Media blackout of Birmingham-Villa derby alerts Woodward and Bernstein to conspiracy
For many Sunday is a day of religion or rest. For others it’s a day of live football, or at least it usually is.
Thanks to the wonders of the Sky Sports hype-machine the tedium that some games usually attract are cast aside by a sea of excited whooshing graphics and Andy Gray shouting for no particular reason about nothing in particular, whilst using a lot of unnecessary graphics on his large touch-screen tablet.
With a subscription to both Sky Sports and ESPN burning a hole in my wallet, I settled in to watch the midday kick-off of the second city derby, in a game that I felt surely deserved attention from either of the media outlets.
Having failed to consult the TV listings due to my blind belief that a game held at midday on Sunday was prime fodder for one of the satellite channels, I was left disappointed to find that the best on offer was World’s Strongest Man.
As entertaining as it is to see vein-popping men throw tumble-dryers over bales of hay, it wasn’t what I had in mind.
My disappointment at missing out on the derby is not a new experience though, as I was greeted with the same problem two seasons ago, when Villa ran out 5-1 winners.
Without wishing to unnecessarily excite Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to the prospect of there being another conspiracy afoot, it does seem strange that it wasn’t televised, again.
Admittedly the game was played at lunchtime, so that over enthusiastic fans didn’t enjoy too many shandy’s prior to kick-off and cause trouble in the ground.
That though is surely no reason not to televise the game, as the same reasoning applies that fans wouldn’t be able to get lagered up, as the pubs don’t open until eleven.
On a day which saw lowly Liverpool’s visit to brave Bolton televised, it seems odd the importance of a local derby wasn’t elevated above this and shown by one of the many channels available.
The fact though that the game wasn’t even covered on national radio by the BBC was bizarre, as their two live sports channels instead preferred to offer mindless chit-chat and advertising features on upcoming events.
Perhaps then the second city derby is insignificant to the rest of the country and the BBC has no interest in providing a service that only a fraction of the nation will enjoy.
This idea seems to be contradicted though by the fact that BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty was present at the game and wrote a feature on the match and Villa manager Gerard Houllier’s tenure so far.
With no visuals available to enthral the masses, perhaps the BBC quite rightly took the view that Alan Green’s toxic tone would incite violence between the local rivals.
The seeming media blackout led me to the internet and a vain attempt to find a live stream of the game, but I had to settle with BBC West Midlands coverage of the game on the wireless.
With the benefit of hindsight it was probably a wise decision not to screen a game from which the highlight was a fan heading the ball back into play and falling over the advertising hoardings in the process.
However, Sunday’s game was an anomaly in what is usually a competitive, passionate and ultimately exciting fixture for keen observers of football.
It’s seems though that my visual encounter with the game will have to be provided by the football supplement in the newspapers, unless of course the blackout has continued beyond the weekend.Tags: Aston Villa, Birmingham City
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