SPOTY night is tomorrow – 6.45pm on BBC1. The shortlist was announced on Monday morning: Emma Raducanu, Tom Daley, Tyson Fury, Adam Peaty, Raheem Sterling and Sarah Storey. Recent Olympic years have seen an extended shortlist but the organisers now seem to be sticking rigidly to the quota of six there has been since 2018.
Mark Cavendish fans are probably the most disappointed to be missing out, with Jason and Laura Kenny other high profile names not to make the cut. It would also have been interesting to see what price Lewis Hamilton would have been trading at if he had won in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
It’s been an incredible year of ups and downs in the SPOTY markets, mainly courtesy of the Euros, the Olympics, the Tour De France and the F1 championship. The following minimum prices traded on Betfair give an idea of the roller coaster ride: Laura Kenny 2, Jason Kenny 2.04, Daley 2.2, Harry Kane 3, Sterling 3, Jordan Pickford 3, Lewis Hamilton 3.15, Cavendish 3.2, Marcus Rashford 5.3, Joe Root 6, Dina Asher-Smith 6, Anthony Joshua 6.6, Peaty 7, Fury 7.2.
One event though stands out above all others. Emma Raducanu’s US Open win in September was a sensation. The then 18-year-old became the first player to win a grand slam as a qualifier and also the first to win a grand slam at only the second attempt (having made the 4th round at Wimbledon before retiring with breathing difficulties). She only made her senior WTA debut in June.
At Flushing Meadows she powered through 10 matches (including 3 in qualifying) without dropping a set. She was around 250/1 pre-tournament with bookies and on Betfair one punter got £3.74 on at 500. She didn’t even get added to the Betfair SPOTY market until the end of the first week in New York.
The British public quickly became infatuated with the new superstar. She is now one of the most marketable sportspeople in the world, signing lucrative deals with Dior, Evian and Tiffany.
Tennis-wise Raducanu has done very little since the US Open but no-one will care about that. A SPOTY victory seems assured and would break the streak of an Olympian winning in every Olympic year since 2000 – she is 1.06 to win.
In terms of the 2021 selections on this site, it’s been a case of poor timing. Firstly in not selecting Daley speculatively when he was available at big prices and secondly in not pressing the button on here when Raducanu was scything through the US Open. A first annual loss is now the likely outcome but that’s betting and it’s been a good run.
On looking at the current market for value, it’s not as appealing as it has been in previous editions. The current prices in the ‘without Raducanu’ market are: Daley 2/5, Fury 4/1, Peaty 8/1, Sterling 25/1 and Storey 40/1. Top 3 are: Daley 1/8, Fury 8/11, Peaty 11/8, Sterling 7/1 and Storey 10/1. Some bigger prices may be available on Betfair.
The buzz around Daley’s sporting achievement has been fairly muted recently – probably to do with his gold medal being with the help of his synchronised diving partner Matty Lee and diving not being the most mainstream of sports. However, on the night, the human interest element in his section of the show has the potential to act as a catalyst for votes.
In more normal circumstances, with Fury not boycotting the show, and instead being interviewed like the other nominees, it looks like he’d have a great chance to go at least one better than his close up 4th place in 2015. He remains a popular character in general, with his win against Deontay Wilder in their third bout still fairly fresh in the memory.
However, the concern is how his segment will come across in the show. Last year, when Fury was also absent, the BBC put him on first in the order which helped to minimise his vote. This year though he arguably has less strong opposition overall, with no sign of any campaign contenders like Jordan Henderson and Hollie Doyle.
Peaty is a swimming phenomenon. He has a best placed finish in SPOTY of 5th in 2017 but there is a feeling this year he has cut through to the public a lot more. He appeared in this autumn’s Strictly which may help provide a small amount of extra recognition among the public.
Storey is an exceptional Paralympian but has struggled historically to make much of an impression when previously nominated. It is a similar story for Sterling too and without any sign of a Manchester City fan campaign behind him it may be that the top 3 is beyond him again.
While Daley does seem most likely to be second to Raducanu, the odds are now quite tight. Fury is the wildcard and, in the hope he gets a fair edit in the show, it looks worth some small bets to include him.
* 0.75pt Fury ‘without Raducanu’ 4/1 general
* 0.5pts Raducanu-Fury-Peaty tricast 28/1 Skybet
* 0.25pts Raducanu-Peaty-Fury tricast 33/1 Skybet
Good luck with your bets on the night and I hope followers have managed to negotiate the year without too much damage. It will be interesting to see the show and how the markets react in-running.