The shortlist of Beth Mead, Ben Stokes, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Eve Muirhead, Jake Wightman and Jessica Gadirova was announced this morning.
The Lionesses’ historic Euro 2022 victory in July effectively shut down this years’s SPOTY market. Beth Mead won the golden boot and player of the tournament to go odds-on. She subsequently finished second in the prestigious Ballon D’Or Feminin ceremony. Bar a brief period when the men’s team were going well at the World Cup – Harry Kane traded as short as 5.0 on Betfair, probably during his run-up to take his second penalty against France – no-one has been able to lay down any sort of challenge. Mead now trades at 1.1 having recently been as short as 1.03 .
A major football tournament victory on home soil has been the sporting story of the year, tapping into the zeitgeist of women’s representation in sport and the media. The team and manager Sarina Wiegman have been widely celebrated and their popularity has been reflected in veteran midfielder Jill Scott winning I’m A Celebrity. Recent increases in girl football participation numbers look set to continue.
The Lionesses have already won various team of the year awards (e.g. BT Sport, Sunday Times, Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA)) and look sure to land the SPOTY equivalent.
Is there any chance of Mead being beaten for the main award? It seems unlikely with the whole narrative of the show around the Lionesses, with the continued failure of the men’s team to win a major trophy providing further recent contrast. Is she a value price? Probably not.
While Mead won the individual women’s SJA award earlier this month there have been some other awards (BT Sport, Sunday Times) that have not gone her way, instead going to Eilish McColgan who won Commonwealth gold in the 10,000m in Birmingham. The public may be more inclined to vote for Mead though compared to these more industry focused awards.
She is also up against a sporting hero in Ben Stokes (12/1). The 2019 SPOTY winner has had another momentous year. Following his revealing Phoenix from the Ashes film released in August, he played a match winning innings in the T20 final against Pakistan in October. He’s also – as captain alongside coach Brendon McCullum – transformed the mentality of the Test side who are now playing some of the most daring cricket (“Baz Ball”) ever played in the long form of the game, going for the win at every opportunity. They have won nine tests out of ten since taking over, including an historic clean sweep in Pakistan secured earlier today.
In the immediate name-recognition stakes versus Mead, Stokes holds the advantage. The former though may have the run of the show which will be Lioness focused and her achievement is arguably more of a novelty. At the prices though it is probably worth a fun bet on Stokes to see what happens. He is doing pretty well on various social media stats.
In terms of selections this year this site only had Adam Peaty each way at 100/1 which was not to be so it has been a quiet year.
In a change to recent years the World Sports Star award has been decided by the panel meaning there was no market on it. This may have been due to the practicalities of having to wait for the World Cup to conclude so hopefully there is a chance the public vote could return next year. Lionel Messi (naturally) has already been announced as the winner.
Bookmakers have now added ‘without Mead’ and top 3 markets. Stokes is 2/5 ‘without Mead’ and it does seem like the top 2 in the market will be well ahead of the rest. The prices for the others to be top 3 are O’Sullivan 4/6, Muirhead 2/1, Wightman 9/1 and Gadirova 12/1. This looks the right order.
Finally here’s the usual look at some of the shortest prices traded on Betfair this year: O’Sullivan 3.0, Kane 5.0, Tyson Fury 5.9, Wightman 6, Rory McIlroy 6.4, Cameron Norrie 8.0, Matt Fitzpatrick 8.8, Leah Williamson 10.5, Mark Cavendish 14.
* 1 point win Stokes 12/1 (Bet 365, Ladbrokes/ Coral)