SPOTY could be moved to a midweek date for second time in 40 years to avoid World Cup final clash

The BBC are set to move Sports Personality of the Year from Sunday to midweek to avoid a clash with the World Cup final.

The annual awards show has been held on a Sunday evening in December in all but one of the last 40 years.

But the winter World Cup has caused Beeb bosses a headache, with the final in Qatar scheduled for December 18 – the date SPOTY would otherwise have been.

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This year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards could be moved to a midweek date to accommodate the World Cup final – pictured is Emma Raducanu winning the gong last year

Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane’s England team could be competing in the World Cup final and if so, they will be in line to dominate the ceremony which is held in December

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As a result, the legendary programme is set to be pushed back until after the tournament has concluded.

The BBC say discussions over this year’s date are still ongoing, but Sportsmail understands it is now likely to be a midweek night before Christmas.

Although the December 18 World Cup final kicks off at 3pm UK time and would finish before SPOTY’s usual 8pm slot, it would have left the show’s producers little time to prepare.

If England were to go the distance, they would be sure to dominate the BBC awards but players and staff would not be able to attend.

England manager Southgate won the Coach of the Year award at last year’s ceremony 

Last year, Gareth Southgate was named Coach of the Year and the Three Lions won Team of the Year following their run to the Euro 2020 final.

Southgate was also awarded Coach of the Year in 2018 after England reached the World Cup semi-final in Russia, while captain and Golden Boot winner Harry Kane was voted third for the main prize.

Star SPOTY host Gary Lineker would also be in Qatar if the BBC stuck with its traditional pre-Christmas Sunday slot, while TV viewing figures could be affected by people gathering together to watch the World Cup.

SPOTY’s Sunday ritual began in 1982, although when cyclist Mark Cavendish won in 2011 it was held on a Thursday night.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the early favourite to win the award later this year off the back of his record-equalling seventh world snooker title

The first time the award was handed out in 1954 it was also on a Thursday and it remained a midweek programme for 20 years.

The last two SPOTY shows have been held at a studio in Salford without a live audience because of Covid-19 restrictions. But this year’s event should return to an arena setting, although a venue has not yet been announced.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the current bookmakers’ favourite to win the main award after he collected his record-equalling seventh world snooker title last week.

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