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Eurovision Song Contest: UK’s Odds To Win In Malmo

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Charlie Mullan

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Eurovision Song Contest: UK's Odds To Win In Malmo

The 64th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Sweden next week, where 37 countries will go to battle to win the prestigious glass microphone trophy.

Olly Alexander has been selected as the UK’s entry to travel to Malmo for the week-long festivities that begin on Monday, May 6.

Alexander, the Years And Years lead singer,’ has a lot of work to do to impress the juries and betting sites, who have the UK as rank outsiders at around 200/1 to 300/1.

One significant change to this year’s contest is that each of the ‘Big 5’, the contest’s biggest financial contributors, will perform their songs at the semi-final stage as well as the defending champions Sweden.

The UK, Germany and Sweden will perform their songs in full on Tuesday night, while France, Italy and Spain will take to the stage two nights later. 

More people will hear the song performed in its entirety, which they will hope will lead to a more successful Eurovision song contest. Those six nations will still be given a pass through to Saturday’s final.

It’s been 27 years of hurt since Katrina And The Waves cruised to a 70-point victory for the UK over Ireland in Dublin in 1997. 

UK Finishing Positions

Sam Ryder’s second place finish to Ukraine in Turin in 2022, was a welcome break from years of disappointing results in the competition, that is watched by over 160 million people worldwide.

Alexander will sing the song ‘Dizzy’ hoping to put on a show and reach the heights needed to win. 

Will he succeed? We’ve broken down the UK’s record in the Eurovision Song Contest since the first contest took place in Switzerland in 1956.

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Brexit Hasn’t Helped UK’s Cause

When the UK voted to withdraw from the European Union, many pundits wondered whether this would have an impact on Eurovision voting. 

The answer is; not really. The UK’s decline in Eurovision had started long before the referendum on June 23, 2016.

In the six years since Brexit, the UK has received a total of 428 votes (not including televotes), 194 more than in the six contests before the referendum.

Brexit Graphic

Four countries – Albania, Israel and fellow Big-5 countries France and Germany have given the UK 18 points each in those six years since the historic vote – the most of any of the countries. 

Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Turkey have not given the UK a point since Brexit, but they have not had a chance to because they have not participated. 

Belarus and Russia each have had three opportunities to award the UK points, but they failed to do so.

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Charm Offensive Needed

As the UK has discovered over the years, it often doesn’t matter how good their songs might be, they just won’t get the votes needed to be successful.

Political voting plays a massive role in the Eurovision Song Contest and for whatever reason, the UK struggles to win friends and votes across Europe.

Ireland’s jury has been the most generous towards the UK with 205 total points given over the years, with Austria second.  

Top 3 graphic

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the jury from Belarus has only given the UK six points, one fewer than Montenegro, before the televoting kicks in.

By selecting Olly Alexander, star of the global TV success ‘It’s A Sin’, the UK has chosen a very popular candidate.

It was only two years ago that Sam Ryder, who was fourth favourite on Eurovision betting sites, was able to put bias to one side and guide the UK to a rare second-placed finish behind Ukraine. 

Take out that runners-up spot and recent results in the contest have been embarrassing for the UK. 

From 2012 onwards, the UK finished 15th or worse every year. That includes the 2021 nightmare when James Newman finished bottom with the dreaded ‘null points’ for the second time in the UK’s history. 

Top 3 5 10 graphic

But let’s look at the positives for the UK ahead of this year’s contest in Malmo, which will mark the 50th anniversary of Abba winning the competition with Waterloo in 1974.

The UK’s 30 top-five finishes, including 24 top-three finishes, are the most in the history of the Eurovision, but no country has appeared in more finals. Alexander is 20/1 on specials betting sites to finish in the top five this year. 

Can this be the year that the UK is announced the winner for the first time in 27 years?  

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Big 5 Status Counts For Nothing

With just one win between them in the previous 13 contests, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK decided to change the rules in their favour in 2011 to improve their chances of success. 

Collectively known as the ‘Big 5’, the biggest financial contributions to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) are exempt from elimination in the semi-finals.

The UK rank third on the Eurovision’s all-time points list, but they face the potential of dropping to fourth if France have a good year and the UK’s struggles continue. 

Big 5 graphic

In recent years, the ‘Big 5’ were given a bye directly into the final where they would perform their song for the first time that week. But in Malmo, their acts will perform on the two semi-final nights, and their place in the final is still guaranteed. 

It’s hoped that by performing their songs live in the days before the final, it gives them more chance of winning over juries from the other nations competing. Time will tell if this tactic works.

Maybe it’s time to take a leaf out of Italy’s book as they seem to find a way of picking the right song to compete year after year. 

So Who Will Get The UK’s Votes This Year?

One of the UK’s favourites countries over the last 10 years has been Sweden. There has always been a strong connection between the two countries throughout the history of the contest.

The UK jury has given more points to Sweden (222) than any other nation, although the Scandinavian country has only sent 145 points in the opposite direction.

UK's Votes graphic

Three times in the last eight contests, including each of the last two, Sweden has been the recipient of maximum points from the UK. However, the last time Sweden gave 12 points to the UK was in 1997, the last time the UK won.

Australia have also done well from the UK with three scores of 10 since the antipodean nation joined the competition in 2015. We expect these trends to continue this year. 

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Charlie Mullan

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