Media

Liam Brady recently caused a stir on Irish TV, jumping to the defence of Arsène Wenger, but ultimately creating a rift in the studio, writes Paul Doyle

An amusing side-effect of Arsenal’s devotion to playing football “the right way” is that they tend to equate defeats with defacing the Mona Lisa. There is something in the righteous grieving of Arsène Wenger that implies we should all mourn with him when the Gunners are downed – as if sport itself, not just his team, has come up short. The last thing anyone associated with Arsenal wants at such sombre moments is for some mischievous boor to break his arse laughing. Last month on RTE, then, Liam Brady was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These are changing times for Match of the Day, with the BBC struggling to hold on to TV rights but launching a new mag for kids with a design so busy you contract motion sickness if you even glance at its cover. Roger Titford compares this and other titles aimed at boys with those of his youth

My eyes hurt. I’ve sustained an industrial injury through reading Shoot, Match! and Match of the Day magazine in less than 90 minutes. It’s the visual equivalent of downing two litres of fizzy blue pop and half a dozen Boost bars. Yes, suddenly and unexpectedly the boys’ football weekly magazine market has burst back into life, with the three titles all competing at the £1.80 mark.

The BBC so was so keen to snap up the rights for Formula One that it seems to have forgotten about the football, writes Paul Hopwood

The music’s stopped and the latest round of “Pass the Rights” has ground to a halt. So, who has grabbed the chairs – and who’s left looking faintly ridiculous around the edge of the room? Well, we already knew that live Premier League fixtures would be shown, for two more seasons, by a combination of Sky and Setanta, with the BBC left with Saturday’s smug Match of the Day and an altogether more watchable edition on Sunday.

“...but first, the classified football results, with James Alexander Gordon.” Generations have hung on every word of Sports Report, but Csaba Abrahall  believes that the BBC is squandering its heritage

The BBC, never slow to congratulate itself on its sport coverage, devoted two hours of air time in early January to a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Sports Report, the Saturday evening results and review show currently residing on Five Live. But among the procession of presenters and personalities wheeled out to reminisce about crowding round a wireless, body tingling at the evocative theme music, there was little discussion about the challenge to the programme posed by the changing nature of the football weekend – a largely television-driven challenge that the old radio stalwart is struggling to meet.

Setanta’s Conference coverage has been surprisingly refreshing – more so than the station’s attempts to reinvent the wheel when it comes to sports news and the Premier League, believes Josh Widdicombe

If ITV Digital taught us one thing, it is that lower-league football is less popular with television audiences than a knitted monkey. So, like a team about to sign Nigel Quashie, you might think that someone should have warned Setanta of the mistakes of the past before they splashed out on 79 games from the Blue Square Premier (aka the Conference) to supplement their Premier League coverage.

The rapid growth of internet sites seemingly beyond the reach of the Premier League’s lawyers is allowing fans the chance to watch their team live online. Martin del Palacio Langer goes surfing

Last May, the Premier League sued YouTube for “having knowingly misappropriated its intellectual property by encouraging footage to be viewed on its site”. The case has not yet been resolved but, as a result of the lawsuit, images of recent matches have disappeared from the site, which now actively tracks and eliminates any videos even remotely related to what is occurring in English stadiums. However, this measure has not meant that football fans around the world have lost their only opportunity of watching the best moments of their favourite matches online. The fall of the popular Google video page gave way to the rise of other sites with even more effective systems, which present highlights online minutes after a game has ended.

Non-League crowd-pullers FC United played Curzon Ashton in front of empty stands in late December, after the game was moved so it could be shown live on the internet. Michael Whalley reports

First came the Manchester United boycott. Now the FC United fans who stayed away from Old Trafford as a result of the Malcolm Glazer takeover have boycotted their new team, too. On December 29, FC’s board and all but a handful of their supporters stayed away from their side’s 2-0 victory at Curzon Ashton in the Unibond League First Division North. The reason? A dispute over the league’s decision to move the kick-off time forward from 3pm to 12.45pm, so that the match could be shown live on the internet.

December 16’s match-ups of the “Big Four” sent Sky’s publicity machine into overdrive. After six hours of Keys, Gray and Redknapp, the only thing Barney Ronay wanted to slam anywhere was the remote control

Like many other irresistible global happenings, it all started with something very small. The tectonic tremor that would eventually lead to the towering tsunami of Grand Slam Sunday was the announcement of the Premier League fixture list in June. As in 2006-07, the supposedly random computer selection had presented us with two weekends when the top tier’s “Big Four” would play each other. Clearly, this has started happening rather more often than it should. Not surprising, then, that despite the boundless advertising budget, the limitless man-hours developed to styling, tweaking and generally buffing-up, the most recent edition of this gala televised soccer extravaganza should end up looking a lot like the last time we all did this.

Alan Brazil has another book out. Taylor Parkes is not impressed

These are frightening times. With politics now driven by personality not policy, and the media fixated on folk devils rather than facts, it can be hard to make sense of the world.

Helen Chamberlain’s former sidekick has celebrated leaving Soccer AM for 6.06 with a book. Taylor Parkes wants to know why anyone – anyone – thought it was a good idea to expose the presenter’s ego and prejudices across 288 smugly written pages

Soccer AM is a bad memory: hungover mornings in other people’s flats, disturbed by a crew of whooping simpletons, the slurping of pro and ex-pro rectums, cobbled-together comedy that made me long for the glory days of Skinner and Baddiel’s old shit. Yet Tim Lovejoy himself, with his fashionably receding hair and voice oddly reminiscent of Rod Hull’s, I remember only as an averagely blokey TV presenter – in fact, one of the few averagely blokey TV presenters to make me clack my tongue in irritation, rather than buff my Gurkha knife. Other than as a namesake of The Simpsons’ self-serving man of the cloth, he barely registered; just a bland, blond ringmaster in a cocky circus of crap. Almost a surprise, then, to find that his new book is not just ­tedious in the extreme, it is utterly vile.

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday