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Rea Of Hope

Dec 14, 2017 by

Rea Of Hope

Anthony Joshua has dominated the SPOTY 2017 market since defeating Wladimir Klitschko in their epic Wembley Stadium scrap back in April. Joshua went on to successfully defend his IBF and WBA titles against Carlos Takam at the end of October.

These fights are tucked away on Sky Box Office and there is a slight question mark regarding Joshua’s voting reach but his management team has done a good job getting him in the public eye this year with tv appearances on the likes of BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show and ITV’s ‘Bear’s Mission with Anthony Joshua’.

It feels like the ‘most deserving’ vote is likely to gravitate towards Joshua on the night. Boxing has yielded 5 SPOTY winners over the years, the most recent of which was Joe Calzaghe back in 2007.

Joshua’s management team has done a good job getting him in the public eye this year

Lewis Hamilton won his 4th world F1 title this year, making him the most successful British Formula 1 driver ever. He won SPOTY 2014, famously defeating the long odds-on shot Rory McIlroy on the night. F1 has yielded 7 SPOTY winners over the years and there is clearly a robust, core ‘petrol head’ demographic of voter.

Hamilton earned over 200k votes in 2014 but it is hard to imagine him reaching the same sort of total this year. One issue for Monte Carlo resident Hamilton was his implication in the tax avoidance story that broke last month and he may struggle to earn the support of the casual voter on the night, especially since The Guardian reported last week that he, along with Froome and Farah, will likely not be in attendance at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Sunday night and will instead be on holiday in the USA.

Chris Froome won his 4th Tour de France title in the last five years back in the summer and also became the first Brit to win the Vuelta a Espana – only the third cyclist in history to do the Tour-Vuelta double in the same year.

The trouble for Froome is, news broke yesterday that he failed a drugs test during La Vuelta, he may be stripped of his title and faces a significant ban. While he is proclaiming his innocence, mud sticks, drug allegations have long circled the sport, and there was also a drug probe into Team Sky earlier in the year. Froome has under-performed in SPOTY polling for a number of years now and it looks like the same will happen again on Sunday night.

The trouble for Froome is, news broke yesterday that he failed a drugs test during La Vuelta, he may be stripped of his title and faces a significant ban

Mo Farah took his third consecutive world 10,000 metres gold in London in August, an event covered by the BBC, but only took silver in the 5,000 metres to end his stellar track athletics career. He also received a knighthood last month but much like Froome, Farah has under-performed in past SPOTYs, partly due to drug allegations that surrounded his former coach Alberto Salazar and, like Froome, being non-British born.

The two of most interest from a top 3 perspective this year look to be Jonathan Rea and Harry Kane.

There was a big hoo-ha last year when no sportsperson from Northern Ireland made the SPOTY 2016 shortlist. Over 10,000 people signed a petition to get Rea short-listed this year after he clinched his third successive World Superbike title, the first ever rider to do so. Rea also picked up an MBE at Buckingham Palace last month. The Northern Irish sports fans are patriotic and a sense of injustice could make Rea this year’s most lively campaign candidate.

Over 10,000 people signed a petition to get Rea short-listed this year after he clinched his third successive World Superbike title

In 2015, a powerful campaign for rugby league star Kevin Sinfield saw him finish 2nd amassing a staggering 278k votes, and only Andy Murray was able to hold him off. Rea doesn’t have the advantage of leveraging the kind of club support Sinfield was able to enjoy among Leeds Rhinos fans but his status in the UK Superbike world, along with a core Northern Ireland vote, could easily see him amass a big enough vote to make this year’s podium.

The sport is covered live by Eurosport and highlights are shown on ITV4 with viewing figures averaging 155k and peaking at around 200k.

Kane’s top 3 chance comes down to the depth and strength of Tottenham fans’ loyalty in being motivated to vote for their star striker. Last year, both Gareth Bale and Jamie Vardy under-performed in the SPOTY vote but Bale didn’t have a UK club to push his votes total up. Also, a slight vote dampener for Vardy was that Leicester’s success was much more about the previous season when they shocked the footballing world by winning the Premiership.

Tottenham’s move to playing home games at Wembley Stadium has significantly increased its attendances, even surpassing 80k for its home game vs Liverpool in October, and Kane has been in fine goalscoring form this year for both Spurs and England.

The rest of the field look up against it although Jonnie Peacock had 9 weeks of BBC primetime exposure on Strictly this year with viewers getting to know him, and appreciating his skill and determination as a Paralympian sportsman. It will come as no surprise if he outruns his odds but top 3 looks a big ask.

Overall, Joshua looks hard to beat but with room for Hamilton to fall a long way short of his 2014 vote total (he achieved 48k in 2015), and no knowing how high Northern Ireland voters and Superbike fans could push Rea’s vote, he looks worth chancing for a top 3 finish, with Kane and Farah the other two to consider in what could prove a tight race for the places.

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