THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Thursday 5 February ~

Not a great night for ITV Sport, then. The channel was already under fire for its strikingly inept coverage of the FA Cup before the unscheduled ad break that deprived some viewers of seeing Everton's winning goal against Liverpool. There will of course be an inquiry with executive chairman Michael Grade promising "stringent and immediate procedures" to prevent it happening again, though his tone suggested that he'd prefer simply to line up everyone involved against a wall and throw water over them until they cry.

Extra time in sports events always presents a problem for the commercial networks that are reliant on advertising income and it seems likely that an individual technician will have to carry the can for pressing a button a couple of minutes too early. This glitch might seem to be unconnected to the broader criticisms of ITV's football presentation but they are part of the same problem. Half-time and post-match punditry on ITV is so often rushed and thoughtless because they have almost no time for conversation, a discovery that ultimately led to Des Lynam retiring from sports presenting not long after his much-publicised transfer from the BBC.

There could be a solution, however. In the early days of US television commercial breaks were sometimes incorporated within programmes. So a presenter of a sports show might pause during a discussion of that night's live boxing to extol the new brand of washing powder launched by the sponsors of the broadcast, with a packet of the new improved formula being produced from beneath his desk. Michael Grade, who is known to be a keen student of television history, ought to propose that this practice be revived.

The match commentary team could break off from their description of the game to tell viewers about some exciting new developments in the world of breath fresheners or underarm hygiene. We'd soon get used to hearing Jim Beglin or Andy Townsend inviting us to "successfully tackle the problem of unsightly nasal hair" and it would be a lot more informative than their regular match analysis. Everyone's a winner.

Comments (1)
Comment by Braindown 2009-02-06 15:43:58

Another idea for some mid-programme 'Stealth' advertising on ITV - perhaps someone should suggest that all ITV Sport presenters wear some kind of 'team kit' from now on - complete with company sponsors emblazoned across the front......they could wear shorts and boots as well.

Imagine Steve Ryder sitting in the studio in full footballers garb, he'd really look like a lower league physio about to dash on to the pitch ready to apply his magic sponge - the awkwardness of the situation would be something to truly savour...

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