Stephen Hawking reviews England's chances

28 May 2014 | David Barrett

Another marketing stunt here from that PR puppet master Paddy Power. The Irish bookmaker has recruited renowned physicist Stephen Hawking to put together a formula on how England should go about winning the football World Cup.

The scientific mind of Hawking was posed with the following two questions:

  1. What are the optimum conditions for England success?
  2. How do you score in a penalty shootout?

To formulate an answer he used a process called General Logistic Regression Modelling and went into a surprising level of detail, looking at a range of variables that would influence England’s chances of victory.

Based on his findings, if you were about to rush to the bookies to stick a bet on the Three Lions – I wouldn’t bother. Conditions in Brazil aren’t looking too favourable, as the English like to play in a temperate climate at a low altitude and as close to home as possible to avoid cultural difference and jet lag. Whilst altitude isn’t too much of a problem, a temperate climate certainly is and there’s a noticeable difference with both culture and time zones between South America and the UK.

One way for Roy Hodgson to combat these negatives is to stick to the red kit and play a 4-4-3 formation to create a positive mind-set. Also, hope for a European referee, as they’re more sympathetic to the style of the English game, rather than pandering to ‘ballerinas like Suarez’ in the words of Stephen Hawking himself.

When it comes to penalties – take a long run up and side foot it in the top corner. Oh and be blonde or bald. I imagine that last aspect is more down to a penchant for German success when it comes to a shootout than any specific genetic advantage.

Kudos to Paddy Power for getting a heavyweight academic involved in a PR campaign and hats off to Hawking for being a good sport. It’s got both the Twittersphere and the mainstream media talking. Nice work.