New York Times soccer columnist Jack Bell has written a column regarding how the sun has set on English soccer. But rather than use his column to focus on criticizing (deservedly so) the England national team, its tactics, Steve McClaren and the Football Association, Bell unbelievably decides to take some jabs at the Premier League and Fox Soccer Channel.
According to Bell, “The Fox Soccer Channel, an otherwise invaluable resource for live Premier League, Serie A and other leagues from around the world (not to mention Major League Soccer matches) compounds this problem. FSC, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, seems forever locked in an embrace of the Union Jack, obviously because Murdoch’s Sky Sports has the domestic rights to E.P.L. games.
So what do we get over here? Endless highlights of the English game, replete with announcers with English or Scottish accents, speaking in what they claim are soccer terms — pitch, kit, football, gaffer, brace, tapping up — but are really creeping Britishism.
For all its value, which is not to be underestimated or denigrated, FSC should be more, much more, to the game in North America. It is oh-so-easy to push a couple of buttons and dump highlights on viewers, that’s fine. Why can’t FSC ween itself from all things England and do a better job covering the sport in the United States?”
Since Jack Bell has a disdain for using British terms to describe different aspects of soccer, let’s use an English term that describes Bell and examine why the New York Times writer is a wanker:
First, there’s a massive reason why Fox Soccer Channel covers the Premier League (other than the vastly sum it pays for the TV rights each season). The quality of play in the league far surpasses Major League Soccer. The EPL is the most popular sports league in the world for a reason. It’s much more entertaining.
Second, Rupert Murdoch and his Sky Sports corporation does own some of the domestic TV rights to the Premier League in the United Kingdom, but that has no relevance why Fox Soccer Channel shows the matches in the States. Buying the TV rights in the United States to show the Premier League has nothing to do with England. Fox, even though they’re part of the same global corporation that Murdoch runs, has to win the U.S. rights fair and square.
Third, Fox Soccer Channel does an admirable job of covering Major League Soccer after paying a large sum of money this season for coverage of MLS matches.
Fourth, most Premier League matches are played in the morning hours or early afternoon during the midweek, so Fox Soccer Channel doesn’t favor Premier League coverage over Major League Soccer in terms of timeslots. What does Bell expect Fox to do on Saturday and Sunday mornings? Show reruns of Major League Soccer??
Bell later tries to make another point in his column by saying “The on-air personalities at FSC were as crestfallen over England’s elimination as the thousands of fans who trudged home from Wembley last Wednesday after the Croatia game. But FSC’s viewership is hardly composed exclusively of expatriates.”
True, expats are a sizeable and influential percentage of the Fox viewership but the majority are true-blooded American viewers. What Bell fails to realize however is that there are many Americans who watch Fox who support the England national team. Sure they want the United States to succeed too, but many of them feel an affinity to England after watching many of their rising stars since Fox started showing the Premier League in the late 90s.
Rather than criticizing the Fox Soccer Channel for its favoritism toward the Premier League over Major League Soccer, maybe Bell and The New York Times should focus on how they can improve their coverage of Major League Soccer? The New York Times has 28 different podcasts. Not one of them is focused on soccer.