FA Enacts Revenge on BBC's Lineker And Hansen

It’s been a week of highs and lows for the English Football Association. Mostly lows. Deep, dark lows with the demoralizing and embarrassing nil-nil draw for England against Israel, and the unconvincing 3-0 away win versus Andorra.
But there has been one high and that’s the TV contract that the FA signed with ITV and Setanta for the TV rights in the UK and Ireland to the FA Cup and England matches beginning August 2008.

Despite thus lucrative deal for the FA, word has leaked that the Association — specifically FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick — have been upset by the BBC’s critical analysis of England matches by BBC analysts Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker. According to one source inside the FA, they felt that the BBC’s reporting of England matches was “not as positive as it should be.”

The story is on today’s cover — yes cover — of The Independent newspaper (pictured above) with an article written by Chief Sports Writer James Lawton. David Bond of The Daily Telegraph also wrote an excellent article on the topic.

To me, though, it raises a bigger issue and that’s the nature of political correctness that appears in the game right now among broadcasters, commentators and pundits — and how much influence football associations and leagues currently have over the media and broadcasters.

It reminds me of the Old Boys Club where many of the people involved in the heart of the game are friends or don’t want to risk upsetting someone in case they’re unable to get another interview. Imagine if Ireland’s RTE had the TV rights to England matches? If the FA thought the BBC was harsh on England, consider what Eamon Dunphy would have said instead.

Of course, then there’s always politics and competitiveness. When the BBC premiered their Panorama programme last Autumn to expose the bung culture in football, it was the biggest sport story in the UK and was reported on worldwide. However, if you watched Sky Sports “Through The Night” programme that week, the story wasn’t featured as the lead story. Instead it was relegated to a couple of minutes later in the programme or not at all.

Even in a moment of glory as the Football Association secured a lucrative TV deal, the organization still managed to screw up. After all, the BBC and Sky paid hundreds of millions of pounds to land the TV rights to England in the past. Shouldn’t they have the right to be as impartial as possible and offer constructive criticism?


  1. Anonymous March 31, 2007
  2. Anonymous April 2, 2007

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