the Root to SPOTY?

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England smashed the Aussies at Edgbaston yesterday in the semi-final of the cricket world cup. It’s been a slow burner of a tournament, not helped by its drawn-out format and it being live only on Sky. But now England head to Lord’s for the final on Sunday against New Zealand in swashbuckling form and as 1/3 (1.34 on Betfair) favourites.

Sky have agreed for the broadcast to be free-to-air on Channel 4 (More4 while the F1 is on). This will give it potential at least to be a national experience (there is serious viewing competition with Federer v Djokovic over at Wimbledon but many will keep an eye on both). Over the last few years it feels like cricket has lost a lot of its wide appeal. The exclusive Sky deal has been blamed but also the game is more fragmented now with T20 tournaments dominating players’ motivations due to the money on offer. For many fans the game as a whole has felt less captivating during this period of rapid change. A first England cricket world cup win can cut through to the mainstream once more.

There always scope for an upset but if England perform as they have in their last three games they should win. It would surely be the highlight of the sporting year.

It’s always tricky to know who to back SPOTY-wise in team sports and a match-winning performance in the final could be key – it could come from anyone in this team. The upcoming Ashes complicates things a little too and there’s a nagging doubt about what a series loss against Australia would do to SPOTY prices. But an England victory would keep cricket in the news all the way through to September. England are 10/11 (1.85) favourites. It seems best to focus on those who’ll be involved on Sunday and in the Ashes. Joe Root, the test captain, is the obvious one. He’s currently clear as England’s leading run scorer in the world cup. The market has picked him out as the most likely too. Jason Roy will probably be invited to open in the Ashes. With Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler they have the ability to cause carnage in the final and in the tests.

Jofra Archer is England’s leading wicket taker in the world cup and looks sure to make his test debut. Ben Stokes is always involved in the thick of the action whenever he plays and Chris Woakes has been in top form. These look to be the main players with Root most likely to be the face of the summer.

In terms of SPOTY positions it will be worth keeping an eye on key performances in the final, although prices could go quickly. The top of the SPOTY market looks there for the taking so it’s worth an interest at this stage in the hope England get over the line with the risk being the match winning performance comes from someone else. It’s might be worth a small cover on one-day captain Eoin Morgan even though he won’t play tests – Barry McGuigan will tell you the Irish can win SPOTY too -although I’d be surprised if he’d be shortlisted or poll above others.

* 1.5 pts win Joe Root 8/1 general

* 0.2 pts win on each of Jonny Bairstow 50/1 general; Eoin Morgan 20/1 Bet Victor, Unibet; Jos Buttler 50/1 Ladbrokes/Coral; Jason Roy 33/1 general; Jofra Archer 100/1 Sky Bet, 40/1 general; Ben Stokes 50/1 general (couldn’t see Woakes listed but is on Betfair)

* 2 pts lay England v New Zealand at 1.35 (liability 0.7 pts) on Betfair exchange as cover

Looking at the rest of the SPOTY market, Lewis Hamilton is cruising along and is set for a sixth world championship. But he always is vulnerable to a more unusual achievement. Dina Asher-Smith has been beaten twice recently in the 100m and it will be tough for her this year in the world championships. While Raheem Sterling has been in great form and a respected voice against racism, his sporting achievements might make it difficult to get on the shortlist.

Last year’s SPOTY winner Geraint Thomas is showing good form in the Tour De France and trades around evens to win it. Froome not making the shortlist after wining the Tour creates some doubt as to whether Thomas will be on it this year but he would likely trade a lot shorter than the current 16/1 if he won a second yellow jersey. He also has the world championships in September in Yorkshire where he’d have a good chance in the time trial event.

* 1 pt win Geraint Thomas 16/1 Ladbrokes/Coral, William Hill

(available to lay for Tour De France at around 2.24 on Betfair if wanting to cover)

 

SPOTY 2018 preview

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SPOTY season burst into life last week following Tyson Fury’s draw against Deontay Wilder and the announcement of the 2018 Greatest Sporting Moment (GSM) and World Sport Star (WSS) shortlists.

The fight has enthused boxing fans with many having Fury as the winner on points but it was his remarkable recovery in the final round that lit up social media:

There is an appealing comeback factor to the Gypsy King following all the problems he’s had and he appears to have won many sports fans and the media over.

The SPOTY panel apparently reconvened specially to add his 12th round revival to the GSM list. The key question is – is he on the shortlist for the main award? For the first time this will be revealed on the night, in the show itself.

He’s arguably had more impact on the public than anyone this year but for sporting achievement it must be doubtful as to whether he’s done enough – a draw is a draw. If the panel included him there’s a fair possibility he would win the big prize. This doesn’t seem desirable given that the heavyweight boxing division is on the cusp of some further blockbuster fights with both Anthony Joshua and Fury in striking distance of being undisputed champion. It would seem better from a SPOTY brand point of view to save the possibility of Fury winning SPOTY until later after a win.

It’s the inaugural GSM this year so we don’t really know much about what any nominations here can tell us about who’s on the shortlist for the main award. But I can’t help but think that adding Fury to the GSM list was the panel’s way of recognising him this year and that will be sufficient.

This hasn’t stopped a load of money wanting to back Fury on the exchange both to win (now around 9.6 on Betfair (went out to around 20-40 directly after the result of the fight was called)) and top 3 (4.0). There’s an entrenched battle between those who see him as the man to vote for and those who are sceptical he’ll make the cut. It may be that many casual punters are not fully aware of the shortlist element, with layers taking the risk that he’ll line up on the 16th.

With the Wilder bout fresh in the memory in it looks worth a bet for Fury at 3/1 to topple the England football team for the GSM (the full list is here). Their world cup penalty shootout win against Colombia is favourite at around evens. While it was a stand out moment this year, attracting huge viewing figures, it’s not actually that impressive a feat. Social media possibly suggests more motivation to vote among England netball fans for their last second Commonwealth gold win over favourites Australia – at 7/1 they look worth a small play too. Voting is done by registering online and closes on Friday.

The WSS contenders are here. Simone Biles is the odds-on favourite. Votes can be logged from overseas for the award but Francesco Molinari and his perfect Ryder Cup should appeal to domestic voters who may still make up the majority and his 3/1 may be a shade of value.

The main award is looking a very competitive heat. There are four contenders trading under 10 which I haven’t known before.

Normally a week out from SPOTY there would be a variety of polls in various publications that would influence the market and give some indication but with no concrete shortlist to work from these are absent at the moment.

The BBC have said that the shortlist will be smaller than it has been previously. There’s room for a wildcard or two, and nothing is certain, but the following six look to have strong claims to be involved: Harry Kane, Geraint Thomas, Lewis Hamilton, Dina Asher-Smith, Lizzy Yarnold and Adam Peaty.

In August I covered the relative merits of Kane and Thomas and much of it still applies. The market then moved decisively in favour of Thomas. Kane’s late winner against Croatia at the end of November put a spanner in the works of those who have followed the advice on the site. Since then Kane has eased his way back to the front of the market (now around 2.72). Just before England turned around the one-nil deficit in that match, Kane had gone out to around 5.0 and if England had been relegated from their Nations League group I think it would have scuppered his SPOTY chances. As it is they’ve been rejuvenated.

By winning the group it puts a more positive light on England’s year and reflects better on their world cup performance. Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds are booked in for the show and Gareth Southgate and his team will be celebrated. It could be that the public go along with this and in a close contest carry Kane home. But it may not be that clear cut. It remains the case that England’s World Cup run was unspectacular (losing three games) and there is doubt about how universally popular Kane is. Kane’s teams didn’t win anything and the Nations League semis and final are next year.

Thomas is still in with a good chance and my view is that he represents the best value as it stands at 5/2. Last week he won the Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA) sportsman of the year award which can be a reasonable indicator of SPOTY success (although voting for it opens in mid-October so it doesn’t fully account for events since then). As expected he also won Welsh SPOTY and if the Welsh and cycling fans get behind him on the night (as they have both done frequently in past editions) he can still poll very well.

Hamilton (11/2) a mainstay on recent SPOTY nights. He’ll get solid loyal support and it may be that last year his vote was dampened somewhat by the tax avoidance stories that came out around this time. The lack of novelty about another F1 title though may make it tricky for him to poll enough to win it for a second time.

Asher-Smith (20/1) won the Sunday Times and also the SJA sportswoman of the year award. She’s had an outstanding breakout year and is the clear top female chance ahead of Yarnold. The BBC would be pleased if she got on the podium as it broadcast the European championships and she looks set to become a poster girl for the worlds and Olympics coming up in 2019 and 2020 which will be on the channel. She’s got the look of a future SPOTY winner and should charm viewers when interviewed on the night.

Peaty’s (50/1) had a another excellent season breaking his own world record in Glasgow and picking up a raft of golds. He polled higher than Hamilton last year so can’t be fully discounted to do reasonably well again if he’s shortlisted.

I’ll keep an eye out for any further markets and bets as the week progresses in the build up to the big night and will add any thoughts on twitter or in the comments. It will be intriguing how the market reacts in-play once the shortlist is revealed – there could be some price swings. If you’ve any thoughts on how things will play out  please feel free to comment – the market suggests an open year and there could be a few different points of view around.

My selections for the year can be found here, with the following added today:

* 1pt win Tyson Fury comeback in 12th round to win GSM 3/1 William Hill, 5/2 Ladbrokes / Coral

* 1pt win England netball Commonwealth gold to win GSM 7/1 William Hill

* 1pt win Francesco Molinari to win WSS 3/1 William Hill

* 2pts win Geraint Thomas to win SPOTY 5/2 Paddy Power, Betfred

Followers of the site are relying on Thomas to get it done with Asher-Smith as an outside hope – she could be in with a good podium shout and could be a bet if some more top 3 markets become available.

Lastly, as usual here’s a look at some of the minimum prices traded on Betfair this year: Kane 1.44, Thomas 2.36, Hamilton 5.0, Fury 4.9, Asher-Smith 5.6, Alastair Cook 9.0, Yarnold 9.2, Anthony Joshua 3.15, Jordan Pickford 6.2, Chris Froome 13, Elise Christie 9.2, Rory McIlroy 10.0, Phil Taylor 5.6.

G whizz – mid term report

Image result for geraint thomas alpe d'huez

England was gripped by Gareth Southgate’s young team exceeding expectations in the World Cup. In the process Harry Kane was backed down to as short as 1.44 and Jordan Pickford into 6.0 for his goalkeeping heroics.

Croatia spoilt the party in the semis and England were outclassed by Belgium in the 3rd/4th playoff.  So there was an inevitable feeling of anti-climax, although Kane won the golden boot, emulating Gary Lineker in Mexico 86. There was no airport homecoming celebration like the one that greeted Paul Gascoigne after Italia 1990 but the general feeling was that England football fans could feel pride about their team again.

Kane settled as clear SPOTY favourite after the tournament fluctuating just above evens on Betfair.

A challenger has quickly emerged from the pack in the form of Geraint Thomas, who on Sunday became the first Welshman to win the Tour De France. It was his first grand tour win coming in the autumn of a stellar career but one that many assumed would see him fall short of a major.

Wales is proud of its son and well wishers have been out in force for someone who clearly has the full respect of his fellow professionals and is very popular. He’s been front page news and has been happy hitting the breakfast and daytime TV and radio circuit in the glow of his victory. I hope followers managed to pick up some of the 14/1 advised on the spotybet Twitter feed.

At this stage the bookies have Kane at 11/10 v Thomas at 5/2 (2.1 v 3.8 on Betfair).

My feeling is that the prices should be much closer than that, possibly with Thomas as favourite. It’s really Southgate who was the darling of England’s campaign in Russia (but managers/ coaches have historically not been eligible for the main SPOTY award). Winning the golden boot is a great achievement but is that in itself enough to drive enough people to vote. Lineker didn’t make the top three in 1986 and nor did Euro 96’s top scorer Alan Shearer. These were a long time ago though and with different competition but it’s worth noting.

England footballers have done better on other occasions – Gazza won SPOTY in 1990 and Michael Owen in 1998 when he scored that mesmerising goal in the classic match against Argentina (he was also joint Premier League top scorer for the 97/98 season). David Beckham won in 2001 for that last minute winner at Old Trafford against Greece to take England to the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

These examples all had stand out moments when the stakes were high that live long in the memory. That doesn’t seem to be quite the case with Kane this year. When club rivalries renew and the football season approaches the key festive fixtures there must be some doubt whether fans can collaborate enough to get him over the line on SPOTY night. The main hope would appear to be if there’s plenty of goodwill for England during the show (Southgate could win coach of the year) and viewers want to reward them through Kane.

Cycling’s popularity has been weakened by the Lance Armstrong admissions, Team Sky’s controversial TUE usage and the case against Chris Froome for using too much of his inhaler (the case was dropped just before the Tour). Thomas’s price may be holding up as a reflection of this and that Froome has won the Tour four times previously but not even made the SPOTY podium.

The key and obvious difference is the Wales factor. And this is arguably the country’s greatest sporting achievement. Welsh votes would have been important in Ryan Giggs (1999) and Joe Calzaghe (2007) winning the award. Perhaps most strikingly they lifted Leigh Halfpenny to 2nd in 2013. The message to be read from social media in the last week suggests that Wales will be willing to show masses of support for G on SPOTY night. Significant multi-voting could be in play.

When Froome first won the Tour in 2013 it was in the shadow of Armstrong’s doping confession’s on Oprah in the January of that year and also came hot on the heels of Wiggins the year before. After that the novelty factor in his wins had gone. He won the Vuelta last year as well as the Tour and indications were that he was set to poll very well but the salbutamol case leak put paid to that.

Thomas appears to connect more warmly to audiences and for those who have followed his career from Olympic gold in 2008 there could be a wider willingness in the UK to vote for him not just for his Tour win but in recognition of his career as a whole. Thomas regularly played the role of super domestique on the road so there is an underdog feel to his win which also appeals.

As ever this far out there is still plenty of opportunity for leftfield challengers to emerge and campaigns to build. It’s difficult though to envisage a stronger candidate coming out of the Ryder Cup or the European Championships coming up in Glasgow and Berlin. Boxing is still bubbling away yet to really explode. A Tyson Fury win over Deontay Wilder in December could be entertaining and interesting in its timing but it remains to be seen. Anthony Joshua fights in September but any unification bout is still stuck on the horizon.

Lewis Hamilton is odds-on to win a 5th F1 title but his popularity appears to have peaked. Of the rank outsiders Tai Woffinden of speedway may be worth keeping an eye on.

I’m keen to know what people think on Kane v Thomas and whether I’m being too optimistic about the latter – please let me know in the comments if you get the chance.

 

 

career slam?

Rory

There is a brief window to get Rory McIlroy in the book today – prices may go quite quickly.

At 19:40 UK time McIlroy tees off at Augusta trying to overhaul his three-shot deficit to playing partner Patrick Reed and win the Masters. He’s 3.1 on Betfair exchange to do so.

A win would complete the set of major golf titles (the career grand slam) for McIlroy – something that has only been done by five other players, and only Tiger Woods in the last 30 years. So it would be a special achievement.

The northern Irishman famously blew a four-shot lead at the Masters in 2011 and has been looking for redemption ever since. In Reed he faces a formidable opponent. Although he’s yet to win a major he’s considered to have the temperament and game to win one soon. Reed and McIlroy have history too. Reed beat McIlroy by one hole in a fiery battle at the 2016 Ryder Cup so it looks set for an entertaining evening ahead.

While he is up against it somewhat and challengers could still spring from the pack behind, if Rory was to win tonight it’s easy to imagine his SPOTY price going very short. To give some indication Danny Willett traded at 6.2 when winning the Masters in 2016 and that was an Olympic year. The career slam aspect to this would add a crucial extra level to the achievement.

McIlroy should remain in the news through the rest of the year with chances of other major and big tournament wins including the Ryder Cup in Paris in September.

I still have Anthony Joshua as a real threat this year if he can unify the heavyweight division but that means a fight with Deontay Wilder and that is far from guaranteed at this stage.

* 1.5 point win Rory McIlroy 12/1 Coral / Ladbrokes, 10/1 Bet 365, Unibet, Winner

* 1 point lay Rory McIlory on Betfair Exchange at 3.1 (liability 2.1 points) for the Masters

go Mo – SPOTY 2017 review

Mo

There was shock all round as Kenny Dalglish revealed this year’s top 3. And Mo Farah winning wasn’t the biggest – Anthony Joshua was gubbed at the minimum price of 1.01 on Betfair to make the podium.

The Mo-Rea-Peacock 1-2-3 announcement was music to the ears of followers of the site – Mo was flagged up back in the spring at 25/1 and twice at 40/1. After the disappointment of the Chris Froome failed drugs test news, I was happy enough to see the more recent pick of Jonathan Rea land a place, so to then have the winner was a bonus.

It was pleasing to avoid getting drawn into the AJ and Lewis Hamilton hype (and Jermain Defoe earlier in the year) as they always seemed too short in the betting. But with their prices remaining stubbornly low it was easy to think they’d be right up there in the voting. As it happened it was a blanket finish with less than five percentage points covering the top six from Mo with 15.3% to Hamilton with 11.1% (the full numbers are here).

In hindsight there were perhaps some warning signs around AJ and Hamilton as they showed as being in with the pack in some of the polls. Without the inhaler story my feeling remains that Froome would have been top 3 and, looking at the results now, I think a likely winner.

There was simply a lack of novelty in contenders’ achievements at the top of the market which, with Froome weakened, made things precarious.

The edit and presentation during the show could have made some crucial differences. It was interesting to note that the top 3 all had solo segments on the show whereas Peaty with Kane, Froome with Hamilton and Walkden with AJ had to share theirs. The middle pair’s segment seemed particularly downbeat.

Peacock would have benefitted from his Strictly run and Rea had a strong campaign behind him. I thought Mo’s VT was the most striking and the lifetime achievement aspect to it clearly helped him. His amusingly chaotic interview with his son may have too. It was nice to see Mo’s delight and shock at winning it after all these years. Running must be the most competitive sport of them all and his achievements (subject to the usual drug caveats) are exceptional.

The final tally for 2017 was a profit of 92.44 points with a ROI of 428.95%. (The full betting results breakdown can be found here.) It was a pleasure to hit such a big priced winner for a decent sized stake (especially after being on Mo for so many years) and I hope followers have enjoyed collecting some bumper profits. Not all years will be like that, that’s for sure. Merry Christmas and see you next year.

Paul

 

‘adverse analytical finding’ – SPOTY 2017 show preview

Waking up on Wednesday morning to the news that Chris Froome had failed a drugs test had me reaching for a few puffs of the old Salbutamol myself.

Ever since the shortlist was announced I’d become increasingly confident Froome would be in the top 3, with a fair chance of beating Lewis Hamilton to second and even with a squeak of winning the whole thing. His odds on top 3 had gone from 5/6 to 8/15 and ‘without AJ’ from 4/1 to 3/1 and lower. It was building up into quite a bet that suddenly became virtually worthless as his odds rightly drifted dramatically.

It’s always at the back of your mind some sort of scandal like this could happen, but for it to involve Team Sky and Froome after all that’s gone before, and in SPOTY week, was a bit of a shocker.

In terms of eking out some profit this year, the news has this site like:

There are reports that, in the video link-up with Froome during his segment on the show tomorrow, the BBC presenter will be asking about the test result in the Vuelta. There’s every chance over the coming months that he will be stripped of the title and banned. It’s difficult to imagine Froome’s support not being significantly reduced on the night.

Joshua has shortened into a best-priced 1/7 and will appeal as a feel-good alternative to those such as Hamilton, Froome and Mo Farah who have been dogged by controversies. He will also be the only one of those in attendance in the studio.

Hamilton is a best priced 2/5 to finish best of the rest and in a weak year he should get enough support from his loyal fan base to get 2nd but it’s not a certainty.

The other place in the top 3 is up for grabs.

The question is how motivated will Spurs fans be to pick up the phone for Harry Kane. He’s had a great year but without Tottenham winning something there must be doubts about his support translating to votes.

Farah actually has a chance still but momentum appears to be building behind Jonathan Rea. He’s been on the Northern Ireland radio circuit this weekend and various figures in the motorcycling world are right behind him. He’s been doing press interviews, including one in The Times, and appears a genuine, easy to vote for role model.

I’m going for Joshua-Hamilton-Rea as the one-two-three and for fun a full prediction of:

  1. Joshua
  2. Hamilton
  3. Rea
  4. Farah
  5. Kane
  6. Froome
  7. Peacock
  8. Peaty
  9. Shrubsole
  10. Konta
  11. Walkdon
  12. Christie

Coral / Ladbrokes have a market up on the Joshua vote share: under 20% 20/1, 20-30% 5/2, 30-40% 6/4, 40-50% 9/4, over 50% 8/1. The last winner to get over 40% was Andy Murray after his first Wimbledon win in 2013. With AJ’s events being pay-per-view and the Klitschko fight being way back in April there are reasons to think a very wide margin victory is unlikely even after the Froome news.

Selections:

* 3 pts Jonathan Rea top 3 13/8 Coral / Ladbrokes (7/4 Unibet)

* 0.5 pts Anthony Joshua vote share 20-30% 5/2 Coral / Ladbrokes

* 0.5 pts Anthony Joshua vote share 30-40% 6/4 Coral / Ladbrokes

And finally it’s always interesting to have a look at some of the lowest outright prices on Betfair over the course of the year. Here are some of the highlights:

Jermain Defoe 5.0, Murray 4.0, Ben Ainslie 6.4, Konta 4.0, Farah 5.5, Hamilton 6.8, Froome 8.2, Peaty 16, Shrubsole 27.0

shortlist review

shortlist 2017

As ever social media seemed more concerned with who was off the shortlist than who was on it. It wasn’t a surprise that Jermain Defoe was left out – it would have been strange if he won SPOTY for something not based on sporting acheivement and probably would have opened up even more tedious debate. I’m sure his friendship with Bradley Lowery will be recognised on the night.

Twelve were named with probably only six worth serious consideration for the podium. Those are AJ (best price 1/4), Lewis Hamilton (6/1), Chris Froome (16/1), Mo Farah (25/1), Harry Kane (40/1) and Jonathan Rea (40/1) (the others are Adam Peaty, Jonnie Peacock, Anja Shrubsole, Johanna Konta, Bianca Walkden and Elise Christie). I’ve not been able to spot any each way prices, with all bookies going win only (sometimes each way the first two would be offered). A selection of bookies now have markets up for ‘winner without Joshua’ and ‘top 3’ though which is good news. Betfair now has the forecast and tricast markets.

It’s not the most inspiring of SPOTY years as there’s a lack of novelty in the achievements at the top of the market. On this day two years ago Tyson Fury beat Wladamir Klitschko. So AJ hasn’t really broken new ground in that sense. Froome has already won the Tour De France three times before as has Hamilton with the F1 title. Farah won another long distance gold to add to his big collection.

The last three are true sporting giants though and up there with Britain’s finest sportspeople of all time. Froome also won the Vuelta this season becoming only the third cyclist to win the Vuelta and the Tour De France in the same season. Hamilton overtook Jackie Stewart to become the most successful British F1 driver with four titles and broke Michael Shumacher’s career record for pole positions. Farah retired from the track as Britain’s most successful track athlete, winning the 10,000m at the world championships in London.

There is plenty of reason then as to why each could gain support. All three also have bad publicity to overcome though. Froome and Farah in terms of the ongoing drugs allegations in their sports and Hamilton in relation to the recent tax avoidance story. All  have had criticism for not being based in the UK (although Mo has now returned home) and two for not being British at all.

It’s tricky to unravel how this all impacts on how the public will vote. Historically Froome and Farah have notoriously polled poorly, with only Mo reaching the podium with 3rd place back in 2011. Hamilton only managed 5th place back in 2015 but previously upset Rory McIlroy to win SPOTY in 2014.

In AJ’s favour is that his April scrap with Klitschko was absorbing entertainment. The assumption would be that BBC will be allowed some footage of this fight on the night (even though it was on Sky) which should make for a good VT. He’s very marketable and extremely popular, selling out big stadiums minutes after tickets are released. The negatives are that, although he laboured through an easier fight more recently, his Klitschko win seems a long time ago and there is the promise of an even bigger 2018 where he could unify the heavyweight titles.

AJ appears the most likely winner but 1/4 does seem skinny.

Usually the Telegraph website has a poll soon after the shortlist is announced which has historically been fairly accurate. I’ve not seen any sign of it this year. The other polls spotted give a mixed picture. The Sun and the Mirror both show AJ ahead (Sun: AJ 26%, Ham 18%, Farah 16%, Froome 10%, Kane 9%; Mirror: AJ 43%, Ham 19%, Froome 9%, Farah 8%, Kane 8%. (although the phrasing of the latter poll asks ‘who will win’ which may not be as revealing as asking ‘who should win’).

The Radio Times and Eurosport also have votes. The Radio Times one could be a reasonable fit with the BBC SPOTY voter but it’s a bit unclear how many have voted in it. And the Eurosport one could easily be somewhat skewed as it is the channel of choice for cycling fans. Both show Froome clear top of the pile with AJ 2nd just ahead of the rest.

Overall though I have been struck by the general social media support for Froome’s achievements. In previous years this has been missing. He was surprisingly omitted from the shortlist last year and could it be that there’s been a storing up of goodwill towards him that could play out this year. His Vuelta win sets this year apart from his previous years and it is also a weaker edition this time round.

Kane and Rea are the other contenders that are of interest. Vardy and Bale underperformed last year and there are doubts about how well Kane will poll too. Spurs have huge support though and he’ll need careful monitoring.

This year Rea became Superbikes champion for the 3rd time and was also awarded an MBE. He appears to have a very loyal fan base and there was a petition for him to be included on the shortlist. He lives on the Isle of Man and is Northern Irish so he could get significant regional support. 10,000 people signed the petition so the potential for multi phone votes should be respected. If there is a campaign type candidate this year Rea looks the most likely.

Followers of the selections on the site so far this year are essentially on Mo to place at good prices (now a best priced 9/4). As always with Mo and SPOTY he’s been a bit unfortunate – both Hamilton and Froome went on win the F1 title and the Vuelta respectively.

At the current prices it looks worth favouring Froome and Rea over Hamilton, AJ and Kane.

* 0.5pts win Froome 14/1 generally available inc Betfred, Bet Victor, Betway (16/1 with Boylesports)

* 1pt Froome ‘without AJ’ 4/1 Bet 365 (7/2 generally available elsewhere)

* 5pts Froome Top 3 Finish 5/6 William Hill (10/11 with Boylesports)

* 2pts Rea Top 3 Finish 11/4 Ladbrokes, Coral

I’ll keep an eye out for any new markets that appear, including hopefully a Team of the Year one.

If you’ve any thoughts on what looks a bit of a tricky year please do add your comments and any predictions of the 1-2-3.

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