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SPotY-watch

I posted a blog last week examining the odds on offer on the website of a well-known bookmaker for the winner of BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPotY) .

I still can’t decide who to put my money on, but here are the odds that are currently available:

Jenson Button, 7/4 joint favourite (previously 9/4 favourite)
Jessica Ennis, 7/4 joint favourite (previously 5/2)
Andrew Flintoff 6/1
Andrew Strauss 8/1
Andy Murray 14/1 (previously 4/1)
Stuart Broad 16/1
Phillips Idowu 25/1
Tom Daley 33/1
Amir Khan, 50/1
David Haye, 50/1
Lewis Hamilton, 50/1
Mark Cavendish, 50/1

So, what’s changed?

Moving up:

Jenson Button’s odds have shortened over the past week, despite not having raced since his first lap retirement in Belgium. Sunday’s Italian GP at Monza will give us a clearer indication of his prospects for the F1 drivers’ title; he currently leads by 16 points with five races remaining. If he wins the championship, he should be a lock to finish in the top two for SPotY; if his current decline in form proves terminal, he has no chance of winning the award.

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis joins Button as the 7/4 joint favourite. By winning world championship gold, she has already done all she can to influence the voters. It will be interesting to see how strongly the BBC PR machine promotes her cause, with the feel-good story of her recovery from serious injury; it could play a vital role in the outcome of the public vote.

At this moment, my money’s on Ennis to win, regardless of what Button does.

Moving down:

Andy Murray is the big loser over the past week, slipping from 4/1 to 14/1 after his straight sets exit to Marin Cilic in the fourth round of the US Open, the last of 2009’s four Grand Slam tournaments. Moreover, he appears to be carrying a wrist injury which may hinder the end to his season, which means he is unlikely to maintain his number two ranking through to the end of the year. 14/1 looks like remarkably stingy odds to me; Murray’s chance of winning SPotY is now realistically gone.

No change:

That would be everyone else, basically.

Like Ennis, Phillips Idowu (25/1) and Tom Daley’s (33/1) work for the year – at least as far as the public vote is concerned – is done and dusted; neither will get anywhere near the top three anyway.

Amir Khan is yet to defend the WBA light-welterweight title he won from Andreas Kotelnik in July; it is unlikely he will fight again before SPotY takes place. David Haye’s first fight of 2009 will take place on November 7th, when he takes on Nikolai Valuev for the WBA heavyweight title. Both remain 50/1; neither is worth even an each-way bet.

Lewis Hamilton (also 50/1) sits seventh in the F1 standings, with a single win in a season in which the defending champion has been badly let down by his team. He will do well to finish any higher than seventh in the SPotY vote; don’t waste your money.

As far as English cricket’s three representatives are concerned, both Andrew Flintoff (6/1) and Stuart Broad (16/1) are injured and currently absent from the one-day series against Australia. Captain Andrew Strauss (8/1) is still in good form personally, having scored 122 at an average of 41 so far, but his team trail 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and are looking increasingly abject with every match. Flintoff has an outside chance of walking (make that hobbling) away with the SPotY award, buoyed by a wave of sentimentality; Strauss and Broad will almost certainly have the consolation of being part of the Team of the Year.

That leaves only Mark Cavendish (50/1), who celebrated his 50th career win – and his 22nd this year alone – on Monday at the Tour of Missouri, and promptly followed that up with number 51 the following day. Ultimately it will make no difference, as most of the sporting public have little awareness of the Tour de France, let alone a minor late-season stage race in the US. I’ve said elsewhere that I believe that Cavendish deserves to win SPotY on merit, but that’s not how it works in reality. Cav has as much chance of winning SPotY as anyone not named Usain Bolt has of winning the Overseas SPotY award.

Regardless, with Murray’s defeat at the US Open, it looks like the field of genuine contenders has now been reduced from four to three (Button, Ennis, Flintoff). Short of a dramatic scandal, I can’t see things changing significantly until the fate of the F1 title becomes clearer, but I’ll check back in a month or so. You never know, I may have decided who to put my money on by then.

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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