CLOAK OF DARKNESS SURROUNDS MERCURY MUSIC PRIZE!

But the book has already been closed on the event - and Dizzee Rascal is still favourite...

Hundreds of punters are flooding bookies with bets on The Darkness to win the 2003 MERCURY MUSIC PRIZE – even though the book was closed on the event on Friday (September 5).

Ladbrokes, the world’s biggest

bookmaker, say that punters in west London are still trying to place hundreds of pounds on the band’s chart-topping album ‘Permission To Land’ winning the event, which takes place tomorrow (September 9) in central London.

Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush said : “We are inclined to believe there are dark forces at work. Hundreds of people have been trying to back The Darkness to win, especially in our shops in west London.

“Dizzee Rascal remains our 4/1 favourite to scoop the prize.”

When betting closed the prices were as follows:

Dizzee Rascal – ‘Boy In Da Corner’ (4/1)

The Darkness – ‘Permission To Land’ (5/1)

Athlete – ‘Vehicles And Animals’ (5/1)

Coldplay – ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’ (6/1)

Radiohead – ‘Hail To The Thief’ (7/1)

The Thrills – ‘So Much For The City’ (8/1)

Martina Topley-Bird – ‘Quixotic’ (10/1)

Lemon Jelly – ‘Lost Horizons’ (10/1)

Floetry – ‘Floetic’ (12/1)

Eliza Carthy – ‘Anglicana’ (14/1)

Soweto Kinch – ‘Conversations With The Unseen’ (14/1)

Terri Walker – ‘Untitled’ (20/1)