Murray Layers Made To Sweat

Sep 21, 2015 by

Murray Layers Made To Sweat

Betfair’s Sports Personality of The Year market is a real favourite to trade year-long. If you know your sport and have the time and inclination to monitor the key events, it can be very lucrative.

This year has proved no exception. Jess Ennis was guaranteed to emerge as a major contender IF she won gold at the athletics world championships. Amazingly, her SPOTY odds were still available at 16-1 e/w on the high street, despite leading the heptathlon after day 1 of the event.

Her gold medal in Beijing after recently having a baby, combined with her status as the golden girl of British athletics, suggests she will be hard to topple on Sunday, December 20 at the BBC’s famed awards ceremony, being held in Belfast this year, and she is now a best-priced 5-4 favourite to win SPOTY 2015.

Tour de France winner Chris Froome and last year’s SPOTY winner, Lewis Hamilton, who is in pole position to defend his F1 world title with 6 GPs to go at time of writing, are next in the betting market, both available at a best price of 8-1, though doubts have to surround both.

Froome suffers due to cycling being dragged through the mire of drug allegations and not having the same profile as 2012 SPOTY winner Bradley Wiggins. Hamilton is very likely to suffer due to what is best described as the recency effect. Having won SPOTY last year, it seems unlikely the petrol heads will be as motivated to vote for him again this year and 2015 is shaping up as a much stronger sporting year compared to 2014 when Hamilton only had Rory McIlroy to beat.

It is also worth noting no one has ever won SPOTY in back to back years, and only Henry Cooper, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill have won the award twice.

Andy Murray comes next in the betting market at 10-1. After his exit at the last 16 stage at the US Open, his SPOTY 2015 prospects were written off by some brave or more likely naive Betfair layer(s) who offered him as high as 55.

What the layer(s) didn’t factor in, was that Murray would remain a very solid SPOTY contender IF GB wins this year’s Davis Cup. In Glasgow at the weekend GB won a compelling semi-final tie vs Australia 3-2, with Murray winning both his singles, and teaming up with brother Jamie to win the crucial doubles rubber.

Now GB will take on Belgium in the final at the end of November in Belgium, likely on clay, in an attempt to win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936, and GB’s winning chance will very likely hinge on Murray again winning both his singles, and the doubles rubber with brother Jamie. Murray has stated he will likely miss the World Tour Finals in London a week or so earlier to conserve his energy and prepare for the Belgium tie.

Mo Farah successfully defended his 5,000m and 10,000m world titles in Beijing which was an outstanding achievement. The concern in terms of Farah’s SPOTY chance is that his stature has been tarnished by the alleged doping offences of his coach Alberto Salazar. Not only that, but as a headline double gold medal winner at the London Olympics in 2012, he was still only able to finish 4th (131,327) in the SPOTY polling that year behind both Ennis (2nd – 372,765) and Murray (3rd – 230,444).

Earlier in the year there was a gamble on 2010 SPOTY winner Tony McCoy, matched as low as 3.25 on Betfair, after he announced his retirement from the saddle. This looked a somewhat optimistic punt at the time given McCoy’s 2010 SPOTY win was very much a career accolade and it seems unlikely he will appear on the BBC’s shortlist of 10 SPOTY candidates this year, with him more likely lined up for a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wayne Rooney recently passed Bobby Charlton’s all-time England scoring record which saw him spark some betting interest in the SPOTY market. If Rooney makes the shortlisted 10, prepare for his odds to plummet from a Back price of 46 on BF at time of writing.

The concern is, the Beeb may well ensure he isn’t among the shortlisted ten for fear of the power of the populist football vote and a repeat of the Ryan Giggs scenario, as Giggs took the 2009 SPOTY title despite keeping Man Utd’s bench warm for most of the season.

It seems unlikely one of England’s Ashes heroes – most likely Joe Root or Stuart Broad, possibly both – will harness enough of a vote to challenge, given coverage was on Sky and the series didn’t capture the public the way it did back in 2005 when it was on Channel 4 and proved such an epic series, with Freddy Flintoff going on to win SPOTY that year.

We may well see a politically correct move by the Beeb in having a female footballer on the nominated shortlist, most likely captain Steph Houghton, to up this year’s female quota, after England achieved a surprise third place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Adam Peaty’s double gold at the World Swimming Championships should see him on the shortlist, while victory for Tyson Fury, who will fight Wladimir Klitschko for his world titles on October 24, would see him make the list, with Klitschko 2-7 to win that bout.

Arguably the one remaining event this year which could have a significant impact on the SPOTY market is the Rugby World Cup. It will require a home nation to triumph and an outstanding individual performance to emerge which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility although New Zealand are very strong 6-5 favourites to retain their world title.

Assessing the SPOTY odds as they stand today, and factoring in the likelihood of future sporting events in 2015, the value in the market has to be Andy Murray at 8-1 e/w a quarter the odds with William Hill and BetVictor (Paddy Power, Stan James and Bwin go 10-1 but win-only).

A Davis Cup win for GB, assessed by the odds compilers as a 4-9 shot, would see Murray’s SPOTY odds shorten dramatically. The potential timeliness of a Davis Cup win, shown live on the BBC, the historic nature of the achievement, Murray’s single-handed contribution, and the fact he would be assured a strong and partisan Scottish vote and has polled extremely well in recent SPOTYs, would make him a very solid contender to not only podium but possibly even challenge Ennis for the win.


Andy Murray – 2pts e/w (a quarter the odds first 3) – 8-1 – William Hill, BetVictor


  1. Rob

    He remains 20-1 for a reason. Tabloid coverage has no correlation with a sportsperson’s chance of getting on the SPOTY shortlist.

    If he gets in the 10, as stated, he’ll be a strong contender for the prize. It sounds like you are heavily invested in him winning.

    I have Rooney covered, along with Ennis, Murray, Farah… In fact, I have an all-green book. It has been a dream year of SPOTY to trade. Good luck to you 🙂

  2. Hi guys

    Rooney is the one player in this year’s edition that I’m struggling a little bit with. I understand all the points made above in relation to how he could get plenty of votes but I also have doubts that people really care that much about what he/ England has done this year. He’s still a price though to cover easily on.

    Like you Rob I’m fine with Jess, Murray and Mo with the biggest green on Murray. Hamilton is quite interesting and think he has a good chance of 3rd. I think Froome will struggle and have a red on him.

    The low prices on AP McCoy at the start of the year have really set things up nicely. The substantial increase in this price these last few days could maybe suggest some people know he is inked in for the Lifetime Achievement award.

    Looking forward to seeing how things unfold.



    • Rob

      Sounds like you have a nice book there, Paul 🙂

      We have just seen Alastair Cook become England’s all-time record century maker. This is an achievement on the same level as Rooney’s for England.

      This is why you have to question whether Rooney will even get shortlisted. I doubt Cook will make the shortlist, far more likely Root or Broad for what they have achieved IN 2015.

  3. Don Wimble

    Good article Rob – still much to be played for

  4. Tom

    Rooney is by no means guaranteed a place on the shortlist, however it is interesting that the BBC have mentioned his achievements for England as one of the ‘highlights of 2015’ in their last article:

    I only became interested in backing Rooney for SPOTY after watching his documentary. It was very well received on social media. IF he makes the shortlist he is in with a big shot I think. But that IF is why he is still 20-1.

  5. Bruce

    I’m with you on Murray Rob even more so now as although Jess Eniss’s reputation is squeaky clean her sport is tarnished, even more so today. Excellent cover exists by laying GB to lose the tie or laying Andy to lose his first singles tie at probably very skinny prices. If Alex Bedene were to be allowed to play then I probably wouldn’t feel the need to cover the GB losing possible spoiler.

    • Rob

      I’m not sure it damages Ennis at all, Bruce. Farah, yes, but not the golden girl of British athletics, with the back story of recently giving birth.

      But at the odds Murray has looked the value e/w play for some time. Like you say, cover your SPOTY stake by laying very short during the DC.

      • Bruce

        I doubt many people will be choosing to vote for an Athlete. It’s all about value and odds on for Jess is madness to me. I foresee polling after a GB Davis cup win to be massively in Murrays favour and a huge shake up in the odds. Ever the optimist 😀

        • Rob

          Jess is certainly far too short, and will drift if Muzza carries GB to a Davis Cup win, and then gets himself on the shortlist.

          There were similar doubts over Wiggins when doping hit cycling but he still won comfortably.

  6. apleximus

    Hi Rob what do you think of the prospects of Jamie Vardy? Scoring in 10 straight games and sending Leicester to the top of the Premier League is a pretty extraordinary achievement, and will be fresh in voters’ minds, even compared to the likes of Ennis-Hill.
    If he ends up on the shortlist, and considering the might of the football vote that you referred to, could he be a danger?

    • Rob

      It’s an interesting angle. I see he is 999-1 on BF so well worth a couple of quid 🙂

      The football vote is potentially powerful and could help him and/or Rooney. The interesting thing now is, whether the Davis Cup final will even take place next weekend.

      If it is postponed, it would likely scupper Any Murray’s chance of making the shortlist, as the 10 will be announced on Nov 30 on The One Show.

      • Rob

        Great call on Vardy, Alex. I grabbed some 1000. He has since traded on BF as low as 46. A brilliant trade even if he fails to make the shortlist. A huge weekend ahead for the SPOTY market with Muzza trying to win the Davis Cup, Fury taking on Klitschko tomorrow night and Vardy looking to score again against Man Utd tomorrow.

        The shortlisted 10 will be revealed on Monday evening on The One Show.

        • Tim B

          He shoots, he scores!!! Is there any chance that both Vardy and Rooney could both be on the shortlist Rob? That way, the football vote would be split between them, in theory and someone else like Ennis, Muzza or Hamilton could end up winning it.

          • Rob

            I’ve just been contemplating that very question, Tim. Vardy has already proved a terrific trade if you managed to jump on at 1000. The big question is, will he make the shortlist, will both he and Rooney make the shortlist, will only Rooney make the shortlist, or will neither make the shortlist?

            I think the Beeb might be wary of the populist football vote after Giggs made a bit of a mockery of SPOTY when he won.

            Like you say, if both make the shortlist, that could, in theory, split the football vote. But I can find 10 for my shortlist without Rooney and Vardy on it.

            Ennis, Murray (assuming DC victory), Hamilton, Froome, Farah, Rutherford, Root, Adam Peaty, Steph Houghton, Lizzi Armistead

            The selection committee has plenty of women on it and it is my view the Beeb is very caught up in ‘equal rights’ and will likely want 3 women among the shortlisted 10.

  7. Rob

    Add Fury to the contenders list. Tougher still for both footballers to get on the shortlist.

  8. Bruce

    Not long before Murray will be odds on, first poll published should do it. Would only be worried about Vardy making the list so covered him.

    • Rob

      Hi Bruce. Good to hear you have benefitted from Muzza’s tumbling SPOTY odds. Agree Vardy could go very well in the vote IF he is the only footballer on the shortlist. Worth the gamble at current odds.

      • Bruce

        I doubt either footballer will make the list but the obvious thing with Vardy is that he can continue making headlines every week up until the presentation itself. Playing for such an underdog it is quite a remarkable achievement.
        Thanks for your original Murray post it helped clarify my thoughts on the award and It did lead to some hefty wagers at around the 8/1 mark. I do genuinely believe he will be well clear of Jess in the voting.

    • Tim B

      Hi Bruce, do you know when/where the first poll might be published? SPOTY virgin here 😀

      • Bruce

        Not certain Tim. There is always one in the Telegraph but that result seems to have been announced on the day of the event last year and I remember clearly McIlroy drifting last year well in advance of the night that was attributed to polling.
        I’m sure Rob or someone else can enlighten us.

      • Rob

        iirc There was a YouGov SPOTY poll last year, Tim, which accurately predicted Hamilton. The Telegraph one, as Bruce says, is usually an accurate barometer – it also had Hamilton comfortably clear. Keep an eye out in the week or 2 leading up to the big event.

        Last year was a staggering result for poll followers as McIlroy went as low as about 1.15 iirc, in-running – turned out to be a monumental lay and nice to see the BF market was clean (no insiders).

      • Bruce

        Murray now odds on on betfair

  9. apleximus

    Murray now challenging Jess for favouritism, unsurprising given the euphoria of this afternoon. Wouldn’t want to definitively call him the winner, but the layers will certainly be sweating even more than when this article was posted! 8/1 ew now seems almost guaranteed a return.

  10. Rob

    The shortlisted 12:

    Ennis, Murray, Fury, Hamilton, Froome, Farah, Rutherford, Lucy Bronze, Lizzie Armistead, Peaty, Whitlock, Sinfield

    As predicted, 3 women on the list & as suggested NO footballer on the list. Sorry to those who lost on Rooney and Vardy but you were warned.

    • Tim B

      The time to lay off the big prices on Vardy was on Saturday, which luckily I managed to do. With three high profile athletes on the list, it’s hard to imagine Jess Ennis-Hill going on to be the winner. I think the Top 3 might be Murray, Hamilton and Fury, in no particular order. I’d never heard of him until this evening, but I can envisage a campaign among Rugby League supporters to get Kevin Sinfield as high up as possible. Perhaps a potential surprise candidate for Top 3?

      • Rob

        Well done Tim. Vardy was a great trade. Fury has a pretty poor public profile after some of the inflammatory statements he has made previously but the Irish travelling community will likely give him a boost, and the show is in Belfast (but UK-only vote so no ROI vote for him). He was also banging on about how great he is on the radio this afternoon – never a vote winner.

        I don’t think Ennis will be hurt by Farah and Rutherford’s inclusion. She is the golden girl of British sport, recent motherhood back story. Farah hurt by drug allegations surrounding his coach. Rutherford’s achievement fades into the background by comparison.

        Sinfield is the interesting one. R.league fans will have a campaign for him. Would like an e/w first 3 places price on him. Sadly, the stingy bookies only offering e/w first 2 atm.

        • Hi Rob, Sinfield for top 3 is a good shout. I’ve been on the RL Forums and people are very hopeful of a good showing. I can’t recall a RL Player being on the list in recent times if ever? He had a great season for Leeds, leading them to the treble and they could have had a shout for Team of the year up until the Davis Cup win. It is a pity we can only get top 2!

          • Rob

            Hi The General. Big gamble developed on him already. There was some 100-1 e/w first 2 earlier this evening with Coral. Ideally want e/w first 3. Being matched at 32 on BF, while you can still get 66-1 on the high street (with Paddy P).

          • Thanks Rob, I took 66/1 the other day after your reply and see he is as low as 16s atm, though 25s is available in places. It’s more in loyalty to RL than anything as I’m a massive Saints fan! It would be nice if I got something back from a man who has caused my team a whole world of pain in the past decade! I see Murray is now odds on, super pick as per mate

  11. Gaz

    I put a tenner on Murray for SPOTY the day before the conclusion GB v AUS Davis cup tie.

    I got 25/1 with Ladbrokes, I am wishing I put a bit more on now… as there is 4 clear contenders (J E-H, AM, TF, LH) I don’t think its even worth covering this.

    Reading the above comments, I might let this ride until the polls are released in a few weeks.

  12. Gaz

    I do apologise – I put the bet on during the GB v France tie in July.

    Thats how I got 25/1.

    Cheers for posting this article and the link to that poll Rob, I will definitely let this ride now.

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