SPOTY 2018 preview


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.

3 thoughts on “SPOTY 2018 preview”

  1. Any thoughts on Ronnie O’Sullivan to make the top 3? Obviously a big question is whether or not he makes the shortlist, but if he does, I can see him going very well.

    Although he didn’t win the World Championship this year, his UK Championship is a headline achievement, has the novelty factor of breaking the overall Triple Crown record and, perhaps most crucially, will be very fresh in the memory for voters. Plus there’s the fact that, irrespective of results, he’s so clearly the best in the world currently, and perhaps of all time – so he would definitely seem worthy of votes on the basis of it being a reward for his incredible career, akin to when Giggs won.

    Also get the sense from social media that he is very popular – would not be surprised to see a campaign develop, similar to those which have carried Rea, Sinfield and Skelton onto the podium in recent years.

    Having said which, would it necessarily be possible for any sort of campaign to develop, given the shortlist announcement on the night?

    1. If he’s on the list, I like his chances a lot Apleximus, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. Not just for top 3 but to have a good chance of winning it.

      I have to admit to not paying much attention to Ronnie’s chances thinking that as he hadn’t won the Worlds it would be difficult to add him to the list. Would they be willing to add him at this late stage? Not sure, would probably say no but maybe – he really deserves to be recognised one of these days and time is running out.

      If he’s on the shortlist his price will plummet even further, probably very low. A win bet at the 16s available (bigger on Betfair) would my way to play it at this stage if you think he can get on the shortlist (I have him covered myself).

      1. I haven’t been able to resist a speculative long odds punt on Ronnie – it’s just too tempting at that price.

        I can’t see Thomas or Hamilton winning – to be (perhaps unfairly) harsh, the reality is that there’s no novelty in either of their achievements. Hamilton finished well down last year after winning the Championship, and has been through the mill with fresh tax avoidance allegations in the last year, so personally would be astonished to see him reach the podium this time round.

        As for Thomas, winning the Tour doesn’t seem particularly spectacular anymore, considering the Wiggins/Froome success. Plus with our multi-discipline success, all the cycling wins are probably seeming a bit samey by now. The Welsh vote and the sense that he’s always been a bit of an Unsung Hero who’s finally had his time in the spotlight are positives for his chances – but not sure that will be enough in itself to get him over the line, bar a kind edit on the night.

        Dina Asher-Smith is an interesting one – she did really well this year, and I agree she interviews very well, but may well be hampered by her relative anonymity. Her time could well come if she wins a sprint gold at the world Champs next year or Tokyo 2020. I’m considering putting a few quid on her early on when next year’s market opens.

        By process of elimination, that leaves Kane as my most likely winner. The edit on the night showing our WC win which really captured the public imagination, plus the Nations League success is hugely favourable for him. However, I think Ronnie could run him close if nominated. He is an engaging personality, and Steve Davis has come out on BBC News today saying he hopes he’ll be nominated.

        Against Kane, his Golden Boot win wasn’t hugely impressive (3 penalties, 1 deflection off his heel as 4 of the 6 goals). He was beaten for the Premier League’s Golden Boot this year, and Vardy and Bale both massively underwhelmed in the 2016 vote from what I remember, despite having the shock PL win and a Champions League title behind them. And what’s more, if Spurs lose to Barcelona tomorrow night, they’ll almost definitely go out of the Champions League, which will seem a real damp squib.

        Having said that, tomorrow’s game could be a key one to monitor – a goal-scoring performance from Harry tomorrow at the Nou Camp could really favour his chances.

        So in summary, Kane is my most likely winner at this stage, but I wouldn’t touch a price well below 2/1, for the caveats mentioned. Hoping that Ronnie makes the shortlist, because I think he’d have the potential to run Kane very close on the night.

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