When Chris Foy’s final whistle reverbarated around Villa Park in May and Newcastle United were relagated to the Coca-Cola Championship, Toon fans would have been forgiven for fearing their club was beginning to fade into footballing obscurity.
Luckily for them – and frustratingly for others – there is very little chance of that now happening, with the producers of the BBC’s ‘Football League Show’ apparently insistant on giving Newcastle disproportanate coverage at every opportunity.
Newcastle’s first game in English football’s second tier at West Brom, for example, was always going to be a big draw; and there can be few complaints that this was chosen as the first of 10 live games shown on the BBC.
But then, where is the logic in then making this the featured match later that night, and giving extended coverage to a game that had already been shown earlier that day? Therefore relegating the thrilling South Yorkshire derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, to a couple of minutes highlights which hardly gave adequate coverage to Barnsley’s fighting comeback to clinch a draw.
The following week, when their 3-0 victory over Reading was only marginally more entertaining than the BBC switching to a film of a woman on the toilet during the League Two round up, guess which game attracted the most coverage? You guessed it; Newcastle v Reading.
There can be bo doubt that Newcastle United are the Championship’s big draw this season; but can it really be fair that the only realistic chance a club such as Scunthorpe or Peterborough has of being the featured match is when they play Newcastle? I’m quite sure that the TV Licence fee is the same in Scunthorpe as it is in Newcastle, so where is the equality there?
The BBC’s remit as a public service states it’s intention “to bring audiences from disparate communities together to share significant events in the life of the UK. The BBC’s coverage of sport in particular has a key role here.”
It would be interesting to know who decides that a 1-1 draw between Newcastle and West Brom is more significant than Cardiff’s 4-0 opening day victory over Scunthorpe, which was their first outing at their new stadium?
Newcastle’s impressive, unbeaten start has consolidated my early-season opinion that they will walk all over the Championship and be back in the top flight last season. But a more conservative prediction is that if the BBC producers continue to favour Newcastle United over the league’s 23 other clubs, then they may find that their viewing figures are solely restricted to a demographic in the North East..
The Football League has long been hailed as the working man’s version of the Premier League – where ‘real’ football, at least what can be construed as such in these modern times, still exists. With choices like these, however, it seems that these views are fading fast.
Oh, and by the way, live football next returns to the BBC on September 26 when Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town will play.. er, do I even need to say?