing in the later matches”.
Yes, you read that right. 'High probability' of the England team not doing very well.
The 'Impact Assessment' adds: "To account for this, we have used odds from Betfair.com, implying that England have a 54% probability of progressing past the group stage and an 11% probability of progressing past the quarter-finals, allowing us to estimate the expected benefits."
Perhaps to the delight of Betfair, the official document even has this footnote: "This site was chosen as, unlike most commercial betting sites, it is an exchange, so a mid-point of the ‘bid’ and ‘offer’ odds can be taken. There is still clearly a great degree of uncertainty around this, so we have assumed that this is a best estimatefrom an upper and lower estimate of +/-25 percentage points."
All of which may sound logical, but doesn't sound that patriotic.
Labour peer Lord Rosser is so upset by this he raised it in the Lords last night*. He concluded: "It is good to know what the Government think of England’s prospects."
Government minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach responded:
"I am pleased that he is impressed by the intellectual rigour with which the Government draw up those assessments. He is quite right. It says that England are certain to play in the matches of the first period of the tournament—I think that we can all agree on that—but that there is a high probability that England will not play in later matches. That is a matter of opinion, and I am sure that other noble Lords will have different views on that issue."
Which was not quite a rousing show of support.
Something tells me No.10 or senior ministers may have to be a bit more optimistic...
FOOTNOTE: Don't forget the PM has complained in the past about betting firms' ads appearing in the middle of live football matches. Maybe he'll be as exercised about betting ads appearing in his own Govt's Impact Assessments?
HAT-TIP Thanks to the eagle-eyed Dods Monitoring team for spotting this one.
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