THE big winners in the 45-day hunt for Oxford United’s next manager are the bookmakers.

As U’s owner Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth closes in on the appointment of a new boss, no fewer than seven people have led the market with Sky Bet.

Charlton Athletic boss Karl Robinson was the latest to take over at the head of the market, his odds slashed to even money last night.

Almost 40 people linked with the job have had bets placed on them, with the money generated from the market substantially higher than usual.

“We’ve taken bets on 37 different selections which is pretty substantial for a League One club,” said Sandro Di Michele, head of PR for Sky Bet.

“The stakes are three times the average for a League One manager market, which is a reflection on both the length of time the market has been open, but also the level of interest due to some big names being linked.”

Former U’s boss Michael Appleton was the first to head the market, backed from 14/1 to 5/2 when Pep Clotet was sacked.

Frank Lampard was then supported from 9/1 into a 1/3 favourite after a national newspaper linked him with the job.

But he was replaced by David Unsworth, backed from 28/1 to 1/4.

The big move, however, was for Craig Bellamy, whose 33/1 odds quickly disappeared and he was soon as short as 1/5.

He remained the hot favourite until last week when, having confirmed a deal was agreed with former U’s owner Darryl Eales, then ruled himself out of the running after Thanakarnjanasuth’s takeover.

Brian McDermott and Patrick Kluivert have since both been backed from 33/1 to favouritism.

And Robinson is now the latest to lead the field.

The other big moves have been for former England boss Steve McClaren - whom the Oxford Mail understands would be interested in the job - whose odds came in from 25/1 to 9/4 and Simon Grayson, who went from 18/1 into 4/1 before taking over at League One rivals Bradford City.

United’s search is not the longest in recent times, however, with Everton taking 61 days before appointing Sam Allardyce.