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easy to raise the money because we have got that great story and what we do works."

"I have got ideas pouring out of my head," he Roshes Mens says. "Some of them are so simple I don't understand why someone hasn't already thought of them but I won't know the answers until I get in there.

"So, I had actually missed a call from them but had no idea. Barry just said to me 'we've won it'. I looked over at my wife and gave her a thumbs up, then I had a limoncello, had a photograph taken with the lifeguard, and the next phone call was to organise a private jet to take me home."

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"The first was 'does two plus two equal six?' Because if it only makes four, there's no point.

Betfred secured the backing of a consortium of banks and, by the end of March, there were just two left in the race for the Tote, at which point the rivalry became more intense.

"I do things in a proper manner and I will speak to the chief executive and say 'when can I come in to see you and have a look around?'

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He had long believed the organisation which pools punters' stakes and dishes out winnings based on the size of the cash pot should be in private ownership and was determined to get his hands on it.

"There is nothing I like more than sitting with a team and arguing about things. I like it when people fight back and say 'that is a load of rubbish Fred'." For Mr Done, who founded Betfred with brother Peter in 1967, the bidding process for the Tote began in September.

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The conversation marked the successful end of a gruelling eight month race for the Tote and the fulfillment of a long term personal ambition for Salford born Done.

That is not to say Mr Done doesn't have big plans for his new purchase.

"That means people may have been frightened about expressing themselves but under me, they will get the freedom to do that.

Sir Martin Broughton.

Mr Done also wants the Tote to 'go international' and target British racing fans in countries like Hong Kong, South Africa and France.

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He thinks by taking it out of public ownership, he can make the Tote more efficient and, ultimately, profitable. Mr Done intends to introduce a bonus scheme for Tote staff, to reward strong performance and encourage them to come up with fresh ideas. Over time, he hopes to grow Betfred by adding more shops.

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Betfred will take control of the Tote's 517 betting shops across the UK and absorb its 4,000 plus workforce, including more than 300 at its Wigan base, into a single operation.

Betfred submitted its first formal bid in December. The firm, which employs more than 4,000 nationally and has a UK wide network of 840 high street shops, was initially one of 20 bidders in the running, which was whittled down to six, then four. "When I first knew it was for sale, I said to my finance director that there were two things I needed to know," recalls Mr Done.

After months of lobbying and campaigning, Betfred had found itself one of two remaining bidders for the state owned betting business, going head to head with Sports Invest ment Partners, a consortium headed by ex British Airways chief executive Nike Roshe Run Pink And Purple

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Roshes Mens

"It was completely foreign to us," he says. "Our advisers in London have told us it was the hardest deal they have ever done. It felt like the goalposts kept moving, though I should really say the finishing post because it was a horse race, not a football match.

Behind the scenes, Mr Done found himself travelling to London on a weekly basis to lobby MPs.

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"One of the unfortunate sides of having the 'for sale' sign up for as long as they did at the Tote is there is not much certainty.

"Even in this awful recession and I have never known a worse one it was relatively Nike Roshe Run Mens Blue Suede

Meanwhile, Betfred had high profile backers in its corner, including Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was among the hundreds to send a congratulatory text to Mr Done over the weekend.

The 68 year old father of four meets Business Week at Betfred's Warrington headquarters on his first full working day since being declared triumphant.

"But it looked like two plus two did make six and we spent months working on our figures and we were conservative about what we thought we could do. That was the first thing, then the next thing was 'could we get the money? So, we started doing the rounds and we got a great reception.

Mr Done faced opposition from sections of the racing world but he and his advisers managed to convince the government their bid, valued at 265m, represented the best deal for the industry.

"I would never walk into the building without permission," he says.

"One of the unfortunate things about this whole process is I have never been in the place. I don't know what I will see when I get there and I don't know any of the staff but I expect it to be some time this week."

´╗┐How Fred Done won the race for the Tote

He balks at claims he has already moved into the Tote's offices to lay down the law to his new employees.

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