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.



10 thoughts on “G whizz – mid term report”

  1. Hi Paul. One potential stumbling block for a Geraint Thomas SPOTY victory would be if Mark Williams were to make the 2018 shortlist. I could see Williams picking up 5-10k of the ‘Welsh vote’, which could make all of the difference in a tight race.

    Looking at the current prices, I can see some value in AJ’s current price of 16/1. I get the sense that he will win SPOTY at some point, the question is whether it will be this year.

    1. That’s a good shout about Mark Williams, James. I should really have given him a mention. Snooker players have been notoriously absent from the SPOTY shortlists. Williams perhaps has more chance than most this year of being included as he became the oldest world champ since 1978 and it was a thrilling final – he was also true to his word to go naked to his news conference and celebrated his win heavily. He does seem a popular character and as you say the Welsh could get behind him. Snooker fans have been dormant on SPOTY night so there is the possibility they’d be motivated to vote to make their presence known. At this stage I’d guess Thomas would be sufficiently ahead but worth monitoring for sure.

      Agree on AJ having winner potential – would have to think best chance is if he unifies the division which won’t be this year so he looks well held on his 2017 polling. Also a chance he’s not even shortlisted this time round.

  2. I agree that I would prefer Geraint Thomas over Harry Kane. Looking at last year’s vote, Kane received very few votes. I am not surprised he is short in the betting but from speaking to most people, the way that he won the Golden Boot was far from impressive and he has not convinced the public. Combined with his poor vote last year he is a lay at the prices.

    Of far more interest is Adam Peaty. He came 5th last year and was not far off winning the whole thing despite a very low profile role. He has received some great coverage this week and is becoming a household name. I have taken all the 50/1 EW with Skybet I could and he is still 33/1 EW. That is a standout bet in my view, good odds for a Top 3 with a sneaky chance of winning. Hopefully he gets a 4th gold tonight.

  3. Hi Fred – thanks a lot for the post. That’s the impression I get too about Kane and how his golden boot was perceived by many.

    I’m with you on all those points about Peaty. He’s quietly building his popularity with his outstanding achievements and I also noted his impressive polling last year. The 4 golds, the WR and the Euros being in Glasgow make him a solid each way bet for those that can get on with Skybet. I’ve got him covered in the win market and will be monitoring his popularity in the build up to SPOTY – one thing’s for sure is that his VT will be impressive on the night (also got a gold and silver in the Commonwealth Games).

    The other obvious one to keep an eye on from this week is Dina Asher-Smith. She could land the sprint treble potentially, with certainly a great chance of the double. Her sunny personality will make voting for her easy and, if not this year, and she can carry on her form, looks a likely future SPOTY winner.

    1. Thanks for the reply and nice tip on DAS. I took what I was allowed at 33/1 EW on Skybet. It’s a shame that no other bookmakers are offering EW at present as it makes the market a lot less interesting!

  4. With Harry Kane continuing to make the market it looks sensible to take advantage of this now as he may drift further in time.

    Dina Asher-Smith has arrived and it seems safest to add her to the book. As it stands, she and Thomas look to have a reasonable chance of seeing off the others (although someone can always pop up). It may be that voters will want to wait to see if DAS can conquer the world stage but she’s a sparkling contender this year. (Ideally she would have been an each way bet but we have to make do with what’s available.)

    * 2 points win Geraint Thomas 9/4 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, Betway 2/1 general

    * 2 points win Dina Asher-Smith 9/1 Betfair Sportsbook, Betway, Boylesports 8/1 general

  5. Ref Kane – the problem with the betting market is we are used to looking at things through cold analytical eyes. With the SPOTY audience it’s more instinctive and emotional. Kane’s VT on the night will focus on the positives and there are some exhilarating moments amongst them. Yes we could have done better, but it was bloody brilliant while it lasted.

    1. Always keen to hear the other point of view Bryan. It was a giddy three weeks while it lasted. I do wonder about the VT for Kane. They could certainly bundle it up into an enjoyable segment. It did all perhaps end a little disappointingly for Kane though and he faces tough competition from G and DAS, two contenders with plenty of positivity surrounding them.

  6. Always expect the unexpected in this game. While hoping the selections so far would last us until shortlist announcement night (end of Nov), Alastair Cook went to the well one more time to craft out a ton in his last match for England. It’s been very well received.

    I’ve been mulling over what this means for SPOTY. On the one hand it was only a dead rubber of a match. But any legend of a sport retiring needs plenty of respect as it is a vote winner e.g. Mo last year. The doubt is will his very average year as a whole make the Lifetime Achievement award more fitting e.g. AP McCoy 2015.

    It could go either way but it is very possible he’s shortlisted. I have been backing him to build a medium-ish green and know a couple of respected voices like his chances. Given the decent equity built up on the Geraint Thomas position (now 6/4) it seems sensible to back him now with a view to topping up if shortlisted.

    Looks like the Fury v Wilder fight could be the remaining real key event to keep an eye on this year but anything can still happen.

    * 1.5 pts win Alastair Cook 10/1 generally available (11/1 Boylesports, 10Bet)

  7. Momentum is building behind Tyson Fury before his WBC heavyweight title clash against Deontay Wilder in the early hours of Sunday morning. His price has come in from around 2/1 to around 5/4 in the last couple of days (likely assisted by a barrage of patriotic British money).

    He’s been well supported in the SPOTY market too – now into a best priced 16/1. In 2015 when Fury beat Klitschko he traded as low as 5.7 on Betfair. This year has different circumstances and is a different market but it’s an interesting reference point. Fury’s always been a controversial character but there’s a feeling the wider media and public is warming to him these days.

    It looks well worth a punt to see what happens to his SPOTY price if he was to win at the weekend as it can be covered by backing Wilder in the match. It would hopefully at least provide a good trading position. Whether he could win SPOTY is another matter as he would have to get on the shortlist and maybe voters would want to wait before a potential AJ blockbuster bout next year. There is also the fact that AJ didn’t even get on the podium last time. But you never know.

    * 1.25 pts Tyson Fury 16/1 William Hill, Betway 14/1 general
    * 1 pt Deontay Wilder 5/6 Skybet, Betstars (1.83 on Betfair exchange)

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