There’s not been much to report SPOTY-wise recently – barring a big surprise it’s all but over with Rory McIlroy 1.12 on Betfair and a best-priced 1/8 with the bookies. Hype around the night has been at a minimum – just as well many will say!
There are still plenty of markets to play in though with the Without-McIlroy market, the top 3 market etc. By the time of the night on Sunday 14 December 2014 there will be markets for each of the ten finishing positions.
Before then though I think there is a good opportunity to enter the Without-McIlroy market:
* 8 points GARETH BALE at 33/1 with Ladbrokes (25/1 generally) back to lay (stake scale 1-10pts)
The shortlist of ten is selected by a panel and announced on BBC One’s The One Show on Monday 24 November 2014 – full details here.
Will Bale be on the list? You’ve got to think he must be – a) he would be the only footballer on the list b) he scored in, and won, the European Cup Final c) he’s the only British footballer on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or d) he’s still the world’s most expensive footballer e) Wales have a chance of being top of their qualifying group for the European Championships on SPOTY night and, in any event, have a good chance of qualifying.
Assuming Bale makes the shortlist then what are his chances of getting votes? I think they are pretty good.
Carl Froch – There was a lot of publicity surrounding his fight with George Groves. That was back in February and I am not sure he has really captured the imagination of the wider public.
Lizzy Yarnold, Claudia Fragapane, and Jo Pavey – There appears to be a groundswell of support for women to be further represented in SPOTY and it could be that these women get a fair amount of publicity – in particular, Pavey who impressively won the European 10,000m gold at 40. How much this will transfer to votes is the question. I have my doubts about this mainly based on how much their actual performances were recognised by the wider public. On balance, I am not convinced many people will actually remember them and vote for them. Based on that I think they are short in the market.
Jonny Wilkinson – I can see how there could be a Ryan Giggs-2009 element to Wilkinson’s popularity this year, plus he won the European Cup in his last game. That said, he has already won the SPOTY award in 2003 and, while he remains extremely popular, his actual achievements this year are no better than Bale’s. The emotional vote could kick in but when there is such a short-priced favourite, such as McIlroy, my intuition is that this will dampen such a vote – people may think, ‘what’s the point?’.
Lewis Hamilton – He’s the obvious obstacle at 4/6. I wouldn’t bet on it though, as while he is the likeliest runner-up, I remain sceptical as to his wider appeal and that of F1 these days. A terrific driver, he failed to win SPOTY in 2008 despite winning the championship and being the heavy favourite. He also has to win the F1 title this year which is no formality, although he is 1/3 to do so, and with double points available on the last race of the season anything can happen. Again, as with everyone, there could be a dampening effect on votes for Hamilton due to McIlroy appearing such a certainty.
So with Bale at 33/1 I think this is a terrific bet. He has produced some memorable performances for club and country this year, is a likeable lad and instantly recognisable to a large proportion of the population. But most importantly he is Welsh. The Welsh have consistently got behind their own in large numbers with Joe Calzaghe, Giggs and Leigh Halfpenny (2nd last year to Andy Murray) recently benefitting.
I can see Bale being nominated for the shortlist and his odds trading much, much shorter on the night than the current 33/1. While he may not finish runner-up we can trade out for a good profit.