Unmissable: Will it be BBC1 and MOTD or Channel 5 for Town next year?
- Credit: sarah lucy brown
It was hardly unexpected news, but the announcement that Channel 5 had nabbed the rights to the Football League highlights went largely under the radar last week.
Never one to wish to see the Beeb lose any sports coverage – it generally does a top notch job with what little it has left – but maybe the move will be a winning result for fans and the League itself, which must have been getting fed up with the Saturday night graveyard shift platform its product was being granted.
Channel 5 will be putting the best of the action out in a 90-minute show starting at 9pm, meaning that rather than sitting though the Premier League’s best bits before getting to see the goals from the next three divisions via the Beeb’s Football League Show, fans of the 72 teams outside the top flight can get to enjoy their goals first for once.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for the Football League to work with a broadcaster that will schedule our matches in a prime time slot,” said Shaun Harvey, chief executive of The Football League.
“It will take our games to a wider, younger audience by giving us the chance to be first in front of fans on a Saturday night.”
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It’s fair to say that the post-Match of the Day slot is hardly viewer-friendly – especially for younger fans – and even in these days of iPlayer, Sky Go and other on-demand or recordable services, it’s always seemed like a bit of a disservice to what is some of the most exciting football in the world, if not the best quality at times.
With Championship, League One, League Two, Capital One Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy action now set for a more prominent airtime, it could help highlight some of the talent on show outside the mega-money top division.
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In future, the rise of Bournemouth might prove less of a surprise to casual observers of football and the decreasing gap in quality between the bottom of the Premier League and the top of the Championship will become more apparent.
So will Ipswich Town be on BBC1 or Channel 5 every Saturday night in the coming season? Who knows, but in about a fortnight Blues fans will be able to start planning.
The deal runs for the next three seasons and it will be interesting to see what sort of a presenting team 5 put together.
Currently the Football League Show is anchored by the calm and capable Manish Bhasin, ably assisted by the likes of Steve Claridge and Leroy Rosenior.
The extra time their later time slot allows is well spent editing down the action and carrying out as quick an analysis as possible for those in front of the camera, helping them to navigate so many games and talking points.
The new 5 interpretation could well be more reliant on showing the goals than critiquing the day’s events in too much detail - after all, that’s not much time to whittle down the best bits from 30+ matches.
This leaves 5 with the Football League highlights, BBC1 with Premier League and FA Cup action and ITV with... not a lot.
What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter, @Elliot_Furniss