Marcus Rashford joint-favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year as odds shorten after charity efforts

George Flood
·3-min read

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is now the joint-favourite to win the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award following his remarkable charity efforts which resulted in a government U-turn.

In partnership with food poverty and waste charity FareShare, the England international has helped to raise £20million during the coronavirus pandemic in order to provide three million meals to vulnerable people across the United Kingdom.

Rashford wrote an open letter to MPs this week urging the Government to reverse its decision not to award free school meals vouchers in England - for which nearly 1.3 million children are eligible - outside of term time.

The Manchester United and England forward followed that up with an impassioned article in The Times on Tuesday, detailing his experience of growing up using food banks and receiving free meals as a child.

The government initially refused to extend the program before, on Tuesday, relenting. The cost will come to £120 million in additional funding, Downing Street said.

Reacting to the news, Rashford wrote on Twitter: "I don't even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020."

Referring to Rashford, the Prime Minister's spokesperson added: "The PM welcomes his contribution to the debate around poverty and respects the fact that he has been using his profile as a leading sportsman to highlight important issues."

Rashford has been widely praised for his charitable efforts, last month winning a special recognition award from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, Eamonn O’Neal, for "outstanding activity and contribution to the community".

Many have called for the 22-year-old to at least be made the Sports Personality of the Year, with the latest odds from bookmakers showing him as the joint-favourite for the prestigious prize at around 6/4, along with boxer Tyson Fury, ahead of the likes of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Rashford's odds were previously as long as 150/1, while they were cut down to 80/1 by the start of June.

Boxer Tyson Fury remains firmly in the race to win the prize - awarded in 2019 to England cricketer Ben Stokes - for 2020 after his stunning victory over Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in February that saw him regain his status as a world heavyweight champion.

The award - first given in 1954 - is traditionally voted for by the public via phone and online from a pre-determined shortlist on the night of the annual ceremony held in December.

This year's event is likely to look a little different given that the world of sport has largely been in shutdown over recent months due to the impacts of Covid-19.

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