• 6/27/2007 01:27:00 am
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones

How TV Changed Football Forever (Sky One)

We’d heard that Rupert Murdoch was interviewed as part of this, so it was hardly ever going to be completely subjective, but we’ve taken comfort in the fact that it’s made by Victor Lewis-Smith’s production company. As such, it’s exec produced by the dreadlocked scourge of rubbish television, so it should be worth watching, yeah? Yeah?

By way of answering this question, here’s a little picture we’ve Photoshopped during the ad breaks, which we feel sums up the programme quite comprehensively.

So, it’s the majestic, heroic and inspiring story of how Rupert Murdoch SAVED the sport of football. As you may well have forgotten, up until 1992, football was a sport only ever played by competing villages, with teams of 300 or more kicking a policeman from one village to another in order to win a league championship sponsored by a newspaper that wasn’t The Sun. Luckily, GLORIOUS BENEFACTOR AND FRIEND OF PUPPIES Rupert Murdoch donated £304m to the FA, so that football could be rescued for the people. As long as they’re willing to subscribe to Sky.

Using ‘How TV Changed Football Forever’ as our sole source, here’s a quick list of the ways in which football was inarguably worse before Sky made it, and by extension our lives, better:

Why football was worse before Sky:

Footballers were almost like normal people in the 1970s and 1980s, even having unfashionable hair and moustaches. This, clearly, would never do.

People were able to throw pint glasses filled with urine at Piers Morgan's head. Against all possible logic, this is somehow wrong.

It was much cheaper, but not covered in comfy seats, so was really bad. Luckily, Sky helped cover stadiums in shiny seats that cost a lot of money to sit in. As opposed to accommodating both options within the same massive stadium.

Sky stopped hooliganism. Not the European ban, not improved policing methods, not the Taylor report, not an overall social change. It was Sky.

Even the BBC's coverage of the Heysel disaster was shambolic, for heaven's sake! Where were the slow-motion replays?

The suits charged with running football were a bunch of incompetent yahoos back in the 1980s, operating in a small house which isn't even in London, it was in ‘the north’. As opposed to now, when the incompetent yahoos can afford plush offices in Soho.

Because some people liked snooker, as proved by a clip of Bill Bailey mentioning the sport in his act, everyone by association must have hated football. This is because of a little-known statute passed by the Heath administration in 1972 which dictated that every UK citizen was only allowed to like one sport each. Luckily, OUR MAJESTIC LEADER Rupert Murdoch campaigned to repeal it, and nowadays we are also allowed to enjoy America’s Cup Sailing and WWE Heat as well.

The Football League was crap. Look, here's an old photo of some Edwardians holding the trophy in the 19th Century! Haw haw haw! How shit they all are with their side partings and dignity!

All the camerawork from the 1980s was terrible ("as if it were being shot from France"), and there were never, ever any action replays! (Erm, no it wasn't, and yes there were).

Every single foreigner who had arrived in the Premiership since 1992 has been FANTASTIC (at this point you might like to mentally compose a clip of Albert Luque missing the ball and kicking himself up the wazoo, followed by a clip of Frank Worthington taking on six defenders a back-heeling it into the top corner from 35 yards).

Since Sky came along, footballers don't drink alcohol and more. No, they don't. Pre-1992, each and every footballer was a raging alcoholic, even the ones that weren’t Scottish.

Sky had finally rid the game of the working class scourge which had blighted it for so very long. Rah rah rah, we’ve gone and smashed the oiks!

Clubs falling out of the Premiership, thanks to Sky’s money, may very well find themselves in financial meltdown. Hurrah for Sky, for expunging mediocrity from the sport of the people!

Okay, okay. Sky’s coverage might have been a tiny bit rubbish at times, in the very early days, but it’s perfect now. PERFECT.

While Sky helped the Premiership cure cancer and solve world hunger, it has nothing to do with them that England still haven’t won anything, despite expending almost as much energy on endlessly promoting upcoming coverage of England’s must-win friendlies against Azerbaijan or Latvia . This is mainly because Sky aren’t allowed to show the World Cup finals, obviously. As soon as they’re allowed to show it, England will win it every four years without fail.

It wasn’t all bad. There were a few sort of good bits. Namely:

A clip of KYTV.

Talking heads included James Richardson, Steve Claridge, The Stelling and Barry Davies. Some of whom even dared to speak sense.


Oh yes, a vidiprinter effect at the bottom of the screen telling us who was talking.

However, there were also a lot of really especially bad bits:

The programme using the old (pre-1985) blue and white globe used to represent BBC-1 (with hyphen) in the early 1990s. If we knew Ofcom’s phone number and we weren’t endemically lazy, we’d be complaining about that right now.

Piers Morgan, Kelvin McKenzie, Rupert Murdoch, Richard Bacon, Keith Allen. If anyone reading this has a theory about it being possible to drop a bomb on a television programme and destroy the inhabitants of it, this could be a good place to start. And what’s with VLS’s obsession with employing Richard Bacon, anyway?

A claim that kids in schools in the 1980s were ashamed to play football. No they bloody weren’t! Well, unless you went to a really posh school, maybe.

Referring to but refusing to name "a right-wing tabloid newspaper not owned by Mister Murdoch". Oh, grow up for fuck's sake.

Mohammed El Fayed complaining about the wages footballers get. Erm, stop bloody paying it to them, then.

A gobshite from Five Live, who quite clearly wants to be the new Miff Daniels. We know, it’s a ghastly thought. “In the 1980s, if you admitted you were a football fan in polite company, it was as bad as saying you’re a racist.” Oh, get to fuck.

As an example of how footballers spend their stupidly large salaries on garish tat, Robbie Savage owning a second-hand fruit machine (a Monopoly one, if you’re taking notes). We know a few people who’ve bought a fruit machine to use in their house; we’ve even been tempted with the idea ourselves. It must be a Wrexham thing. We’re wondering if the one Robbie owns is the exact same one that used to be in Stevie’s Kebab House on Victoria Road.

Yet another person claiming that football videogames might possibly replace ‘proper’ football on television. Because football-based videogames have only just been invented. Oh, hang on.

The very idea that football only became popular since it all went to Sky is clearly an imagined one. Sky's largest audience for a football match is around the two million mark. The last big live league game on ITV - Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2 in 1989 - attracted an audience upwards of 10 million. Do the math. s.

We remember the late 1980s, when Granada used to show a football programme at 3pm on Saturdays where Elton Welsby kept the region updated with the latest scores from the top division. Sound familiar so far? As each goal was scored, however, instead of cutting to a former professional telling us what he’s looking at on a television screen we can almost-but-not-quite see, they would actually show us the goal being scored. Minutes after it was scored. For each match in the top division. It was excellent, and we were very much anticipating this new and genuinely useful advance in the coverage of our favourite sport. Even better, we didn’t have to pay an extra £192 per year for the privilege, either. And then Sky came along.

You remember at the start of this update we sarcastically mentioned how the programme was inspiring? Well, we have to admit that is in fact: true. Well, it’s inspired us to go with Setanta instead of Sky Sports for the start of next season, anyway. Ho.

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