THE BLOG

Football TV - Same Old Faces, Different Channel

03/05/2016 17:01

As I get older, no matter how hard I try not to become an old curmudgeon (I don't try hard enough really) there is an increasing wave of things that irritate me. Maybe irritate is too extreme a word - particularly in the example I'm going to be talking about here.

It's less irritation and more a sense of nostalgia for times seemingly lost. On this occasion what I'm talking about is football coverage. But this is not going to be a railing against the sub standard quality of speakers or analysis, because actually many aspects of pre and post match debate has vastly improved in recent years.

My problem is the lost identity for channels, as pundits and presenters appear across different broadcasters. What happened to the unique Saint & Greavsie model? We knew the programme was a bit rubbish. But we also knew it was on ITV. Now Fletch & Sav (surely one of football punditry's most annoying brands) appear on both the BBC and BT. Gary Lineker presents on both too. One minute Lineker is smuggly chatting to Alan Shearer on MOTD, the next he's trying to make sense of Owen Hargreaves' accent on BT.

In the good old days, you watched Des Lynam and knew where you were - watching the BBC. You were in safe hands. Well, until of course Lynam moved to ITV, when it just felt wrong. We still have some identity - with Ed Chamberlin's youthful charm and enthusiasm untested anywhere but Sky. And I like him more for knowing that's where he'll be.

Pundits too, seem easily transferable. Danny Murphy appears across 5 Live, Match of the Day and Talksport. I like Murphy, he's one of the best around, but there's only so many times he can analyse another woeful performance by Newcastle's defenders. Aren't there enough presenters or pundits to go round? Surely there are more ex players of mediocre achievement that we don't need double doses of Savage's pointless wittering?

I realise the number of channels has increased 100 fold since Saint & Greavsie's time but then we knew where we stood. Slightly rickerty and unpolished - maybe more working class - was the commercial model. The BBC was straighter and more reliable. Now I don't know where I stand and often what channel I'm watching. Maybe that's a sign of old age too, just like finding another thing to grumble about.

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