The Eurovision Song Contest, which stages its live finals on May 23rd, is celebrating its sixtieth year in 2015 and to celebrate the fact, whilst making a mockery of its name, organisers are introducing ‘Australia’ as a guest contestant!

In providing the winning act last year Austria stage this year’s finals which will be staged in Vienna’s Wiener Stadthalle Arena.  The venue may only house 16,000 people, but the event itself is broadcast live to an audience of 180 million people.

The event is eagerly anticipated by a dedicated army of fans and host of related information, news and trivia websites which make the event nirvana for those that like a bet.

During the mid naughties, it became apparent block votes were playing their part in proceedings. Armenia, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Moldova all tended to vote strongly for each other.

There was also defined friendly voting amongst Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia.  Likewise Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland tended to look after each other.

Subsequently a new voting system was introduced in 2009.  It now sees panels of music professionals responsible for 50 percent of each countries vote.

It was because of this punters soon made the foolhardy decision to back technically strong songs and they steered away from the traditional profitable hunting ground of novelty and freak acts.  Finland’s 2006 winners Lordi come to mind.

Under the new criteria, the first major betting coup came in 2011 when a 21-year-old French operatic singer/tenor, Amaury Vassili, traded at 6/4 on the day of the competition.  He was set to sweep all before him, but his song, Sognu, which he performed in Corsican, ultimately finished 15th.

Four years later the bookmakers, and possibly the punters, have not learned from their mistakes.

At this moment in time, Italy is now trading as short as 7/4 for the Eurovision Song Contest.  Their representatives, Il Volo, are a young trio boasting two tenors and their song, Grande Amore, is of the operatic elk.

This song, like the big French failure of 2011, is not performed in English.  This massive fact does not bode well given only twice in the past 25 years has a song performed in a language other than English prevailed:  2007 Serbian, 1998 Hebrew.

If the voting public has had a huge shift in opinion in regards to operas and tenors then maybe Italy really does have a chance but this is not the only hurdle they will have to overcome, there is also the order of performance to consider.

‘The draw’, is a key factor in many game shows and an early performance in the Eurovision has repeatedly proven to be disadvantageous especially as the program lasts for so long.

In 2012, the acts which performed first and second at the live finals finished 24th and 25th.  In total five of the acts which were amongst the first dozen on stage finished in the bottom six places.  In 2013, the winner was drawn 18, the runner-up 20, the third 22nd and the fourth 24th.  Even sixth and seventh were drawn in the 20’s.

In short a bad draw (performing 1-12 of the 27 acts performing on finals night) would be enough to see Italy beaten regardless of what type of song they took to the party.

Italy has to be opposed come what may.

If trying to identify a winner for yourself do consider the camp/gay vote is huge in Eurovision underlined by last year’s winner. Meanwhile recent winners Lena (2010), Ell & Nikki (2011), Loreen (2012) and Emmelie (2013) all performed non-threatening heterosexual love story type fodder using the trump card which is the image of a lost and confused manic pixie dream girl, clad in virginal white, who needs rescuing or, better yet, voting for.

Editor’s Note:

If betting in-running on finals night – and it will generate massive turnover on the betting exchanges – do consider:

Producers receive the votes from all countries prior to announcing them (yes they know the winner the moment voting closes).  However, in the spirit of TV they then ask countries to announce their votes in an order which will make the outright winner as unclear as they possible.

Therefore, countries which have given maximum points to countries other than the likely high scorers are always asked to give their results first.  During this first chaotic five minutes of points announcements, the betting markets are thrown into turmoil as people are fooled into thinking the early results are a true reflection of the overall picture.