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Four-way battle in the betting for Sports Personality of the Year

Ronnie O'Sullivan has gone from 16/1 into 7/2 after securing his sixth World Championship title at the weekend
Ronnie O'Sullivan has gone from 16/1 into 7/2 after securing his sixth World Championship title at the weekend

The winner of the 2020 Sports Personality of the year will be announced on the 13th December, but it’s already looking like a competitive betting heat with four names all now at single figure prices at the head of the SPOTY betting market.

The latest market mover came over the course of the weekend with snooker maverick Ronnie O’Sullivan winning the World Championship. The ‘Rocket’ was cut from around the 16/1 mark pre tournament, all the way into 7/2 with most betting firms after claiming the title for a sixth time. 

It’s quite an interesting market this year and I’ve taken a look through some of the potential candidates to try and figure out where this year's award will be heading. Ben Stokes was the winner of last year’s award after two monumental sporting performances in both the cricket World Cup and the Ashes. 

The lack of top-class sport in 2020 due to the coronavirus has also been a major factor when I’ve been assessing this market throughout the year. If the 2020 Olympic games had gone ahead as planned, I would have been very confident that the award would have gone to a member of Team GB. I’m basing this on the fact that in the last five Olympic years, the Sports Personality of the Year award has been awarded to someone who has won gold for Great Britain. However that was not to be due to the untimely outbreak of COVID 19, which now opens the door for others. I’ve had a look into the names at the top of the market and given my thoughts on where I think the award is going this year.

Tyson Fury - 7/4 favourite

Heavyweight Champion of the world Tyson Fury has been favourite for this year’s award ever since he knocked out Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas back in February (yes that was only February). It was a top class moment of sport with the Gypsy King reigning down blows on the Bronze Bomber causing Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel. 

No matter if you love or hate Fury, you cannot deny he is box office to watch. He’s overcome his own personal battles to become the champion of the world and has moved away from the controversial traveller boxer image, to a role model to many around the globe. He’s been odds-on in the betting for several months this year and now is priced at 7/4. 

In my opinion his odds will only continue to drift in the remainder of the year due to a combination of Tyson not having another big fight to contest this calendar year, and also due to the likelihood of Lewis Hamilton winning the F1 world championship. A personal favourite with many it will remain to be seen whether or not someone of Tyson’s heritage can win a BBC award such as this one.

Lewis Hamilton - 10/3

This weekend Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth victory of the Formula One season with a flawless drive from start to finish in the Spanish GP. As a result he extended his lead at the top of the driver standings to 37 points, with his fourth win in the last five races. 

Another who divides opinion at times, Hamilton has actually won SPOTY before, back in 2014. Further to that he also has claimed the runner-up prize on no less than four occasions, more than any other person in the history of the award. This shows that Hamilton tends to go down well with the voters for Sports Personality, and gives me confidence that he will continue to shorten.

This year Lewis has the chance to equal Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record of seven world championship wins. The Mercedes driver is now as short as 1/50 to do so with several bookmakers and if the first six races are anything to go by, he could have it wrapped up with races to spare. He’s also now just three wins behind Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins in the sport, which is another that could topple and swing the pendulum in Hamilton’s favour with at least seven races remaining in this year's campaign.

Ronnie O’Sullivan - 7/2

Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed his sixth Snooker World Championship title on Sunday, defeating Kyren Wilson 18-8 after a memorable semi-final comeback against Mark Selby in a game for the ages. It’s 19 years since The Rocket first claimed his world title and he’s now been playing the game at the highest level for over 25 years.

He’s another who divides opinion, and in this year’s World Championship, it was his comments about the poor standard of young snooker players coming through in the game that made the headlines. 

Staggeringly, O’Sullivan has never even finished inside the top three for Sports Personality of the year and many snooker fans have been vocal on social media around how they think he finally deserves to win the award. In my opinion though this is probably the shortest price that Ronnie will get to in the market. His achievement is most relevant at the moment and the more Hamilton wins in the F1 this season, the more Ronnie’s odds could drift.

Marcus Rashford - 5/1

The Man United forward had previously been as short as 6/4 in this market during the middle of June. At just 22 years of age, this year has Marcus Rashford has set up a charity for the homeless, raised over £20 million for the most vulnerable in society, and managed to get the government to do a u-turn on their decision not to offer free school meal vouchers doing the summer holidays to those less fortunate. 

Quite some achievement for the young man, however my worry with Marcus is that his achievement has not actually been sport based, unlike the other three candidates at the top of the market. 

He’s already received a special recognition award from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester for ‘outstanding activity and contribution to the community’, and it could be one step too far when you look against the sporting greats who are ahead of him in the betting to win Sports Personality.

I’d backed Rashford at 50/1 at the start of June to win this award before his odds plummeted, however I can only see his price inflating from the 5/1 that is currently available on him with most bookmakers.

The Verdict

Over recent weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that Lewis Hamilton now looks the most likely winner of this award. I’m going out on a limb saying he is going to win the World Championship record-equalling seventh time (1/50 to do so). That he will break Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins, and most importantly that the sporting achievement will be the most fresh in the minds of the voters with the F1 season finishing a couple of weeks before the announcement of the award.

Tyson Fury’s performance is still the stand out sporting moment of the year for me so far, although I just don’t think the type of BBC voters here are the kind of people to crown him champion. When it comes to O’Sullivan, I think the decline in snooker’s prominence as one of the big sports over the years has lead to him never even coming in the top-three for the award and I’d be surprised to see him become the first player from the sport to lift the award since Steve Davis in 1988. 

Marcus Rashford’s achievements come off the sporting field and I do not think that is enough to land him the award. Hamilton’s record of being runner up four times and also winning the award in 2014, gives me plenty of confidence that he will claim the prize for a second time in December.

SPOTY selection
Lewis Hamilton
On course for a record equalling seventh world title Has finished runner up four times in this event also winning the award in 2014  The F1 finishing at the end of November means the achievement will be fresh in the minds of the voters Currently three behind and on course to break Michael Schumacher's record of 91 race wins
Odds correct as of 2020-08-19 16:05 Odds subject to change.
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