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Button doesn’t have X Factor when it comes to sports personality
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Button doesn’t have X Factor when it comes to sports personality
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Dec 2009   |  1:13 pm GMT  |  67 comments

Jenson Button collected a trophy yesterday at the BBC’s Sport Personality of the Year award, but not the one he was expecting.

Button: lost out to Giggs (Darren Heath)

Button: lost out to Giggs (Darren Heath)

He was the favourite going into the event, but like Lewis Hamilton last year, the F1 world champion found himself demoted to second place, in this case by the Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs.

The award is based on a public vote during the programme and this year’s Sports Personality event was totally overshadowed by the X Factor talent show which was on at the same time on ITV and which drew an audience of 20 million people. BBC had a mere 4.7 million. This may well have contributed to Button’s demise, as Giggs’ supporters, particularly the Manchester United and Welsh contingents, were more committed to getting their man the vote. Button’s allies were concerned about this before the weekend.

Button will not be the only one licking his wounds this morning. Bookies William Hill took a bet from an individual of £24,560, the largest ever staked on the BBC Sports Personality event on Button at odds of 4/5 – giving the punter a potential return of £44,208.

But it wasn’t a bad weekend for Button; on Friday he claimed his trophy as F1 World Champion.

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I for one was amazed to hear that Button was the favourite going in to this. Giggs has a huge profile, millions of fans, is well-liked across the board (very rare for a footballer) and has support from people who don't mind the idea of being charged to express their opinion in a phone-in vote.

Why anyone expected someone other than Giggs to win this is beyond me.


I completely agree. I mean, I'm not even from UK, but I know Giggs has been in ManUtd for like 2 decades and if I'm not mistaken that was his last season or this is, but either way, many people are going to give him support as a nice good bye gift. More for his career achievement that for this year alone.


Nope, he's been offered a new contract for next season and is playing some of the best football of his life. Wouldn't be surprised if he carried on til 40, or even beyond


I agree, Giggs won with 150,000 votes or so that's only the amount of people it takes to fill Old Trafford twice over and more importantly people tend to support a football team far more vigerously than an F1 driver. As I've mentioned many many times on this blog people don't always follow the local F1 driver (hence my dislike of excessively pro-British coverage), whilst they are much more likely to follow the local(ish) football team.

Button probably deserved it more than Giggs over the last 12 months, but Giggs isn't going to win it ever again whilst Button has a chance.

It speaks volumes for F1 that the British public see a footballer and cyclist as more worthy winners than F1 champions. Perhaps F1 should stop believing it's own hype, X-Factor is more appealing to most people!


I can't see how racing of any discipline can truly rival, and certainly not exceed, stick and ball sports for mass appeal. Soccer is orders of magnitude more popular than any motorsport. It's a populist sport, and Man Utd is known ALL OVER THE WORLD for that reason. It has immediate name recognition, even beyond hardcore soccer fans. Baseball, if not in Europe, is otherwise enormously widespread, and the New York Yankees, like Man U, are a world famous team. Like Man U, they are in mass consciousness, even among non-fans. Among racing teams of any kind, Ferrari alone has that kind of name recognition -- and certainly so among F1 teams.

F1 is an elitist sport and business. That's part of the appeal for many who follow it, and Bernie has certainly pushed this angle to sponsors. You don't see biscuits, beer or cereal ads on the sides of the cars. Yacht racing is probably the nearest thing to it.

Given this, F1 will NEVER have the mass appeal of the more accessible stick and ball sports. I think that's lost sight of in the UK because so much of F1 is concentrated there; the impact of the thing is magnified among those who follow it.

I've always wondered about Bernie's viewership figures. He can't seriously contend that more people watch an F1 race on weekends than ALL other sports, can he? It doesn't seem likely that all the broadcasts of the NFL, NBA and MLB (here in the US), and the Premiership, Serie A, Champions League etc, across the Pond (and rugby and cricket elsewhere), COMBINED are overshadowed by F1 every weekend.

Whatever the merits of his arguments on Silverstone's facilities for the fans in the stands, I can't help feeling that he makes so much noise about the issue in an effort to maintain some veneer of populist appeal, in the Old Trafford/Yankee Stadium sense of the term, in F1. Maybe out of guilt for taking things so far in the opposite direction...


I hope you backed Giggs when he was a big price if it was that obvious you would of made a mint!


What the people want the people get 🙄


"This is what you want, this is what you get",

a lyric by John Lydon (Johnny Rotten).

The tune that goes with it is wonderful. Its also used as the closing theme to the awesome

low budget (£1 million) sci fi film "Hardware",

which is a bit of a cult classic.

Cars, Racing? Oh sorry, just drifted off there...


weirdly, as a Manchester United fan, i found myself amazed that Giggs was even listed for Sports Personality of the Year - for just being voted the other players favourite of last season??? yes he's an outstanding team player, and a great captain - but he didnt personally acheive anything! i think the format of this award needs rethinking - maybe a web-based week of voting before the show would be a better idea - bet Jenson would have won if that had been the case this year!


As a Liverpool fan even I admit I have a huge respect for Giggs both as a player and man, but I still don't see why 1) he was player of the year, and 2) why he won?! Surely a lifetime achievment in a couple of years would've been more fitting?? Again a Formula 1 WDC loses out. This Chris Hoy over Lewis annoyed me considering Lewis's achievements in such a short time however I understood that a little bit more because don't bet against an olympian in an Olympic year. But Giggs over Jense?? C'mon...


I agree with that, what's Giggs done this year 🙄 😕


I was surprised to hear that Ryan Giggs had won it. The X Factor final drew in 20 millioin viewers. Whoever at the BBC decided to put the Sports Personality of the Year on, on the same day, needs their head examined.

Did you vote for Giggsy James?


What a bore this is, is it any wonder F Factor beat it hands down ❓ Me thinks not ❗


Bah Humbug!


Hate to say it but if Lewis didn't win it then I don't think Jenson deserved to.


Make that both are not worthy, Button is better. But still no British talent in F1 is going to be worthy enough to match upto Football.

Hamilton? what a joke. Since when did liars have appeal?


I disagree: last year there was in my opinion much stiffer competition for the award because of all the olympic success the UK had.

Also, I think regardless of his driving ability people might take to Button more than Hamilton. Hamilton seems to be a slightly awkward character whereas Button is more media-friendly.

I think Hamilton is the better driver, Button the more likeable.


Couldn't agree more. I would have felt bad for Lewis if Button had won it. The BBC are so stupid putting it on at the same time as X Factor. Had they done it next weekend there would have been millions of more viewers, what are they thinking?


Sorry Jeson but they're both right.......


and sorry for spelling your name wrong too!!


When they announced Button second I thought that all the cycling forums might have fixed it for Cavendish, seen as there is a lot of support for cycling in this country. Couldn't believe when they announced Giggs.

I suppose it wouldn't have been as much of a surprise if I knew anything about Ballfooting.


I don't think the cycling forums would have been strong enough (or organised enough) to get Cavendish into the frame for the top spot, but I would have been pleased if he'd won it. He's had great year, and in le Tour he was just MIGHTY! In fact, there were several candidates this year who could have justifiably beaten Jensen, including Haye and Ennis.

But Giggs?? Surely not?


Well I'm from Australia and from an outsiders point of view I can't see why Cavendish wasn't a shoe-in for 1st place? The guy did amazing things in the past year.


Giggs had the prime slot last night, broadcast third just before half of the audience switched over to X Factor. He was always going to be a contender with United being such a well-supported club and there also being a sizeable regional vote from Wales, plus the 'sentimental' angle too. It was a very poor turnout as well - only half a million votes were cast compared to 20 million votes in X Factor. But Giggs had half as many votes again as Jenson so would likely have won regardless.

By the way, don't believe everything the bookies say in their press releases. You'd be lucky to get £200 on a novelty market such as SPOTY, never mind £20k. Claims I've read that the industry lost £2 million are total nonsense - I wouldn't be surprised if Button would have been a worse result than Giggs given the amount of people who backed him at 50/1 and 80/1 before the F1 season kicked off.


Got to feel sorry for the person who put £24500 on Button to win this...



maybe it was Button, who bet on himself to win!


I could see this coming. he came across a bit arrogant, i think it was a mistake doing jonathon ross, and of course he's jumped ship for next year.


Jenson didn't jump ship Brawn is no longer and Mercedes wouldn't give JB the same contract as Nico Rosberg so no wonder he found alternative employment.


Never mind Button not winning - that is actually beside the point. And ultimately JB already has the trophy that really matters in his cabinet, the one with FIA F1 World Drivers Champion written on it. 😉

The main thing to come out of this weekend was that BBC Sports Personality lost more credibility and importance last night. To have it on the same date/time as the XFactor final was a big mistake by its producers, they took a good beating in the ratings (16m against 4m I believe) and many people who would have watched it and voted on a regular weekend probably didn't get a chance. Then to see the award go to Ryan Giggs was an even bigger mistake, a disappointment and a farce even.

Giggs is a top footballer with a long career, yes, fine, but ultimately he has never even qualified for a world cup in his own sport (granted, solely due the country he plays for) and yet he gets the award based on the sympathy vote (at best), while all the WORLD CHAMPIONS in contention got overlooked.

Jenson Button (who got my vote), David Haye, Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley - they were the best in their sports WORLDWIDE in 2009 - yet the same cannot be said about the actual winner. A real shame.

PS.: What does Valentino Rossi need to do to make at least the final list on the international category?!?


As you point out at the end of your blog, Sports Personality would have been a bonus, but it's the shiny F1 trophy he'll be kissing.


No disrespect to Giggs, but the SPOTY public vote needs to change.

The award used to be judged by a panel of sporting experts and observers, and reflected the pre-eminent individual of the year. Now, you just get well-mobilised fan bases voting for their favourites.

Giggs is a great footballer. But this season, has he done anything to compare to an F1 world title?



And the great and the good voted for the team of the year and chose the English cricket team...

Madness.... the girls cricket team deserved it tons more and certainly Brawn deserved that a lot more than Jense deserved SPOTY...

But perhaps the great and good felt Jense would win SPOTY so didn't vote for Brawn for the team...


Nice little earner for the beeb now by getting the public to vote via their mobile phones!


Am I the only person that couldn't care less about SPOTY or X Factor?


You and me both mate.

Who gives a monkeys about awards or viewer phone-vote drivel.

I don't get it, what exactly is the point, am I supposed to now re-evaluate my opinion of Cavendish, Button or Ennis based on how many people could mash at the redial button.

The real point of sport, is that it's done on the field, it is self-evident, you don't need an opinion poll or a popularity contest to see who the winners are.


Right on! 🙂 This mediagenic rubbish can rest in peace, 2010 is going to be an awsome year for F1, we should focus on that, not about some sport awards show that clashes with something even worse that the brainless sheep have been dragged into. Besides, I don't like Button much anymore, he's a bit of a traitor if you ask me, Barrichello is the best personality/driver combo if you ask me.


Nope, I was playing Assassin's Creed 2 when all this was going on!


Nope - I was in the pub...


Nope, there are at least 2 of us..!!


nope! 🙂


I wonder did Ross spend his evening kicking the back of Jensons chair 🙂

Giggs was a deserved winner a total professional and a great guy. F1 drivers unfortunately dont always come across well to the general non F1 public. I dont think they can warm to them, maybe its due to the arrogance etc.


Maybe Button not winning is a reflection on how those voting see F1 and sport ❓ 😕

Let's face it if Lewis couldn't win last year after the epic season he'd had and the fairytale last race and last corner action I am glad Button didn't as to me he was less worthy than Hamilton ❗ :-0


When you put things to a public vote then the public vote in a partisan way rather than an objective way. In those circumstances you would expect JB to get more votes than any of the athletes as F1 has a bigger and more vocal following, but F1 just can’t compete with Football.

In that respect I guess it isn’t so surprising.

Any objective test, I am sure, would have returned JB though. Not through any measure of talent, ability, or really deserving it but simply through the media expsosure of his personality which few of the other contenders recieved.

At the end of the day the competition is generally meaningless so, as nice as it would have been to see an F1 driver get it, we shouldn't quibble too much.


We decided not to bet on SPOTY - couldn't really spot any value in it - but, if we had, it would have been a couple of quid at most.

That is an eye-wateringly sizeable hit taken by the punter you mention, and no mistake!


Ryan Giggs won it. Christmas has come early for me, I got him at 20/1!


I can't imagine Button cares that much about losing out. As has been said he's got the trophy he worked all year for, the F1 World Championship. As for Giggs winning a supposed personality contest, give me a break!


SPOTY doesn't really mean anything to me, to be honest. It's a very arbitrary-feeling award.


You are not alone.

It used to function so much better. BBC sports personality is presented like a memorial service for world sport with moving tributes after moving tribute. This presentation style suited the intimate black tie gathering that it used to be, but it does not work in a stadium with thousands of people. Next year they should raise the roof and throw a proper party.

Congratulations Giggsy. F1 drivers have definitely lost traction with the british public. Tax dodging ain't cool.


I was surprised that Brawn GP did not make team of the year.


Indeed. Brawn not winning that was way more suprising then Jenson not winning all things considered. I'd rather Ross Brawn have got the main award than Jenson to be honest - it was more about his work.


But maybe a gong for Ross in the New Year's Honours List?


No surprise at all... Button is a dead horse in F1, and everything else... no talent, no skill should equal no reward - but that's why the FIA are hated the world over. To fulfil their greed and need for power plays, you end up with lame WDCs, who should never even be in contention for a WDC.

In my book, Button was at best a candidate for leaving F1... now we are stuck with a boring driver in a top F1 seat - what a waste... it should have gone to someone who can really push a car to the limit... it's cheap stunts like Button's WDC, that really makes me dispise everything about the way the FIA corrupt proceedings...


Sheesh Ron...you have some issues there mate - Jenson still had to get the car around the circuit you know!!!


Who cares who won. Sure jenson would rather have picked up his wdc trophy than this one.

And as for the x factor who cares..... It stopped being any good after the really rubbish people were eliminated. People are jealous that these guys live a life of fast cars beautiful women and loads of money.

I don't agree f1 drivers are arrogant. Any one given the chance to earn that sort of money would move to a low tax regime.


The audience demographics of Sports Personality of the Year and X Factor are very different, the latter appealing more to families and to a greater proportion of the ladies. Even had I wanted to watch the BBC, which I didn't, Mrs Werewolf would have made herself a widow if I'd got within a yard of the remote! So I snuck upstairs and read JA on F1 instead.

I also tend to find, certainly among my circle, that many F1 devotees and potential voters have less interest in other (non-motor)sports, whereas those whose passion lies with more traditionally athletic passtimes - and they are greater in number - often seem to view racing drivers as something other than real sportsmen.

At the end of the day, though, who cares? Each to his own.


When JB was announced as second, I thought David Haye had it...but Giggs was a complete shock, and it clearly was to him also.

Jenson didnt look too bothered and was probably just pleased that it was at least another trophy for the cabinet - and he has certainly collected a few of those over the last 2 weeks!

I do agree that the Beeb should revist the shows format. When it was a panel vote, black-tie do, it had more gravitas.


Well done to Giggs. Button got so much media exposure before the vote (Jonathan Ross etc) I couldn't believe it either. Was shocked to see such a low turnout to the voting

Can't believe Ross Brawn wasn't even nominated for 'coach' of the year. Capello hasn't won any trophies this year has he?

I'm enjoying your book James, brilliant !


SPOTY was a joke last night. What has Giggs done this year, nothing. I think it was an insult to the World Champions present. It says in the title Personality - where does that refer to Giggs, he hasn't got one!


Giggs is a very good Footballer who works hard and has done very well. However, he really has no discernable personality, nor has he done anything of note this year.... So you have to conclude he was just voted in by an organised group of Man U fans and the Welsh, I doubt anybody else would have even thought of voting for him.


No one could begrudge Giggs the award considering the career he's had - he's a worthy winner. Jenson is just unlucky that it was his championship year when Giggsy got it. The same as Hamilton winning it in an Olympic year. Any other year and it was his.


All the way through the show the presence of the X Factor on the other channel felt like the proverbial elephant in the room. If I was in power at the BBC, heads would roll over the utterly dunderheaded idea to put SPOTY up against that show. It may be crap, but The X-Factor's ability to dominate its time slot is hardly news. The BBC should have known better.

Also, Ryan Giggs? Seriously? It's Sports PERSONALITY Of The Year. Giggs hasn't GOT any personality.


They knew, but couldn't do anything about it because they had chosen to book this massive arena and sell tickets to the public. If it had been the old style show, with a studio at BBC TV Centre with just sporting figures there, they could have put it back an hour or so.


Giggs is a very worthy winner and very deserving. He follows a trend in recent years with people winning after many years at the top (Calzaghe 2007) and Hoy (2008).

With regards to F1 you have to say that it is very healthy in this country at present. Second for the last three years is some going. Football has been in the top three once as has swimming, athletics and cycling. Boxing has featured twice in the same period....


Well, iam happy he lost. He is a rich tax dodger and a driver who has never enthused alot of people. I for once was happy that giggs won....and iam an arsenal fan. Button doesn't do anything for me iam afraid.


It seems clear that BBC SPOTY is as outdated as our dear old Sue. What's needed is a house that all the SPOTY contestants are put into with cameras to watch them interact with each other 24 hours a day for 12 weeks. They'll be set various tasks to do and in return they'll get food allowances based upon success. At the end of each week they will have a sing off followed by a public vote that evicts one of the housemates...only then will this old chestnut stand a chance of making a dent on XFactor ratings.


Staggered that Ryan Giggs won I mean what outstanding achievement did he get this year. I could have accepted any of the other eight winning over Jenson (just) but Giggs winning made a mockery of the SPOTY who on earth decided he warrented a nomination. I did try hard to get JB to win don't think hubby will be too pleased with phone bill when it arrives. Like last year the real winner came second.

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