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SPOTY 2022 preview

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)

state of play

Leaving the footballers to one side for a second, could we be in for a 2017 type close finish this year?

Ronnie O’Sullivan heads the market at 3/1 after equaling Stephen Hendry’s seven world championships in May. This is a significant record for a popular character but enthusiasm for a SPOTY win is tempered by him not making the podium in 2020 after receiving a nomination for the first time. He was up against SPOTY heavyweight Lewis Hamilton and two campaign contenders in Jordan Henderson and Hollie Doyle in that year though. He also has opportunities for further tournament wins this year, of which the UK Championship in November is the most significant. Overall, the impression is that he doesn’t set the highest bar.

Jake Wightman (8/1) was not even listed in SPOTY books before his shock win at the 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon where he beat the Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, He is an interesting contender this year, assisted by the popular side-story of his dad calling him home as the stadium announcer:

It can be difficult for world athletics champions to win SPOTY – for example, Dina Asher-Smith came third and Katarina Johnson-Thompson didn’t make the podium in 2019 and Jessica Ennis-Hill was third in 2015 . This year is unusual though in that there are three major championships, with Wightman having the chance to further his medal haul at the Commonwealth Games (in Birmingham, where he will represent Scotland) and the European Championships.

A mention should also be given to rising star Keely Hogkinson (33/1) who landed a valiant silver in the 800m, narrowly beaten by American Athing Mu. She will find things much easier for the remainder of the summer.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (20/1) won the US Open but golfers who win one of the US majors (as opposed to the Open) have struggled to poll highly; as have English cricketers who have had excellent seasons, which makes it tricky for Joe Root (33/1) and Jonny Bairstow (25/1). A T20 World Cup win in November would be of assistance to the latter.

Tyson Fury (12/1) would likely again rule himself out of actively participating in any show and has polled poorly recently. While he has said he has retired, it seems he could easily schedule a new fight at any time – a big fight win later in the year would make things a bit more interesting. Given recent history, there must be some doubt he would make any shortlist as things stand.

There is one current event that could become a sporting highlight this year in England and that is if the Lionesses win the Euros at home They have reached the semi finals and are 13/8 to win the tournament. Nine million watched the quarter-final victory over Spain.

As ever with team sports, if England were to win, it is difficult to predict who the stand out performer would be, and much may depend on the final itself. Beth Mead (8/1) leads the way at the moment as the clear top scorer in the tournament so far with 5. If she did win the golden boot, alongside an England triumph, she could become a short-priced SPOTY favourite.

Ellen White (33/1) is one goal behind Wayne Rooney’s England record of 53. She has two so far in this tournament. The difficulty for her is that she has been somewhat outshone by substitute Alessia Russo (not seen a price listed) and there must be doubt about her starting place.

Earlier in the year I’d been keen on an each way bet at around 50/1 on Adam Peaty given the three big swimming championships this year. He then broke his foot in training ruling him out of the worlds. He has now fought back to fitness, declaring himself ready for the Commonwealth Games, and is in the squad for the European Aquatics Championships in Rome that follow. There is some doubt as to whether he has had enough time to be at his very best but he has a chance of four golds (50m, 100m breaststroke, 100m medley and mixed) in Birmingham which he is calling his home Games (not far from Uttoxeter where he grew up).

In Rome Peaty is scheduled to clash with Nicolo Martinenghi, who took his 100m world title in his absence, so has the chance of some redemption, as well as further golds in his other events.

While these two championships are not the most illustrious in the sport, Peaty’s profile has increased in the last year, and given the potential that the footballers may not triumph, he could poll fairly well against some of his competitors if he makes the shortlist. At 100/1 (80/1 general) he is worth a small each way bet, mainly in the hope of sneaking a place.

There is always scope for further contenders to emerge unexpectedly at a late stage – notable examples from other years include Jordan Henderson, Hollie Doyle, Jonathan Rea, Jonnie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and of course Emma Raducanu. The World Cup could be a game-changer but it does look optimistic to think England (or Wales) could win in Qatar.

In terms of scheduling, the World Cup final is on Sunday 18 December, the same day that SPOTY would typically be. In order to avoid a clash, there is talk that SPOTY will be pushed back slightly to be held mid-week once the tournament was over.

* Adam Peaty 0.5 pts each way 100/1 (Coral / Ladbrokes, 80/1 Bet 365, Paddy Power)

SPOTY 2021 preview

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.

Olympics Debrief

Once again the Olympics delivered. Despite all the challenges it provided its usual mix of outstanding performances, high drama and captivating stories. Team GB’s success, escalating as the Games went on, across a range of sports, added to the appeal for UK viewers. They finished 4th in the medal table, below their 2nd place in Rio but equal on 65 medals with London.

There was uncertainty about how Tokyo 2020 would come across without paying fans but there seemed to be enough spectators (athletes, staff and officials etc) at most events to create a decent enough atmosphere.

There were 22 Team GB golds but three in particular had the SPOTY markets scrambled. Breakfast time on the first Monday and Tom Daley finally wins a first gold at his 4th Olympics in the synchronised diving with Matty Lee – his price tumbling from 80/1 into around 4/1 (available at 160 and bigger on Betfair a couple of days before the opening ceremony).

After Dina Asher-Smith failed to qualify for the 100m final and withdrew from the 200m, Daley became the new SPOTY favourite.

The market settled down until Laura Kenny won gold with Katie Archibald in a dominant display in the madison on Friday. This, along with an earlier silver in the team pursuit, made Laura the most successful female Olympian (5 golds and 1 silver) and the first to win a gold at three successive Games. She traded as short as evens for a moment on Betfair and Daley was briefly forgotten.

Daley shored up his position by winning bronze in the individual event on Saturday morning. At this point Jason Kenny had drifted out to 100+ on Betfair. He had not been showing his usual big meeting form – he said he was ‘rubbish’ during the team sprint (where he won silver) and ‘struggling’ in the individual sprint (eliminated in the quarter-finals).

Suddenly, surprisingly Kenny then burst into life in the keirin final in the small hours of Sunday morning launching off the front to shock everyone. His gold was his 7th in total going clear of Sir Chris Hoy as Britain’s most successful Olympian of all-time. He became the new SPOTY favourite, also trading around evens on Betfair before settling around the 9/4 mark with the bookies.

The current market looks like this: J Kenny 9/4, Daley 9/4, Peaty 10/1, L Kenny 12/1, Lewis Hamilton 16/1, Mark Cavendish 16/1, Max Whitlock 20/1, Lauren Price 25/1.

The Kennys have made history and the titles of being the most successful male and female Olympians give them a certain gravitas. Jason’s overall record eclipses Laura’s so it seems right that he is shorter in the odds.

There are some warning signs around the likelihood of Jason winning SPOTY though. It has to be noted that in 2016 he won 3 golds, the most by a GB athlete in Rio, yet finished only 10th in SPOTY (Laura was 8th). He’s someone who generally doesn’t seek the limelight and is potentially up against not only Laura but also Cavendish who could still yet prove to be a bigger draw for cycling fans.

Could it be that the market is also overplaying the appeal of the historical feat to voters. After all in 2016 Jason had gone level with Hoy at the top of the all-time list. And Hoy himself in 2012 went clear at the top with his 6 golds in total yet only finished 7th that year (although he had already won it in 2008).

At this stage my feeling is the value lies in Daley. He has a long history with SPOTY being the only person to win Young SPOTY three times (voted for by a panel, rather than the public) in 2007, 2009 and 2010 (when he also finished 6th for the main award with 50k votes).

He has a huge following (2.3m Twitter followers), with a life story that is inspiring to many. The social media hits on his Olympics performances exceed his main SPOTY rivals and he was clear leader in a BBC poll of people’s favourite Tokyo 2020 gold.

His bronze medal in the individual event should secure him a place on the shortlist. Finally winning Olympic gold after all these years provides some of that novelty value that is key in SPOTY winners – he offers something different to his competitors that in some ways are hard to separate from each other. I’d expect a strong VT on the night, some knitting chat, and a desire among the BBC audience to vote for him.

In terms of the rest of the year we have the Paralympics to come which can always provide a good story or two. The world track cycling championships will also take place in October where it may be worth keeping an eye on the Kennys. There is the Ryder Cup too. Hamilton can never be entirely discounted if we wins a record 8th F1 title. But overall there may not be too much opportunity left for others to get involved.

* 3 pts win Tom Daley 9/4 Sky Bet, Betfred, Boyles, 5/2 Bet 365, 11/4 Coral / Ladbrokes

It will be interesting to see how long the shortlist will be this year. In 2016 it was 16 and 2012 it was 12. There is always the possibility of a big priced contender coming with a late charge.

I’d be interested to know if people think I’m being too positive on Daley’s chances as I know some are concerned he may not appeal to a typical SPOTY voter, please feel free to add a comment.

history in the making?

Up until a couple of weeks ago this had been the quietest of starts to a SPOTY year. England’s run to the Euros final and Mark Cavendish’s renaissance in the Tour de France have changed that.

Harry Kane (7/2) and Raheem Sterling (5/1) have replaced long term favourite Dina Asher-Smith (6/1) at the head of the market. Cavendish is in the slip stream at 8/1.

Since the start of the century British sportsmen and women have conquered many events that had previously seemed out of reach for many years. There has been: a two-time Wimbledon champion, multiple Tour de France titles, England cricket and rugby world cup wins, multiple Ashes victories, as well as Olympic gold rushes.

One prize for many though is valued above them all – a major international football championship. England are now marginal favourites (4/5) to beat Italy on Sunday night to win the Euros.

It would be the sporting highlight of the year leading to a likely domination of the awards on SPOTY night. When England won the rugby and cricket world cups it led to clear cut wins in the main award for Jonny Wilkinson and Ben Stokes.

The tricky part is pinpointing who such an individual would be if England were to win. Kane and Sterling have stolen the headlines throughout the tournament and are the most likely to impress on the night.

Kane is on 4 goals, one behind Ronaldo and Schick, so could finish as top scorer. Due to the tie-break rules he would need a goal and two assists to beat Ronaldo to the golden boot. Sterling is on 3 goals.

Sterling is 7/4 favourite to be voted by a panel as best player of the tournament . Kane is 7/2. It is this difference, plus a sense that there is more of story with Sterling – with him growing up in the shadows of Wembley etc – that makes him the more appealing option at the odds.

A European Championship winner who was player of the tournament would be a big vote winner on SPOTY night. Sterling also won the league with Man City which is a small bonus for him too in any end of year write-up.

It’s hard to be too confident – all sorts of drama could yet unfold – but overall he’s probably the most sensible pick as it stands, with Kane also worth a saver in case he denies Sterling player of the tournament.

But there remains a fair chance that England could fall at the final hurdle. Could Kane or Sterling then still win SPOTY? It would seem much more difficult.

Cavendish would then become a very interesting contender if he can level or beat the Tour de France all time stage win record of 34 held by Belgium legend Eddy Merckx. He’s currently on 33 and should have three more sprinting opportunities during the last 10 days of the Tour (assuming he can get through the tough Pyrenees mountain stages in good form). This is a record that has stood since 1975 and has long been considered near unbeatable.

Stage 13 is currently in progress (Friday afternoon) where it’s looking like a sprint finish sometime between 4 and 5pm – so there could be a real chance to level the record today. If he was to do so, his current SPOTY price would disappear.

There is also the last stage on 18 July, finishing on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, that looks suitable for a win. Cavendish has already won there 4 times and has the services of his Quick Step team’s lead out train who would be looking to deliver him to the line in similar style to his 3rd win in this year’s edition:

The Manx missile is a previous SPOTY winner in 2011 when he won the green jersey in the Tour and the world championship. Cyclists have an exceptional SPOTY record in recent times taking the main award 4 times in the last 13 years.

He remains a very popular character, his late call up and comeback this year adding to the appeal after battling Epstein-Barr virus and depression. He had long been written off by most as never to add to his last Tour stage win in 2016.

The complicating factor to all of this is the Olympics coming up in Tokyo – the opening ceremony is on 23 July. A classic SPOTY stat is that in any Olympic year from 2000 the SPOTY winner has won at least one Olympic gold (Redgrave, Holmes, Hoy, Wiggins, Murray).

Other factors have to be taken into account though in the assessment, including the strength of the opposition. There is also some doubt as to whether these Games will capture the public imagination as much as normal with them being played out without fans.

Asher-Smith would be a worthy contender if she could win gold in one or both of the 100m or 200m. She received a boost with the withdrawal of Sha’Carri Richardson in the 100m but still has tough competition in the form of Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah. In the 200m American Gabby Thomas has been setting very quick times. DAS is 4/1 joint second favourite in it with Sky Bet.

Laura Kenny (20/1) is another obvious candidate. She has a chance of three golds in the velodrome. Such a haul would take her to 7 in her career and top all-time above Hoy on 6 and also her husband Jason (depending on if he can add to his 6 golds). This could be appealing to voters. The question would be who might win in a head-to-head with Cavendish.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson (20/1) in the heptathlon is another to keep an eye on although is coming back from injury.

The Olympics, and potentially Paralympics that follow, can also throw up more left-field contenders. As ever they will be worth carefully monitoring.

Overall, at this stage though, I think it’s worth some small bets on the non-Olympians given the history that could be made over the coming days.

* 0.75 pt win Raheem Sterling 5/1 Bet 365, William Hill (6/1 Betfred)

* 0.75 pt win Harry Kane 7/2 William Hill (4/1 Sky Bet, 888 Sport)

* 1 pt win Mark Cavendish 8/1 Coral / Ladbrokes 7/1 William Hill, Bet 365

SPOTY 2020 review

1 Lewis Hamilton 2 Jordan Henderson 3 Hollie Doyle

While it wasn’t a classic year of sporting action, this year’s SPOTY market was intriguing.

In the week leading up to the show a co-ordinated campaign for Doyle took off – she was backed all the way down from in the 20s to around 3.25 on Betfair by Friday evening. She gradually drifted out to around 4.5 to 5 by Sunday.

Then Sunday afternoon saw the start of the huge gamble on Henderson as #votehendo drowned out #votehollie on social media. Liverpool had won 7 nil the day before, their captain was on the score sheet and the Reds were in buoyant mood. Then just before the show started manager Jurgen Klopp put out a rallying cry through the LFC Twitter account – ‘vote Hendo’.

Henderson had a good segment in the broadcast and the support on twitter and in the markets snowballed.

Henderson’s price crashed from mid to high 20s a few hours before, all the way down to close to evens right alongside long time favourite Hamilton just before voting closed.

It wasn’t to be though with neither gamble successful as Hamilton fended them off. It’s boring, and he is far from universally liked, but in a way he was an impressive winner seeing off these big campaign challengers. In the end it may well have been the broader appeal of his achievements this year with more casual fans that powered him home, compared to his opponents.

Looking back at the Doyle gamble it is clear that the social media campaign was somewhat deceptive as to the likelihood of her hauling in the required votes to win. Her price, like with Rashford’s earlier in the year, fell in direct proportion to the Twitter chatter that peaked around Wednesday to Friday. But this support it turns out didn’t quite translate into enough votes as the bigger names took charge.

In terms of the site, it was a fun ride with the triple H threat of Ham, Hen and Hol all covered at bigger prices. It was only Ronnie O’Sullivan who disappointed of those tipped.

While voting figures are no longer released, my estimate would be that it was fairly close between the first two who were a well clear. Ronnie may not have been that far off the podium. Fury was largely forgotten from his number 1 slot with much made of the potential Anthony Joshua clash to come.

It was good to see Khabib Nurmagomedov collect the World Sport Star award which provided a nice 8/1 bonus for those able to get on.

The overall tally was a profit of 13 points with an ROI of 128% – the full results can be found here.

Happy Christmas all. Look forward to next year and hope the Olympics in particular can go ahead. Olympic years and SPOTY betting – a great combination.

SPOTY 2020 preview

The SPOTY 2020 show is this Sunday evening at 8pm on BBC1. The shortlist of six was announced two weeks ago. As ever most of the social media chat was about who missed out and who’s got or not got a personality etc etc.

Anyway all those on the list seem to have done alright this year so it seems fair enough to me. The key piece of news in the build up to the shortlist being revealed was that Marcus Rashford wouldn’t be included. He will instead be presented with a special award on the night for his work to help children in poverty.

For a long time Rashford was all the rage in the SPOTY markets, backed down to as low as 1.6 to win and lower in the top 3 market. But there was always the likelihood that his sporting achievements during the year wouldn’t be sufficient to make the cut.

Lewis Hamilton is the strong favourite at 2/7 . The good news for followers of the site is that Hamilton was advised in July at 14/1 (12/1 generally available). He equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 F1 titles and went past his grand prix victories tally.

Next is Ronnie O’Sullivan at 13/2 also previously advised, at a lower 5/1, just prior to his world championship win in August. Much of what was discussed previously about Hamilton and O’Sullivan still applies now.

Jordan Henderson (11/1) is a difficult one to gauge. Footballers have struggled to make much of an impression in recent years – Raheem Sterling was out of the top 3 last year and Harry Kane was third in 2018 despite winning the golden boot at the world cup. How well the Liverpool captain polls will depend on how motivated fans are to vote. A first title since 1990 may be enough reason but it’s tricky to tell. Could the news of the passing away of their much-liked manager Gerard Houllier provide an extra push?

Tyson Fury’s (16/1) win over Deontay Wilder in February seems a long time ago. He has also asked to be removed from the shortlist and for his fans not to vote for him. Today on ITV he said his lawyers had written to the BBC insisting he be removed. It seems the BBC are entitled to still run a poll with him in it if they want and have just confirmed he’ll remain in the line-up. He may not be given too much fanfare during the show and plenty made about how next year and a fight with Anthony Joshua is the real test. Fury does have a large passionate fan base though and can’t be ruled out completely. One recent bit of SPOTY form that may be worth noting is that he was beaten to best sporting moment by the England netball team in 2018. When considering boxing’s broad appeal the shock of AJ not making the podium when 1.01 to do so in Mo’s year of 2016 also still lingers.

The main campaign contender at this stage appears the female flat jockey Hollie Doyle (20/1). As is invariably the case with equine sports people they receive strong backing from those in their industry. In a year when voting numbers may be down, a top 3 finish is achievable.

Stuart Broad is the outsider at 200/1. This reflects recent cricket nominations failing to make much of an impression.

Overall it does look as though Hamilton is in a strong position. But it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see him toppled. The make up of the top 3 is a puzzle and not easy to pin down. All in the running have positives. The top three odds for O’Sullivan, Henderson, Doyle and Fury of 3/10, evens, 6/5 and 2/1 respectively reflect this competitiveness.

Given the good position on Hamilton and O’Sullivan it seems sensible to have a small bit of cover on Henderson in particular to win just in case. The campaign for Doyle, and her being the only female, makes a small top 3 bet worth an interest but not with too much confidence. Skybet has some forecast and tricast markets up for those wanting to throw a dart or two.

* 1pt Jordan Henderson 10/1 general

* 0.5pts Hollie Doyle top 3 6/5 Betfair Sportsbook/ Paddy Power

* 0.2pts Henderson-Hamilton-Doyle tricast 28/1 Skybet

The World Sport Star shortlist has also been announced and Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power have a market – details of the contenders can be found in the link. Voting, and likely the market, closes tomorrow (Tuesday 15 December) at midday, with the winner announced before the show. Only one internet vote can be made per person and it’s open to UK residents only. UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov has a huge following. The concern is that the UK-only criteria will be too much of a stumbling block. At the 8/1 available it’s a risk worth taking. LeBron James is the favourite at 11/8 but there may be some doubt about motivation/ ability to vote. Katie Taylor at 11/4 has the potential advantage of a higher proportion of her fans being UK residents and is worth a saver.

* 0.5pts Khabib Nurmagomedov 8/1 Betfair Sportsbook/ Paddy Power

* 0.25pts Katie Taylor 11/4 Betfair Sportsbook/ Paddy Power

I’ll add any further thoughts in the comments between now and Sunday if there are any developments or bits of value of note. Please also feel free to comment on how things may pan out.

The start of this year seemed very different with Dina Asher-Smith and Kane at top of the betting. Here’s a look at some of the lowest prices traded on Betfair in 2020: Rashford 1.6, Fury 1.7, Henderson 6.0, Asher-Smith 9.0, Dettori 12, Kane 12, Johnson-Thompson 18.5.

Let’s see how we go – a Hamilton, O’Sullivan or Henderson win should see a profit. It’s great that we’ve actually got a show to bet on. My guess for fun at the most likely top 3: Hamilton – O’Sullivan – Doyle.

Rocket Ron


An incredible day at the world snooker championships ended yesterday evening with Ronnie O’Sullivan chinning Mark Selby on the line to win their semi final 17-16. He plays Kyren Wilson in the final starting today at 1.30 pm, where he is the 3/10 favourite.

Ronnie was trailing 16-14 but went on to rattle off three frames in a row in swashbuckling style.

He’s now got a great chance to win his sixth world title to go just one behind Stephen Hendry. In terms of career ranking titles he’d go one ahead of the Scot to a record 37.

The Rocket is a hugely popular character amongst snooker fans with his quickfire play and unusual brand of charisma.

He burst on the scene as a teenager in the 90s, instantly becoming a favourite, and to many he’s the greatest snooker player of all time.

But he’s never even made the SPOTY shortlist. Surely this would change with victory on Sunday (assuming SPOTY goes ahead), particularly in a year with limited sporting stories.

There would be strong motivation to vote for Ronnie amongst his army of fans (and potentially multiple times) with an element of wanting to reward him for his achievements in the sport throughout his career.

Followers of the site are already covered on Lewis Hamilton at bigger prices. With the potential for O’Sullivan to out poll him and go favourite, he should also be added to the book. A cheap cover can be made on Wilson to win the title.

* 2.5 pts Ronnie O’Sullivan 5/1 William Hill, Bet 365, Betfred

* 0.75 pts Kyren Wilson to win the world championship 13/5 Paddy Power, Betfred, Betway

Let’s hope SPOTY gets the green light this year. If it doesn’t go ahead all SPOTY stakes should be refunded.

the 2020 market leaders


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.

SPOTY 2019 preview


After last year’s break from the norm when the shortlist was named on SPOTY night, the BBC reverted to its traditional reveal three weeks out from the show. This took me by surprise, as did the inclusion of Raheem Sterling (22/1) and Alun Wyn Jones (22/1), alongside the expected names of Ben Stokes (1/6 fav), Dina Asher-Smith (12/1), Lewis Hamilton (25/1) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (80/1). Details of their achievements this year are on the BBC site. The show is on the evening of Sunday 15 December.

The write-up for Sterling noted that, ‘ is his rise to become an unofficial spokesman for a generation of footballers on race, class, society and the media that has people asking whether Sterling is the most important sportsperson in Britain right now’. This showed that it was the mix of social and sporting achievement that secured his nomination, a combination not normally seen in the shortlist for the main award. When including non-sporting factors though it does complicate the selection process. For example, it could be argued, particularly if the panel was keen to continue to promote female sports, that Lucy Bronze may have deserved a place on the shortlist based on sporting achievement (Champions League winner, Silver Ball in the world cup, 2nd in Ballon D’or).

Of course the key question for betting purposes is how well will Sterling poll. At this stage there doesn’t look to be too much evidence that his important stance against racism will translate into a flood of votes. It may be that support gathers momentum in the days leading up to the show and will be something to keep an eye on.

Alun Wyn Jones was the other surprise and the Welsh vote always has to be respected. There is a long tradition of the Welsh getting behind their heroes – last year Geraint Thomas added to relatively recent SPOTYs Joe Calzaghe and Ryan Giggs. And of a similar profile to Wyn Jones was Leigh Halfpenny, runner-up to Andy Murray in 2013 at a big price. The power of this vote could be underestimated and kick in on the night, although there may be a limit to high it could go – it’s worth bearing in mind that Halfpenny’s 66,000 votes is below average for 2nd place.

Anyway.. Stokes looks nailed on. His two innings six weeks apart this summer to help England win the world cup and keep the Ashes alive at Headlingley will always be remembered. Both were absorbing occasions where the stakes couldn’t have been higher. I’ve not seen sporting drama quite like it.

Unfortunately for bettors it leaves the market somewhat dead compared to other years. Followers of the advice on this site have a minor interest in Stokes at 50/1 pre-world cup final so are positioned for a small profit on the year.

Trying to predict who will finish second and third is something I’m not finding straight-forward and have low confidence in. Asher-Smith with her gold and two silvers at the world championships is ahead of Johnson-Thompson that is for sure. But it is difficult to guess just how much better she will poll compared to last year’s 4th behind Thomas, Hamilton and Harry Kane. Her profile is increasing year on year so she should do fairly well.

While he offers nothing new, and it bores me to say it, with doubts about how all will fare bar Stokes, it may be worth a small bet on Hamilton in the ‘without Stokes’ and top 3 markets. He always has a solid base of support and it may be enough. He also finished 2nd behind Stokes in the Sports Journalism Awards.

The World Sport Star (WSS) and Greatest Sporting Moment (GSM) shortlists have also been announced. There’s is only a small window until 9am Friday 6 December to vote for these (online, one vote per person, from UK only). I was holding out for more bookies to price these up like last year but unfortunately it seems Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power are on their own (these markets should close when the vote closes on the 6th). The fancy prices have gone but the 3/1 for Eliud Kipchoge may still represent some value given the uniqueness of his success in going under 2 hours for the marathon, albeit in contrived circumstances with the assistance of pacemakers.

GSM looks to be between the two cricket contenders. A world cup win for England in a major sport is a rarity so looks very strong. A poll in a tweet from @englandcricket showed 69% choosing the world cup final over 31% for Headingley.

* 0.25 pt win Lewis Hamilton without Stokes 5/1 Bet365 9/2 Ladbrokes / Coral

* 0.5 pt win Lewis Hamilton top 3 11/8 Bet365 6/5 Sky Bet

* 1 pt win Eliud Kipchoge World Sport Star 3/1 Betfair Sportsbook / Paddy Power

* 2.5 pt win Jos Buttler breaks the stumps to seal world cup victory 8/11 Betfair Sportsbook / Paddy Power

I’ll post again if any further markets or value appear between now and the 15th. If you’ve any thoughts, particularly on that battle for 2nd and 3rd, please feel free to comment.