Indifference rules as voters desert Sports Personality

Indifference rules as voters desert Sports Personality

The 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award attracted less than half the number of votes of last year’s competition.

Just 341,959 votes were cast for the 10 all-male candidates in the running for the BBC’s flagship award, down from 698,234 in 2010.

Almost half of the votes went to Sports Personality of the Year Mark Cavendish, who became only the third cyclist to lift the prestigious televised award after Tommy Simpson in 1965 and Sir Chris Hoy in 2008.

Big winner: Mark Cavendish was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Thursday night

Big winner: Mark Cavendish was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Thursday night

However, Cavendish still only earned 58 per cent of the votes achieved by jockey Tony McCoy 12 months ago.

The decision to broadcast the show on a Thursday night — in direct competition with Tottenham Hotspur’s Barclays Premier League clash with Chelsea at White Hart Lane, which was shown on Sky — may have played a part in voters’ apathy.

But the outcry over the absence of any female candidates, which led to the triathlon world champion Chrissie Wellington to boycott the live show in Salford, could also have been a factor.

Bookmakers believe that this lack of women will change in 2012, with Jessica Ennis heading the early betting on next year’s gong.

The heptathlon star is tipped to shine in the Olympics, while swimmer Rebecca Adlington is also one of the front-runners to top the BBC polls.