The final day of the Premier League season can best be summed up by the five minutes of added time at Bramall Lane with Wigan Athletic leading 2-1 against Sheffield United.
For those of us who were on the EPL Talk Chat, we had the pleasure of hearing the passion and excitement from Jeff Stelling on the Gillette Soccer Saturday show from SkySports (thanks to Lemon, an EPL Talk fan). The commentary he provided to the listeners was classic, capturing all of the bravado from the match knowing that just one goal from Sheffield United would have been enough to keep the Blades up and send Wigan down. But it wasn’t meant to be. Peep peep peeeeep.
Wigan’s spectacular performance against Sheffield United coupled with West Ham’s gutsy defensive strategy versus Manchester United paid dividends for both clubs and ensured Premiership survival.
Fox Soccer Channel’s selection of Man United against West Ham for their final Premiership broadcast of the season was perfect. The match embodied more of a classic cup final than an EPL game. And what a brilliant piece of display, yet again, by Carlos Tevez as he drove through the Man United defence to score the decisive goal.
Over at Setanta Sports, it was a different story. The dull Portsmouth against Arsenal match was punctuated by a controversial disallowed goal by Pompey. The referee involved was Graham Poll. If the goal had been allowed, Portsmouth would have qualified for UEFA Cup football next season.
Here’s the kicker, though. The match that the majority of TV viewers wanted to see was only available to the fortunate few. Sheffield United against Wigan was shown on Setanta Xtra, which is only available to DirecTV customers. The rest of us, myself included, had to rely on live text commentary and radio announcements to follow what was happening in this crucial match. Unfortunately, Setanta dropped the ball on this one and should have flipflopped their choices by putting the Wigan game on its regular Setanta channel and the Pompey game on Setanta Xtra.
Maybe next season with the expanded Setanta Broadband, soccer fans stateside will be able to watch the Setanta Xtra feeds online. If so, I expect a huge line of supporters to sign up for the service.
Despite a very successful Premiership season with a last gasp relegation battle and a close finish for the top two clubs, significant changes need to happen for next season in the Premiership. The last few weeks have been a PR nightmare for the league due to its poor decisionmaking with the Tevez/Mascherano deals, how it handled the Tim Howard loan fiasco between Everton and Man United, and its lawsuit against YouTube.
The league is moving forward but there are many more aspects to fix. We’ll talk about that more in the coming weeks.