Here we are then. Sport is gradually coming back but we don’t know if SPOTY will go ahead this year. Back in May, BBC Sport said it will make a decision later in the summer. As the world comes round to a ‘new normal’, it may be that a SPOTY of some form does go ahead. Who knows when things will be fully like they were before and plenty of sport should hopefully have taken place by December, albeit without this year’s blockbuster events.
For the last few years SPOTY has taken place on the Sunday night after the Strictly final on the Saturday. With the latter now slated for 19 December it could be that any SPOTY is on the 20th. This is all just guess work.
Betting wise, if SPOTY 2020 doesn’t go ahead, all stakes should be refunded by bookies and the exchange markets voided. So we might as well have a look at the odds.
Tyson Fury remains a worthy favourite at 6/4 after he beat Deontay Wilder in February. The Gypsy King has never been more popular. Fury-Wilder III is lined up and there is talk this could land on Saturday 19 December. It’s hard to be confident with boxing scheduling at the best of times but that slot could be a sweet spot for SPOTY voting. The negatives for Fury are that these Wilder fights are nothing new and there is the ultimate showdown with Anthony Joshua due for 2021.
All the talk in the last month has been about Marcus Rashford (5/2, 2/1 general) and his campaign leading to a government u-turn on providing free school meals through the summer. Rashford has a huge following and, if he made the shortlist and the vote was tomorrow, he would likely win by some way. The criteria the panel use to decide who is on the shortlist is supposed to reflect UK sporting achievement, so there is a fair chance others would be ahead of him on this count. Man United have chances to win the FA Cup (9/2) and the Europa League (11/4) though. He has cut through more than any sportsperson this year and you can never rule out a panel wanting to include him. Is there be a fair chance he is acknowledged in the show away from the main award, especially if his club ends up trophy-less?
Jordan Henderson (10/1) is one footballer who should be ahead of Rashford on sporting achievement having captained Liverpool to their first title in 30 years. He’s around 11/4 to win PFA player of the year and also has a chance to win the football writers’ player of the year. But doubts remain in general about how well footballers poll on the night.
The Formula 1 season starts this weekend, with a rejigged schedule. At the moment only 8 races (the minimum number of races required for a season to be considered complete) have been announced, in a condensed run of races ending with the Italian grand prix on 6 September. F1 hopes to schedule more races (15-18 in total) and is confident of ending the season in Abu Dhabi. It currently aims for this to be in December.
Lewis Hamilton is the 4/7 favourite for the title. While it is unclear quite how the F1 season will end up looking, I think the SPOTY stalwart looks the best value (14/1, 12/1 general) at this stage. He has finished second the last two years, having beaten Dina Asher-Smith and Harry Kane, so remains popular. If he won the F1 title this year he would join Michael Schumacher as joint top all-time with seven in total.
A December end to the season could be good timing. Another potential positive for the Mercedes veteran is that he has been in the news speaking out for racial equality, setting up his commission, and that could continue to strike a chord.
Overall, with enough doubts about the rest of the field, and subject to caveats surrounding the unpredictability of the sporting schedule, the health of those involved and whether anyone actually cares about sport anymore, Hamilton’s price looks big enough to be a bet. For those wanting a bit of cover, his main F1 challengers can be backed for the title. The hope is that a Hamilton championship would see his SPOTY odds crash.
Other potential players to keep an eye on this year could be Ronnie O’Sullivan, Frankie Dettori and Chris Froome.
* 1pt Lewis Hamilton 14/1 Sky Bet, 12/1 William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook
* 0.4pts Verstappen 4/1 general; 0.1 pts Bottas 9/1 Bet 365, Paddy Power; 0.1 pts Leclerc Bet 365 9/1, 15/2 Ladbrokes/ Coral; 0.1 pts Vettel Bet 365 18/1, 14/1 general all for the F1 title.
What do you reckon? Please feel free to comment if you’ve any thoughts on the year that may not be.