BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Tips, Odds & Analysis
- Lewis Hamilton to win without Ben Stokes at 5/1 with Bet365
- Lewis Hamilton to win outright at 25/1 with 888Sport
“Is there an alternative to Ben Stokes at 1/6?” asked Gambling.com’s commissioning editor when discussing this preview of BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2019. This imprudent question was a clear reminder of what chronic historical amnesia even seasoned sports betting enthusiasts suffer from when dealing with TV and Novelty Betting.
Let me take you (and him) back just two years to the 2017 SPOTY awards when the outcome was an even bigger penalty-kick. At a top-price of 1/9 with betting sites, boxer Anthony Joshua seemingly already had the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy sat on his mantelpiece and he could send his milkman to collect it on his behalf.
During the year the boxer had added the previously vacant WBA Super Heavyweight belt to his IBF belt by defeating Wladimir Klitschko and the Olympic gold medallist then retained both upon defeating Carlos Takam.
Who could argue with that form especially amongst a field of field of athletes which included a winner at the Taekwondo Championship, a speed skater and an amputee runner.
Yes Chris Froome was in there, but he’d never earned a podium position in his previous invites to the show and 12 months earlier, despite claiming his third Tour de France title and an Olympic medal, he even never got a place amongst the inordinate 16-runner field.
A Knockout Blow For Odds-On Backers
Anyway suffice to say Anthony Joshua failed to justify his 1/9 price-tag as those with a genuine knowledge of sport and even those that had backed the boxer, left it to others to do the phone voting. The 2017 awards ceremony marked one of the most memorable Betfair nights since November 7th 2000 when the exchange enjoyed its first £10 million+ market and within it Al Gore was traded at 1.02 to become the next U.S. President.
Indeed there were tens of thousands of pounds queued and unmatched at 1.01 about Anthony Joshua taking a medal of some colour in the SPOTY place market but where did he finish? Only fourth.
Consequently, when it comes to SPOTY, 6/4 about even the most unlikely event in the world doesn’t look under-priced. This is a ‘shorties’ graveyard, like a lot of events in Specials Betting.
BBC Ever-Changing Criteria
Much of the uncertainty amongst SPOTY betting lay at the door of the BBC who cannot help themselves from tinkering with the awards criteria and changing its rules on a whim. In 2015 the selection committee was forced to reconvene after selecting their original ten strong field when Andy Murray played a part in winning the Davis Cup. He was hastily added to the line-up as was Tyson Fury who beat Vladimir Klitschko at the same weekend.
So ten candidates became 12 in 2015. By 2016 the field size was up to 16 (it included two Paralympians), but was back down to 12 in 2017. And, in sweeping changes last year, the shortlist was back down to just six contestants. Furthermore the traditional revelation of contenders three weeks before the show aired was scrapped and the sports ‘personalities’ were not revealed until the show went out live on air. As is the case with the BBC Strictly Come Dancing, the broadcaster also chose to withhold final voting figures from the public.
Forward-wind to this year and the first surprise came on November 25th (the day after the Davis Cup concluded – go figure) when the BBC unexpectedly reverted to their old scheme of announcing six contestants (yes six, not 10, 12 or 16) which had been selected by their judging panel to be deemed worthy of a SPOTY nomination.
This took many by surprise, as did the inclusion of footballer Raheem Sterling (25/1 with Royal Panda) and Wales rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones (25/1 with Ladbrokes). My only surprise is they did not draft in 10m platform diver Tom Daley once again. I jest!
For me the exclusion of Jonathan Rea is nothing short of criminal. The Northern Irishman is statistically the most successful rider in the history of the Superbike championship. In 2019 he clinched his fifth consecutive world title, an unprecedented fete, and in the 2017 SPOTY he finished second in the competition, touched off by just 3,000 votes.
Will They ‘Vote Stokes’?
So the big questions are, will the people that are placing their hard earned cash on Ben Stokes at 1/6 pick up their telephones and invest some pennies in voting for him? Likewise, will the non-gamblers who believe he will clearly win the award in a rout fail to ‘vote Stokes’ because they believe they will have no need to?
If they fail him, Stokes’ credentials, which include hauling England back into Ashes contention in the third test and playing a starring role in England’s dramatic World Cup final victory over New Zealand at Lord’s, will be worthless.
Of course he is very likely to win, but I believe he is massively under-priced in an event which is littered with beaten odds-on shots. Let’s face some other facts: England actually lost the Ashes (something which is missed on many); Stokes was born and bred in New Zealand (which could cost him a few votes); Cricket is nowhere near as popular as its limited number of fanatical fans would have you believe.
And, most importantly, when it comes to the SPOTY formbook it has to be pointed out only three cricketers have taken a SPOTY medal of any colour during the past 33 years and there has been just one cricketing winner in since Ian Botham in 1981.
Lewis Has Amazing SPOTY Form
Consequently there has to be value in opposing the long odds-on favourite. But who with? Lewis Hamilton (25/1 with 888Sport) took his sixth Formula 1 World Championship title in 2019 which may not be considered outstanding, more so ‘predictable’ at this stage. But the 34-year-old also won the British Grand Prix before 141,000 race day fans. Just consider, if half of those placed a single SPOTY vote he would have this won by a comfortable margin.
Seriously, you cannot underestimate his popularity especially amongst SPOTY voters. Stevenage most famous son finished runner-up in the 2007, 2008 and 2018 renditions of this award and won it in 2014 when he turned over Rory McIlory who was trading at 2/7 on awards night.
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Athletics Is So SPOTY Popular
The remaining two candidates are both female and both from Track & Field. 2019 was a World Athletics. Championships year and it did provide Great Britain and Northern Ireland with two outstanding champions. Katrina Johnson-Thompson (80/1 with Bet365) finally put a host of disappointments behind her to take the Heptathlon title with a national record score and sprinter Dina Asher-Smith (12/1 with Betway) won a 200m gold and two silver medals in the 100m and 100m relay.
You have to consider athletics is the most successful SPOTY genre of all winning the award 15 times and garnering 51 places. The second most successful sport is Formula 1 with seven wins amongst 15 placings. There may be a sense of ‘owing’ Asher-Smith as she finished fourth in 2018 SPOTY a year in which she won three European titles and she is strongly fancied over Johnson-Thompson who is very lacking in media skills.
However, there has to be a real concern amongst their supporters that they will split both the ‘athletics vote’ and ‘female vote’ and so, reluctantly (I do have a spreadsheet full of Asher-Smith bets at huge prices) the duo are passed over.
Lewis Hamilton has an exceptional record in this competition and is overpriced at 5/1 with Bet365 to either win it for a second time or to finish second to the favourite, something he did when runner-up in 2007, 2008 and again last year.
The 2019 Sports Personality of the Year Awards ceremony takes place at Aberdeen’s P&J Live Arena on December 15. It will be broadcast live on the BBC.
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