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ITV - The Real Losers Of The FA Cup

Monday 30th January 2012
First of all let me start this article by saying I love football. Regardless of league, status and quality I love watching the ‘beautiful game' - even when it's not so beautiful. If there's football on the television, you can guarantee that I'll be watching.

That was, up until this weekend.

I know fans from all teams have complained about this before, and I know we will continue to do this without any change, but ITV's coverage of football is absolutely shocking.

I'll start with the commentators. The inane witterings the ITV commentators come out with are almost laughable. Rather than adding to the atmosphere of the game, or bringing an extra insight into what is happening on the pitch, the ITV commentators have you rolling your eyes and reaching for the obvious. There's stating the obvious and then there's ITV.

I understand it must be difficult to commentate for television – when viewers can see what is going on it must be hard to find something extra to bring to the experience. But the lack of knowledge and the irrelevant comments have a tendency to make my blood boil.

Twitter exploded when ITV failed to get the commentary running at the start of the Peterborough vs Sunderland match, in the FA Cup Third Round. People weren't tweeting their complaints however, instead most seemed to enjoy the experience of being able to watch the game while hearing the crowd – after all, you don't have commentators when you're actually at the ground.

So on Sunday I found myself turning off the television and instead choosing to listen to the football on the radio. I found myself getting much more involved and excited about the game than I had been watching ITV's dreary (or should that be (Peter) Drury!) coverage.

I could start on the pundits – but maybe it is to be expected that ITV simply can't attract the calibre of pundits that the BBC does, due to the irregularity of their football coverage. Plus, I'm writing this on my lunch break and if I complain about everything that I dislike about the coverage we could be here a while.

So without further ado, I'll get cracking on my main gripe – the highlights programme. Now I admit I'm slightly biased towards Birmingham City when I raise this point, but I know that fans of many other lower league clubs feel the same. Why oh why do ITV insist on showing such extended highlights of the ‘big' teams, even when the games are quite frankly a bit of a snooze fest.

Birmingham City scored four goals away from home this weekend and how long did we get on the ITV highlights show? 55 seconds. Advertisers had longer than we did. Before someone points it out, I know they choose the matches they are going to show most of prior to them taking place so I'm not expecting ITV to predict which games will be exciting. I'd simply like them to use some common sense. If a game is being screened live on TV then most football fans will have either watched it, or if they can't watch it and particularly want to, they will have recorded it. We do not therefore need to see half an hour of highlights of games we've already seen.

Furthermore, the games that ITV chose to focus on this weekend were ties featuring two Premier League sides. Something that we get to see week in, week out on Match of the Day. Part of the magic of the FA Cup is that all teams are competing at the same level - for 90 minutes every team has as much chance as the next to progress.

Rather than pampering to the well off clubs in the Premier League that get aired every week, why not use the programme as a chance to highlight lower league football? Just because the players are not on sky high wages, it does not mean that there is any less chance of fantastic goals and controversial incidents – and in fact you would actually get to see more passion from screening lower league highlights, as it tends to mean more to both players and fans. Yes we love to see the skill and talent of top class players, but the FA Cup is about the agony, the ecstasy, about possibility, hope and that 'what if.'

Rather than trying (and failing) to copy Match of the Day (I shudder when I remember the short lived ‘The Premiership'), I'd love to see ITV use the opportunity to really showcase the magic of the FA Cup. They could give thousands of lower league teams the chance to see their beloved team perform on TV, and show others that there is life outside of the Premier League.

Oh, and I've not even mentioned the advert breaks…
Charlotte Parker

Total articles: 12

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