Keane. not Keen on Keys

Roy Keane this week was in the press following remarks made about BSkyB’s Premier League coverage, which will have resonated with a growing number of football fans for whom the gloss and glam of the Premier League era is starting to wear a little thin. The constant hyperbole of fairly standard footballing fare, and the (hitherto thought impossible) overdose of football were themes visited in ‘The Football Business’ by David Conn (a highly recommended read), and Keane is the latest to voice his concern at what he described as “People like Richard Keys trying to sell you something that’s not there”. And he has a point.

Sky, in their defence are a company, bound not to the traditions and well-being of English football, but to a ruthless overseer (James Murdoch, who took over the reigns from his more illustrious father) and a board of digit-dwelling shareholders. Sky always knew that suckers like you and me would keep on buying regardless of the price and regardless of the often fairly average displays. Rupert Murdoch himself described the demand for football in England as inelastic, so confident was he that the paying public were likely to pay whatever Sky demanded.

But the quality of the football on show is subjective, and Sky are happy to make a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage sound like the 1970 World Cup final, with Paul Konchesky cast as Carlos Alberto, and Clint Dempsey sliding butter-like into the Jairzinho role which he was so obviously born to play. They have a product to sell, and they have a vested interest in convincing you that is is the best money can buy.

The BBC, thanks to the frequently maligned license fee is under far less pressure to dissuade you from forming your own, perhaps even negative conclusion to the football it covers. Sadly, the football it covers is all too short in supply.

Channel Five, perhaps the most overlooked of all of our broadcasters has a refreshing approach which seems to be a deliberate response to the fake drama invented by its digital competitor. With little fan-fare, Colin Murray, Stanley Victor Collymore and Patrick Kevin Francis Michael Nevin present a reasoned, watchable overview of what is fairly standard, second-tier European football. It is a cold drink in the otherwise suffocating desert of football coverage on British television.

As money tightens in households up and down the country, and people are forced to mute the TV when Andy Gray waxes lyrical about a ten yard, sideways, Mamady Sidibe pass; maybe they’ll start to question with greater frequency the value of the opinion being offered by supposed experts of the game, who have clearly been polluted by fancy graphics and inflated wage packets.

The insipid punditry, designed to be as inoffensive as possible (lest one lose their invite to a golf game) is just another failure of the Murdoch mandated seven-day-a-week footballathon which continues to drive an ever widening stake between the elite of English football, and those who lie in its shadow.


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