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shortlist review

shortlist 2017

As ever social media seemed more concerned with who was off the shortlist than who was on it. It wasn’t a surprise that Jermain Defoe was left out – it would have been strange if he won SPOTY for something not based on sporting acheivement and probably would have opened up even more tedious debate. I’m sure his friendship with Bradley Lowery will be recognised on the night.

Twelve were named with probably only six worth serious consideration for the podium. Those are AJ (best price 1/4), Lewis Hamilton (6/1), Chris Froome (16/1), Mo Farah (25/1), Harry Kane (40/1) and Jonathan Rea (40/1) (the others are Adam Peaty, Jonnie Peacock, Anja Shrubsole, Johanna Konta, Bianca Walkden and Elise Christie). I’ve not been able to spot any each way prices, with all bookies going win only (sometimes each way the first two would be offered). A selection of bookies now have markets up for ‘winner without Joshua’ and ‘top 3’ though which is good news. Betfair now has the forecast and tricast markets.

It’s not the most inspiring of SPOTY years as there’s a lack of novelty in the achievements at the top of the market. On this day two years ago Tyson Fury beat Wladamir Klitschko. So AJ hasn’t really broken new ground in that sense. Froome has already won the Tour De France three times before as has Hamilton with the F1 title. Farah won another long distance gold to add to his big collection.

The last three are true sporting giants though and up there with Britain’s finest sportspeople of all time. Froome also won the Vuelta this season becoming only the third cyclist to win the Vuelta and the Tour De France in the same season. Hamilton overtook Jackie Stewart to become the most successful British F1 driver with four titles and broke Michael Shumacher’s career record for pole positions. Farah retired from the track as Britain’s most successful track athlete, winning the 10,000m at the world championships in London.

There is plenty of reason then as to why each could gain support. All three also have bad publicity to overcome though. Froome and Farah in terms of the ongoing drugs allegations in their sports and Hamilton in relation to the recent tax avoidance story. All  have had criticism for not being based in the UK (although Mo has now returned home) and two for not being British at all.

It’s tricky to unravel how this all impacts on how the public will vote. Historically Froome and Farah have notoriously polled poorly, with only Mo reaching the podium with 3rd place back in 2011. Hamilton only managed 5th place back in 2015 but previously upset Rory McIlroy to win SPOTY in 2014.

In AJ’s favour is that his April scrap with Klitschko was absorbing entertainment. The assumption would be that BBC will be allowed some footage of this fight on the night (even though it was on Sky) which should make for a good VT. He’s very marketable and extremely popular, selling out big stadiums minutes after tickets are released. The negatives are that, although he laboured through an easier fight more recently, his Klitschko win seems a long time ago and there is the promise of an even bigger 2018 where he could unify the heavyweight titles.

AJ appears the most likely winner but 1/4 does seem skinny.

Usually the Telegraph website has a poll soon after the shortlist is announced which has historically been fairly accurate. I’ve not seen any sign of it this year. The other polls spotted give a mixed picture. The Sun and the Mirror both show AJ ahead (Sun: AJ 26%, Ham 18%, Farah 16%, Froome 10%, Kane 9%; Mirror: AJ 43%, Ham 19%, Froome 9%, Farah 8%, Kane 8%. (although the phrasing of the latter poll asks ‘who will win’ which may not be as revealing as asking ‘who should win’).

The Radio Times and Eurosport also have votes. The Radio Times one could be a reasonable fit with the BBC SPOTY voter but it’s a bit unclear how many have voted in it. And the Eurosport one could easily be somewhat skewed as it is the channel of choice for cycling fans. Both show Froome clear top of the pile with AJ 2nd just ahead of the rest.

Overall though I have been struck by the general social media support for Froome’s achievements. In previous years this has been missing. He was surprisingly omitted from the shortlist last year and could it be that there’s been a storing up of goodwill towards him that could play out this year. His Vuelta win sets this year apart from his previous years and it is also a weaker edition this time round.

Kane and Rea are the other contenders that are of interest. Vardy and Bale underperformed last year and there are doubts about how well Kane will poll too. Spurs have huge support though and he’ll need careful monitoring.

This year Rea became Superbikes champion for the 3rd time and was also awarded an MBE. He appears to have a very loyal fan base and there was a petition for him to be included on the shortlist. He lives on the Isle of Man and is Northern Irish so he could get significant regional support. 10,000 people signed the petition so the potential for multi phone votes should be respected. If there is a campaign type candidate this year Rea looks the most likely.

Followers of the selections on the site so far this year are essentially on Mo to place at good prices (now a best priced 9/4). As always with Mo and SPOTY he’s been a bit unfortunate – both Hamilton and Froome went on win the F1 title and the Vuelta respectively.

At the current prices it looks worth favouring Froome and Rea over Hamilton, AJ and Kane.

* 0.5pts win Froome 14/1 generally available inc Betfred, Bet Victor, Betway (16/1 with Boylesports)

* 1pt Froome ‘without AJ’ 4/1 Bet 365 (7/2 generally available elsewhere)

* 5pts Froome Top 3 Finish 5/6 William Hill (10/11 with Boylesports)

* 2pts Rea Top 3 Finish 11/4 Ladbrokes, Coral

I’ll keep an eye out for any new markets that appear, including hopefully a Team of the Year one.

If you’ve any thoughts on what looks a bit of a tricky year please do add your comments and any predictions of the 1-2-3.

mid term report

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity in the SPOTY markets, providing some unexpected trading opportunities.

The biggest threat to Anthony Joshua, the long time market leader, came from Johanna Konta. The prospect of a first British Wimbledon winner for 40 years had bookies cutting Konta’s SPOTY price time and again as her run deep into the second week captured the public’s imagination. Konta hit as low as 4.0 on Betfair before she was eventually knocked out in the semis by Venus Williams.

There was another plunge at the same time on Jermain Defoe. The popular striker received praise during his part in helping young Bradley Lowery make the best of his final months before passing away at the start of July. Defoe broke down in a press conference talking about his pal and there has been a wave of goodwill towards him. Social media had plenty of messages saying that JD should win SPOTY.

Defoe and Konta shook AJ out of his long term position around the 1.5 mark, pushing him and nearer and nearer evens. Konta’s exit saw a sharp adjustment in Joshua’s price:

AJ odds

Defoe’s addition to the market is an interesting one. While it is understandable that many want to see him win SPOTY, the recent criteria for making the shortlist appear to suggest that sporting achievement is required first and foremost. Unless Defoe goes on an incredible goal scoring run, it looks tricky for a panel to leave out other arguably more deserving contenders on sporting achievement. There is also the Helen Rollason award (for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity) and there is the possibility it goes to Bradley with Defoe picking it up on his behalf on the night.

Andy Murray’s early exit in the Wimbledon quarters has seen his odds drift to around 200 on Betfair. Some punters may be forgetting though that both Konta and Murray still have the US Open (and prestigious end of year tournaments) to come where a win (Konta is 9/1, Murray 11/2) for either of them would surely see a substantial contraction in price again.

So for the time being it looks like it is wide open for two of the spaces in the top 3. Recent world class performances from Chris Froome, Adam Peaty, Tom Daley, and Anja Shrubsole have generated support. But there are doubts about them all with Froome notoriously appearing to lack the popularity (finished 6th twice) to match his phenomenal results in the Tour De France.

After the British and Irish Lions came away from New Zealand with one and a half tests and an impressive drawn series, I thought leading series points scorer, European player of the year and Six Nations winner Owen Farrell might have a fair chance. But the market has cooled and those mentioned above have leapfrogged.

The World Athletics Championships in London is coming up but genuine GB medal chances are few and far between. Laura Muir, who has been around the top of the SPOTY market since its inception, is 12/1 with Paddy Power to win her strongest event the 1,500m, giving an idea of the challenge ahead.

Whisper it, but maybe the door is ajar for Mo Farah. He’s evens with Paddy Power to complete his usual double and if that was to happen, by default at least, he may be able to poll top 3. How much of a boost he might get for it being his last season on the track and the championships being in London is a matter of speculation. Or perhaps those doping allegations will keep him anchored.

Lewis Hamilton is another not to be discounted in the absence of strong contenders. He was 5th when he last won the F1 title but he has always polled higher than Mo when going head to head and has that superstar factor. He’s evens to win his fouth championship this season.

There’s still a long way to go. Recent years have seen late springers from the pack – last year Alistair Brownlee, 2015 Kevin Sinfield and Tyson Fury, 2013 Leigh Halfpenny – so all of a sudden the picture can change.

AJ is rightly well clear of the field. We’re still waiting for confirmination of the Klitschko rematch. If, as anticipated he retains his titles in Vegas in November, it all looks set for SPOTY the following month. In this game though there’s always the possiblity of things not going to plan and with that come opportunities.

How do you see things so far? Think Defoe could make the shortlist? How’s the rest of the year going to play out? Please feel free to comment if you’ve any thoughts.

AJ’s to lose?

AJ

Each year since this blog started something would have happened by now to have kick-started the SPOTY debate.

In 2014 Steven Gerrard had slipped up at Anfield causing a mass sale of his SPOTY position. It had dipped to 1.74 when it looked likely he would be captaining Liverpool to the Premier League title.

In 2015 Sir AP McCoy had announced his impending retirement at the end of that season and he was booked on the favourite for the Grand National. He hit a low of 3.5.

In 2016 Leicester City were on their way to the title on the back of Jamie Vardy’s goals – he’d traded at around the 3.0 mark.

This year nothing comparable has happened. The middle distance runner Laura Muir has put in some spectacular indoor track performances and Johanna Konta continues her rapid climb up the tennis rankings, winning the Miami Masters 1000 title. But the very top of the market has been left untouched.

That will change tonight when long-time market leader Anthony Joshua fights Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium. The winner will be the IBF, WBA and IBO heavyweight champion.

AJ is a general 7/4 for SPOTY and 4/9 to beat Klitschko. If he wins it looks like he would go well odds-on for the BBC award (I’d guess even as short as around 1/2 in places). He’s box office and media friendly so it’s easy to see why. But he’s tricky to back at such prices, especially such a long way out from home. There’s the possibility of another fight this year and, with AJ himself talking about this as ‘a stepping stone to greatness’ could it be a case of voters waiting to see how his career goes on from here rather than crowning him SPOTY at the first attempt. Talk (however unlikely it is) of a Tyson Fury fight could also delay people wanting to vote for him – there might be a temptation to want to know who is the best.

That said, a win over Klitch would be a worthy and symbolic achievement. The post-fight media coverage would make AJ mainstream news and his wider popularity could soar. Fury provides a comparison. He caused a sensation when beating WK in November 2015, finishing 4th that year. How much missing out on the podium was down to voters not being too impressed with his achievements in SPOTY terms (and AJ would only be doing what Tyson had already done) or the negativity caused by his controversial image is something to ponder. One thing for sure is that AJ comes across as infinitely more marketable.

Of course all this may count for nothing – he’s got to win the fight which is no certainty as it represents by far the biggest test of his career so far.

Unfortunately there’s not too much at this stage that I can see as value alternatives. The next in the market are Andy Murray (generally priced 8/1), Johanna Konta (8/1), Sir Ben Ainslie (8/1), Laura Muir (14/1), Lewis Hamilton (16/1), Mo Farah (25/1), Rory McIlroy (25/1), Chris Froome (33/1) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (33/1).

A Wimbledon win for Murray (he’s 9/4 fav) would naturally see him shorten significantly. But it may be (possibly barring getting a first French Open title) that even he’s run out of new things to do to keep the voter sufficiently engaged to push him to a fourth win in five years.

Konta is interesting but again a grand slam would probably be required (and her record at the French Open and Wimbledon so far is poor). She does though have a shot at being world number one late this year while Serena Williams is off the circuit. I wonder who would get most votes if she and Murray each won a grand slam this year. She’s one to keep an eye on but looks short enough currently.

I wouldn’t be confident in Hamilton even if it was a given that he wins the F1 title as his sport appears less popular than ever and in a state of upheaval.

Froome surprisingly didn’t even make the shortlist last year. That should be rectified this time if he won an incredible fourth Tour De France (he’s a best priced 11/10 to do so). He’s one that might be worth trading on Betfair – perhaps by laying for the TdF market if he was to go short and backing to lay in the SPOTY market. To many he continues to be clouded by his association with Team Sky.

McIlroy would need to win at least one major which is far from easy so can be discounted at this stage. Golf remains a sport that struggles on SPOTY night.

I think Ainslie would be a strong podium contender and even in with a chance of the win if his Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team sailed to Britain’s first ever America’s Cup this June. There would be a key novelty factor to that story and Ben has an excellent image. The problem is there’s a strong favourite to overcome in Oracle Team USA who are 4/5 with Sky Bet, BAR are 11/4. More information on this event can be found here.

Of those at the top of the market, this leaves those competing at the World Athletics Championships in August. In recent years this competition has produced podium finishes for Farah (3rd in 2011, also 4th in 2013 and 7th in 2015), and Jessica Ennis-Hill (3rd in 2015). This perhaps doesn’t appear the strongest pedigree (and there remains concern about track and field’s enduring popularity with the public) but at least there is some form to go on and the fact that London is hosting this year could raise the profile of those competing.

Muir has improved significantly over the last year and is going for the 1,500m and 5,000m double. She’s in with a genuine chance of gold in the former (Paddy Power have an early price of 6/4) but still has to beat Faith Kipyegon, the Kenyan Olympic champion from last year, and the Ethiopian world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba. Do that and she could at least make SPOTY top-3 – another medal in the 5,000m would further enhance her credentials.

With Jess now retired and a new coach, Johnson-Thompson will also fancy her chances of gold in the heptathlon. She also has to reverse the form of the Olympic champion from Rio. And it has to be doubtful that she would be as popular as Jess with the voting public.

As ever Mo should stand out beyond them all in terms of medals where he’d likely be priced up as odds on to complete the 10,000m and 5,000m double. He continues to be dogged by allegations against his coach for using banned substances. He himself seems resigned to not being popular with the public in this competition. And it’s become something of a joke amongst SPOTY betters how Mo nearly always falls short.

But if some of those above him in the market fall way, and he gets a bit of a boost from retiring from the track in London with double gold, there is scope to build on last year’s fourth place. I’m amused at myself for putting up Mo again but at the price I think he’s worth a small play at this stage.

Once the market is shaken up after the fight tonight there may be other opportunities which I will update on if they arise.

Enjoy the fight if tuning in. Do you think AJ would be a shoo-in for SPOTY if he wins?  Please feel to comment below with any thoughts.

* 0.5 pts each way Mo Farah 25/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds first 3) 20/1 Bet 365 (1/4 odds first 3) (33/1 with Boylesports (1/5 odds first 3))

SPOTY 2016 review

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The final voting figures were:

Andy Murray 247,419
Alistair Brownlee 121,665
Nick Skelton 109,197
Mo Farah 54,476
Sophie Christiansen 37,284
Kate Richardson-Walsh 34,604
Max Whitlock 32,858
Laura Kenny 31,781
Jamie Vardy 25,020
Jason Kenny 12,376
Adam Peaty 11,129
Gareth Bale 10,786
Nicola Adams 7,812
Kadeena Cox 5,574
Sarah Storey 3,580
Danny Willett 2,227

Andy Murray maintained the streak of SPOTY going to an Olympic gold medallist every year of the Games since 2000. Each of those winners (Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes, Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins) quickly followed up by being knighted in the New Year Honours list, just as Murray has this time round.

Sir Andy was available at 10/1 available after Novak Djokovic was knocked out of Wimbledon and this formed the bulk of the site’s profit this year (the full betting breakdown can be found here).

It was only after the publicity that Brownlee received in September that Murray was briefly knocked off the top of the market. Gaining and maintaining the world number one spot then sealed the award for SAM.

A campaign once again had a big say in the final positions, with the equestrian and horse racing world pushing Skelton all the way on to the podium. His top 3 priced plunged from around 4/1 when the shortlist was announced to odds-on in the build up to the show.

The footballers, in particular Bale, struggled for support and again Farah missed the podium despite his achievements being arguably superior to anyone. Laura Kenny disappointed her backers. It may be that the British cycling controversies are having an impact here, as well as the possibility of cycling success getting a bit samey for voters.

The Olympics provides so many stories these days for British athletes and 2017 promises to be quieter. But that’s not to say there can’t be a fully competitive SPOTY market. The World Athletics Championships in London looks at this stage like it could be a key event to monitor.  Anthony Joshua, Murray and Ben Ainslie (his Land Rover BAR team are aiming to become the first British winners of the America’s Cup in June) are currently showing as the early favourites with the bookies.

I hope readers had a profitable 2016. I’ll be back on the site once the market warms up over the coming months. Until then – a happy and prosperous New Year to everyone.

SPOTY 2016 show preview

murray-number-one

This time last year Andy Murray was 1.65 favourite on Betfair. He’s even shorter today at 1.19 in his bid to become the first person to win SPOTY in consecutive years and three times in total.

After winning Wimbledon and Olympics gold in the summer and going odds-on, Murray’s price was drifting until he became world number one for the first time during the Paris Masters in November.

The end-of-year number one spot was still on the line though later in the month at the World Tour Finals. His convincing victory over his long-time rival and nemesis Novak Djokovic in the final meant Murray secured the top spot going into 2017. He’s had another phenomenal year with a 78-9 record for the season, winning nine tour titles. He ended it on a 24-match winning streak.

It’s been a pleasure to have followed the whole of Muzza’s career, seeing him fulfil his potential in a golden era despite many setbacks along the way. And now he appears comfortably to be Britain’s favourite sportsperson.

It’s been a spectacular year of British sporting success. The depth of achievement is perhaps best summed up by Jason Kenny – who won three gold medals at the Olympics, and joined Sir Chris Hoy as having the most golds in total of any Briton – being 710 for tonight on Betfair.

He had traded as low as 7.0 during that captivating night in the velodrome when he won the keirin for his third gold. It’s always interesting and often surprising to look back at some of the lowest prices – this year they include: Brownlee 3.05, Farah 3.05, Vardy 3.0, L Kenny 6.0, Willett 6.2, Whitlock 6.4, Skelton 8.6 and Peaty 10.0. That’s not to mention Anthony Joshua and Chris Froome who also traded low at times but didn’t even make the shortlist.

It’s been a classic year of SPOTY trading action and the main hope tonight for followers of the site is for a Murray-Brownlee-Skelton / Trott 1-2-3, along with a women’s hockey or combined Olympic and Paralympic team of the year award. There are quite a few dangers lurking and it’s never straightforward in this game so we shall see. For fun, my guess at the full 1-16 is:

  1. Murray
  2. Brownlee
  3. Skelton
  4. L Kenny
  5. Farah
  6. Whitlock
  7. Vardy
  8. Bale
  9. Richardson-Walsh
  10. J Kenny
  11. Christiansen
  12. Adams
  13. Peaty
  14. Storey
  15. Cox
  16. Willett

Best of luck to everyone tonight with their bets.

 

longlist review

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Just the 16 SPOTY nominees were announced by the BBC yesterday. It has been a spectacular year for British sport so I can see why they thought it would be nice to give wider recognition. But for betting purposes it seems safe to put a line through 7 of them.

The top 9 in the market are: Andy Murray (best price 1/6), Alistair Brownlee (10/1), Mo Farah (20/1), Laura Kenny (25/1), Gareth Bale (45/1), Nick Skelton (100/1), Jamie Vardy (100/1), Jason Kenny (100/1), Max Whitlock (100/1).

Murray has for the second year in a row produced just when it mattered. A win in London over his nemesis Novak Djokovic – to keep his newly acquired number one ranking into 2017 – was just what the doctor ordered for those who had backed him throughout the year. It would be a shock if he’s beaten from here.

Punters are now looking at the side markets. At present there is the without-Murray market and the top 3 market. Hopefully some forecast and match bet markets will emerge too.

Vardy was somewhat of a surprise on the list. It’s tricky to know quite how well footballers will poll but if Leicester City fans get behind him he could do reasonably well. It’s a similar story with Bale and Wales. There are some doubts though.

It’s interesting to note with Bale that he only finished 8th in 2014 (when he scored in and won the Champions League final). Admittedly this year he does have the important Welsh factor in their Euro semi-final run to go alongside his triumph with Real Madrid. But with so much other individual sporting success it could be that even a huge name such as Bale gets outvoted by a few.

Brownlee remains the one to me who looks more than likely to finish best of the rest. I think much of what I wrote here still applies (just that Murray has since added that key novelty ingredient in becoming world number one for the first time). He appears to have plenty of support on social media and is scoring well on the (what has proven in the past to be fairly reliable) Telegraph poll (it’s close between him and Farah on the Guardian one). He’ll also have Yorkshire on his side which did Kevin Sinfield no harm at all last year.

Followers of the site are already on but it’s worth a top up at the evens currently available.

* 4 pts Alistair Brownlee without Andy Murray evens Paddy Power, Coral

The full selections throughout the year can be found here. A Murray Brownlee 1-2 would do nicely and there’s always the smaller chance of one of Laura Kenny, Skelton, Whitlock or Vardy getting involved too. Of course Farah and Bale could always upset the apple cart.

We also have the team of the year award which is decided by the SPOTY panel. Those hoping to garner clues from the shortlist as to where this award might be going weren’t given much to go on as both Leicester (the current 2/9 favourites) and the women’s hockey team (9/1) were represented. There still remains the hope that the panel decide to give it jointly to Team GB and Paralympics GB.

The market looks fairly settled now but it can still move quite a bit in the build up to the big night. I’ll be back here with a preview in 19 days but will update if there’s anything of interest in the meantime. Any comments at all, please feel free to add them below.

 

team of the year – can the Olympians outfox Leicester City?

th8dis5mtw

 

 

 

 

No-one will ever forget Leicester winning the Premier League this year. But how will that achievement be rewarded by the SPOTY panel?

LCFC are best-priced 1/5 to win team of the year. Since spring it’s seemed like there’s been no other option. @drRoss76 and @dizzyJB on Twitter though have been suggesting for a while now that the success of the Olympic teams may mean it’s not quite as straightforward as the odds suggest.

Every Olympic year since 1984 an Olympic team in one form or another has picked up the award. This year Team GB and the Paralympics GB had well publicised success in the Games, both finishing 2nd in the medal tables. They’ll be a parade to celebrate their achievements in Manchester on Monday 17 October.

It seems more than likely an Olympian will win the main award (Anthony Joshua is the shortest priced alternative at 11/1). But after such a great year it’s easy to imagine the panel wanting to give further recognition, particularly to the Paralympians and the popular women’s hockey team.

To suit as many people as possible one way it could play out is to give the Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri the coach of the year award. This would then free up the team of the year award to say Team GB and Paralympics GB combined or just the women’s hockey team.

One thing to look out for when the individual shortlist is announced is the inclusion or not of a hockey player. The captain Kate Richardson-Walsh would probably be the most likely. If there is no representation then that could maybe signal team of the year being used for Rio recognition (or maybe coach of the year).

Ladbrokes offer 7/2 on any British Olympic or Paralympic Team.

Another tempting price is Coral’s 16/1 on ParalympicsGB – this is in the hope that it would pay out as a dead heat if it they were a joint winner with Team GB. Also with Coral is 10/1 for the women’s hockey team.

* 2pts any British Olympic or Paralympic Team 7/2 Ladbrokes

* 1pt British Olympics women’s hockey team 10/1 Coral

* 1pt ParalympicsGB 16/1 Coral