Just when the market appeared to be in a peaceful state of equilibrium, this happened on Sunday evening in Mexico..
In these few moments Jonny Brownlee went from being 1.01 to win the Triathlon World Series to runner-up. More importantly to SPOTY betting fans, it marked the beginning of a plunge on brother Alistair’s price from 200/1 with bookmakers (400 on Betfair) to him now challenging for favouritism (4.3).
There was some debate about whether this helping hand should have meant disqualification. But it appears it was within the rules. Whatever some may think, it has caused something of a sensation. It was the number one story on the BBC Sport website, the ‘good news closer’ on all the main news programmes and was featured in the newspapers. It was shared thousands of times on social media and retweeted by celebrities.
The question is: can Alistair win SPOTY?
Firstly, Alistair has to make the shortlist. It’s worth a quick reminder of the criteria that the panel looks at when deciding who should be on the shortlist:
- Reflects UK sporting achievements on the national and/or international stage;
- Represents the breadth and depth of UK sports; and
- Takes into account ‘impact’ over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.
Based on all these, he’s the standout candidate.
In Rio he became the first man to retain the Olympic title. Triathlon is growing, covering the main mass-participation sports. And his actions to help his brother have crossed over into the mainstream, transcending the sport itself.
It’s that last point that gives Alistair a big advantage over the other Olympians in this most competitive of years. I’ve struggled to remember when there has been something like this that has the ability to effortlessly draw on the crucial support of casual viewers on the night, in particular women. Gazza’s tears is perhaps is the closest example.
There are also plenty of question marks about those up alongside him in the market. A SPOTY winner invariably has an element of novelty factor. Murray and Farah don’t offer such a thing.
It’s a real shame I didn’t put him up on here at the bigger prices. It could be that as the autumn moves on people forget a bit about what happened this week and the price drifts. But on the night it will always be a powerful VT that may well just clinch things. He’s just such a nice lad to boot.
So this most unpredictable of events has added intrigue to an already fascinating SPOTY year. What do you think about Alistair’s chances? Please feel free to keep the debate going in the comments section.