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Sports Personality of the Year Betting: Scoring A Winning Punt

Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY for short) is an annual BBC competition that takes place every December. The award seeks to showcase British sport, promote general health and fitness and honour the year’s most competent athletes. Unlike many award ceremonies, the SPOTY only has a single main award. Each year, the event is held in a different UK city; in 2014, SPOTY will be held in Glasgow. Bookmakers in the UK take bets on the overall winning sports personality and other factors such as their gender, sporting area or top 3 finalists. Let’s take a detailed look at the awards and determine which statistics and strategies we can employ to help predict the winner of this year’s Sports Personality of the Year competition.

What You Need to Know

  1. The BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (or SPOTY as it is commonly referred to in the media) was first held in 1954
  2. The award recognises the sportsperson who has achieved the most over the past year
  3. As well as a main award, there are a number of other categories, including Team of the Year and the Hellen Rollanson Award for displaying courage in sport
  4. Each year, a panel of experts will draw up a shortlist of 12 possible winners. The public are then invited to vote for the winner
  5. This public vote means SPOTY is great for having a bet on. Generally speaking, the favourite almost always wins, though you may not get great odds on them
  6. English athletes have a history of doing best, while personalities competing in horse racing, motor sports and athletics have won the most awards
  7. The final ceremony is open to the public, though tickets are not free. The event is also show live on the BBC

History of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year

The BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (or SPOTY as it is commonly referred to in the media) began life back in 1954 as a means of recognising the one sportsperson who had achieved the most in that year.  From the very beginning, the winner was decided by public vote, with middle-distance runner Christopher Chataway the first recipient of the award.

In 1960, the ceremony was extended to include a Team of the Year Award and an Overseas Personality Award. In the following decades, even more categories were added, including, most recently, Coach of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and the Helen Rollason Award for “outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity”.

One notable year in the event’s history was 2006, the first time the ceremony was held outside of London. The BBC now hold the event across the UK, with Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow and Salford all having played host over recent years.

These days, the BBC SPOTY is watched by a TV audience of millions, plus it’s also very popular with sports betting fans looking to make money by predicting the overall winner. Winners in recent years include sporting legends such as Andy Murray, Sir Chris Hoy, Andrew Flintoff and Jonny Wilkinson, as well as less obvious winners like Ryan Giggs and Zara Phillips.

How the competition works

The BBC SPOTY is decided through a combination of a public vote and a panel of expert judges.

To begin with, a shortlist of potential winners is drawn up by a panel of 12 experts, with these usually including sports journalists, broadcasters and past winners and nominees.

One they have drawn up the shortlist of ten candidates, the BBC releases this and invites the public to vote on who they think will win. However, voting can only take place during the live presentation ceremony, with viewers able to submit their choice either by phone or online. Towards the end of the programme, the votes are counted up and the winner is announced.

Each winner is presented with the main SPOTY trophy, as well as a specially-engraved shield. While they can keep the shield, they are then required to hand over the trophy to the next winner 12 months later.

Watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year

The awards ceremony is open to the public and tickets are sold just like any normal sporting event.

Each year, the BBC will announce when tickets go on sale. They will then be made available through the venue hosting the ceremony. Note that, unlike most other BBC events, SPOTY is not free, though for your money you do get to see some of the best sporting stars of the moment, plus the event also features live music.

List of Sports Personality of the Year Winners Since 2000

Below is a list of all SPOTY winners since 2000, along with their sport and reason for winning (i.e. their main sporting achievement in the winning year).

  • 2013 – Andy Murray, tennis, won Wimbledon
  • 2012 – Bradley Wiggins, cycling, won Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal
  • 2011 – Mark Cavendish, cycling, UCI Road World Championships winner, overall points winner Tour de France
  • 2010 – Tony McCoy, horse racing, won Grand National
  • 2009 – Ryan Giggs, football, 800 caps and 150 goals for Manchester United
  • 2008 – Chris Hoy, cycling, won 3 Olympic gold medals
  • 2007 – Joe Calzaghe, boxing, undefeated in 44 fights
  • 2006 – Zara Phillips, equestrian, won gold at the World Equestrian Games
  • 2005 – Andrew Flintoff, cricket, helped England win The Ashes
  • 2004 – Kelly Homes, middle-distance running, won 2 Olympic gold medals
  • 2003 – Jonny Wilkinson, rugby, helped England win Rugby World Cup
  • 2002 – Paula Radcliffe, marathon running, set world record of 2:17:18 at Chicago Marathon
  • 2001 – David Beckham, football, last-minute World Cup goal sent England through to the quarter-finals
  • 2000 – Steve Redgrave, rowing, won Olympic gold medal (his sixth in consecutive games)

Who Picks The Winners?

The BBC SPOTY event is voted for by the British public and, consequently, it is more like a popularity content than a measure of great sporting achievement. Before the voting begins, the BBC produces a shortlist, decided by a panel of 12 ‘experts’, including past nominees, broadcasters and journalists. A BBC sports personality shortlist of 10 contenders is released in November but voting for the winner only takes place during the live presentation television program, broadcast in the middle of December each year. Viewers can vote by telephone (charged) or online (free). According to the BBC, both telephone and online votes are equally weighted.

Like other competitions that are subject to a public vote, Sports Personality of the Year is reasonably easy to predict based on opinion polls and public interest. Our first tip to help you place a bet on the winner is to check news reports in the run-up to December to see which athletes are getting the most media attention. Online, you can perform a simple search of each nominee and see who gets the most results. You can also search twitter for mentions of each contender. Social media aggregates like are great free tools to help you get a quick overview of public interest. Make sure you narrow your searches down to the UK, though – the voting process is strictly for UK residents only.

Betting on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Without doubt, the BBC SPOTY is great for betting on, not least since it’s usually one of the easiest sporting events to make a correct prediction on. In the run-up to the big night, both high street and online bookmakers will take bets on the competition.

For the best odds, and for the widest selection of betting markets, you should sign up for an online betting account. Check out this great guide to the very best online sports betting accounts on the internet right now and be sure to take advantage of some fantastic introductory offers for new customers, including up to £200 cashback on your first few bets.

Here are just a few of the different bets bookies will take money on in the build-up to the winner being announced:

  • Overall Winner: This is by far the most popular type of bet placed on BBC SPOTY and the easiest to make. All you need to do is back one of the sportsmen or women on the shortlist and if you guess correctly, you will win at the odds you were originally quoted. Note that the odds offered on the different contenders can fluctuate considerably in the run-up to the final announcement, so be sure to pick the right moment and enjoy the best price.
  • Top 3 Finalists: The odds offered on the contenders (and especially those with a genuine chance of winning the competition) are usually very short. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some candidates to be odds-on favourites, meaning you need to risk a lot to win a little. To enjoy better potential returns, consider having a punt on the Top 3. You can either just guess who will finish in the top spots, regardless of the order they finish in, or, for longer odds, try and guess the exact order.
  • Winning Sport: If you want to hedge your bets and so increase your chances of winning, you can also have a bet on which sport the winner competes in. For example, you could put money on the winner being a golfer or an F1 driver, though this type of bet only works if there is more than one shortlisted candidate from a particular sport.

If you are betting on BBC SPOTY, then you should always remember that the award is voted for by the public. This means that the most gifted athlete often gets overlooked in favour of one who has enjoyed more publicity. While some critics argue that this lessens the prestige of the competition, the good news is that it makes picking a winner much easier.

So, to improve your chances of backing a winner be sure to follow the news closely in the run-up to the event and see who is popular with the British public in the winter. Plus, you should also bear in mind:

  • The favourite almost always wins, so consider backing then. Upsets do happen, but they are much less common than in most other sporting events.
  • The vast majority of past winners have been from England, with Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish winners relatively rare.
  • The public seems to like show jumping and horse racing, so look out for likely candidates from these fields.
  • This is just as much a personality contest as it is a reward for sporting excellence. After all, Torvill and Dean won the award, despite the fact that Sebastian Coe had won an Olympic Gold medal in the 1,550 metres the same year, and Princess Anne is another past winner.

Predicting SPOTY Using Social Media And Newspaper Coverage

If you’re happy to leave your punt until the last week, there’s a lot you can learn from a quick social media search. Previous winners of Sports Personality of the Year have been popular and widely discussed in the media. A quick Google search of each nominee will reveal the relevant media buzz. Check which athletes hold favour with the major newspapers (in the UK, these are The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror). The most popular online news sources in Britain are The Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Guardian. Voters for SPOTY need to be from the UK, so filter out any news or social media coverage that originates from other countries. Some sports stars have crossover appeal, such as David Beckham, but non-UK votes will not be counted so ignore these.

At the end of the day, Sports Personality of the Year betting is about more than making a quick buck – it’s about supporting your favourite sportspeople, championing British sport and taking part in a bit of healthy competition with other punters. Watching a show like the BBC’s SPOTY is made a little more exciting when you have a few quid riding on one of the hopefuls. What’s more, you’re also able to call into the show and vote online to help your favourite gain extra votes. With around 1 million votes cast each year, it’s unlikely that you and your friends will make much difference to the national poll, but it doesn’t hurt to try, especially if you’re voting for free online. To play it safe, always make sure you only bet what you can afford to lose.

The 2014 Sports Personality of the Year awards will take place at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on Sunday 14th December in front of 12,000 sports fans. The event will be broadcast live on BBC One at 8pm. Be sure to get your SPOTY betting underway ahead of the live event and stay tuned for the result.

Facts and Records

The competition has a rich and fascinating history, featuring nearly all of the true British sporting greats of the past few decades. Here are just a few standout facts:

  • The event was only held outside of London in 2006. This was the same year that members of the public were first allowed to attend the ceremony.
  • There are actually two trophies. A replica of the original was made in 1981 and sent to India in case Ian Botham, who was playing cricket for England there, was named the winner. In the end, Beefy did win that year’s award.
  • Ian Black holds the record for the youngest winner of the award. He was 17 when he won, in 1958, having just won three medals for swimming at the Commonwealth Games.
  • Just three people have won the award twice. They are: Henry Cooper (1967 and 1970), Nigel Mansell (1986 and 1992) and Damon Hill (1994 and 1996).
  • There was no rugby playing winner of the award until Jonny Wilkinson in 2003.

Further Reading

  • To find out more about the history of the competition, as well as about this year’s ceremony, check out the official BBC website
  • The BBC SPOTY competition is just one sporting event that’s great for betting on. Find out more about how you can make money from betting on sports with the help of these specialist guides
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