It’s not every day you witness Professor Stephen Hawking being wheeled onto a stage to the booming tones of The Prodigy.
But then it’s not every day Paddy Power asks the foremost thinker of the cosmos to set aside his black hole research and turn to the real mystery of our time: yes, how England can win another World Cup.
We’ve compressed the best of Hawking’s month long study - which he revealed at The Savoy this morning, even down to mathematical theory on penalty shootouts (“don’t tell the Germans,” he electronically quipped) - below.
Grab a pen, Roy...
European refs are needed
European referees give England the best chance of success. 63% of games are won with a European official in charge, compared to 38% when the referee is from elsewhere. Hawking claims this is because they are more sympathetic to the English game.
Cool heads prevail
Hawking estimates that a 5⁰C rise in temperature will reduce England’s chances of winning by 59%.
England are twice as likely to win when playing below 500m above sea level, confusingly.
Stay close to home
England are 22% more likely to win when travelling short haul, apparently due to cultural differences and jet lag.
The early bird
England's chances of winning could improve by a third when kicking off at 15.00 local time, meaning that late match against Italy is even more tricky.
4-3-3 is key
The boffin claims a positive 4-3-3 has a success rate of 58% compared to 48% when playing 4-4-2.
The Three Lions' success rate has been 20% higher in coloured shirts, and Hawking says that German psychologists claim wearing red in particular will have opponents perceive you as more confident, aggressive and dominant.
The penalty shootout
“England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo,” surmised Hawking of England’s previous spot kick encounters at World Cups. While we try and decipher this science speak, take a look at his in depth study into penalties, below...
Fair haired players fare better
Blond and bald players have a conversion rate of 84% and 71%, respectively, which is a lot better than the 69% rate of darker haired players. Better recall Jonjo Shelvey.
Put some power behind it
There is only a 58% probability of scoring if your run-up is three steps or under.
Don’t put your laces through it
Hit the ball with the side foot and you are 10% more likely to score than if you pummel it with your laces first.
84% of penalties in the top corner go in. The highest percentage of any area.
Joe Hart will need to sway
Goalies are 18% more likely to save the ball if they move from side to side.