SPOTY could be miss­ing its top three stars

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - By Si­mon Briggs TEN­NIS CORRESPONDENT

The BBC is grow­ing in­creas­ingly con­cerned that next Sun­day’s Sports Per­son­al­ity of the Year show could be blighted by the ab­sence of the top three fin­ish­ers in the pub­lic poll.

Andy Mur­ray, the run­away favourite to win an unprecedented third ti­tle, is train­ing in Mi­ami with head coach Ivan Lendl, and will have to ac­cept any award via video link.

Mo Farah – who was un­en­thu­si­as­tic about SPOTY in a re­cent news­pa­per in­ter­view – is also un­likely to be present, while Gareth Bale is laid up after re­cent surgery on an an­kle in­jury. Bale’s agent con­firmed yes­ter­day that he will not be mak­ing the jour­ney.

So while 2016 has been one of Great Bri­tain’s finest sport­ing years on record, the BBC’s tra­di­tional end-of-year party could wind up be­ing the first one to fea­ture none of the podium fin­ish­ers.

Pre­sented by Gabby Lo­gan, Clare Bald­ing and Gary Lineker, the event will be staged next Sun­day at the Gent­ing Arena in Birm­ing­ham, which has a ca­pac­ity of over 15,000 seats. Pub­lic tick­ets were priced at £45 and sold out soon after go­ing on the mar­ket.

The or­gan­is­ers will be hop­ing for a strong vote for Alis­tair Brown­lee, the triath­lete listed by the book­mak­ers as the man most likely to break up the Mur­ray-Farah-Bale axis.

Brown­lee has gained ex­tra gloss from his fairy-tale mo­ment in Mex­ico in Septem­ber, where he helped guide his cramp­ing, stag­ger­ing brother Jonny across the fin­ish line. He, at least, is likely to be on hand to ac­cept any award in per­son.

The BBC’s 16-strong short­list was an­nounced at the end of last month and came un­der fire for fea­tur­ing none of the play­ers in­volved in the Eng­land rugby team’s record-equalling se­quence of 14 wins.

An­other sur­pris­ing ab­sen­tee is Chris Froome, who won the Tour de France for the third time in four years, and caught the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion when he ran up Mont Ven­toux after crash­ing into the back of a cam­era-car­ry­ing mo­tor­bike, Un­sur­pris­ingly, Froome is also ex­pected to skip the event, which was launched in 1954 and re­tains an un­canny knack for start­ing ar­gu­ments.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.