SheWore Investigates: Bias in English Football
By KeenosAFC
Wednesday 31 Jul 2013 20:38:00
Browse all Reports articles
 

Tonight in the London Evening Standard, BT Sport announced their upcoming team of presenters and experts with a double front page advertisement. Taking over the Premier League coverage from ESPN, who performed poorly last year, I was very interested to see who they had selected as their expert pundits.

When I mention ESPN performing poorly, this was more due to game selection rather than their ability to provide sporting entertainment through the TV. An over obsession with Manchester United, whom they seemed to pick at every available opportunity peaked when they decided to screen the FA Cup game between Fulham and Manchester United, to then 1 week later, screen the Premier League game between Fulham and Manchester United.

The BT takeover excited me in the hope that, with them having '1st pick' they might finally challenge the dominance of BSKYB as well as providing less bias. How wrong I was.

On the front cover, they announce their football expert and football co-commentator. Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen respectively.

Turn to the back page, there are 3 more football experts. Owen Hargreaves. Steve McManaman. David James.

So BT Sports team of footballing experts consists of 3 former Liverpool players and 2 players Manchester United. So much for the potential for unbiased reporting. And this got me thinking. How much of the UK's footballing punditry is currently represented by the 2 North West Giants.

Sky Sports

Broadcast to millions throughout the world, Sky Sports' football coverage is second to none. It is innovative and insightful. However it is also bias.

Currently listed as 'main pundits' are:

Alan Smith (Arsenal)

Jamie Redknapp (Liverpool)

Graeme Souness (Liverpool)

Gary Neville (Manchester United)

Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)

Whilst BT might be 5 for 5 when it comes to footballing exper representatives for the North West, Sky Sports is not too far behind with 4 from 5.

BBC

Match of The Day has been around since 1964. Football highlights is one of the few things where someone does it better than Sky. BBC's FA Cup and International coverage on the other hand has left a lot to be desired for.And most of the blame can be attributed to the (lack of) pundit ability of Mark Lawrenson. As an institution paid for by the British License payer, surely they have a good spread of unbiased main pundits:

Alan Hansen (Liverpool)

Mark Lawrenson (Liverpool)

Alan Shearer (Newcastle)

Martin Keown (Arsenal)

Robbie Savage (Manchester United)

So the nations channel is not as biased as the paid for channels, but 3 from 5 brings us to 12 from 15 pundits having previously been on the books of Liverpool or Manchester United.

ITV

Roy Keane (Manchester United)

Lee Dixon (Arsenal)

Gareth Southgate (Aston Villa)

Andy Townsend (Aston Villa)

Whoever thought a TV channel would show bias to Aston Villa? Certainly not me.

So we finish our roundup of Bias TV media with 13 out of 16 football experts having links with England 2 biggest clubs. But what for the UK's only dedicated sport radio station?

TalkSport

Ray Houghton (Liverpool)

Micky Quinn (Liverpool fan)

Jason Cundy (Chelsea)

Alan Brazil (Manchester United)

Stan Collymore (Liverpool)

Sky Sports, BT Sport, ITV Sport, TalkSport. 4 different platforms. And the final breakdown:

Liverpool - 11

Manchester United - 6

Arsenal - 2

Aston Villa - 2

Newcastle - 1

Chelsea - 1

Media bias in football has been around for years. When the written press was king, and Fleet Street was its castle, the domination was held by West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur fans. It is one of the reason why both clubs did, and still do, get an easy ride in the press, whilst Arsenal have always had a rough ride. Former BBC Sports Editor and current Evening Standard Columnist Mihir Bose is a Spurs fan, reported season ticket holder.

Whilst last season, the profile of Arsenal within the media was raised massively by Mirror journalist John Cross - who you sometimes feel would've given his opinion on football on hospital radio, the dominance of Liverpool and Manchester United within the British media is worrying.

 

So if you want unbiased punditry on an English Premier League match, you are best off not watching or listening on an English platform.

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I was with you until you said Robbie Savage-Man United!! That's stretching it a bit far. I don't think he even made one senior appearance for them. There's no denying the anti-Arsenal bias in the media though. It's like they want us to fail. You can almost see the pundits grit their teeth when the supposedly 'poorest Wenger side' beats the Spuds 'best squad for years' to UCL qualification.
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The issue isn't bias, it's that most of the commentators are not very good. Gary Neville is great, but everyone else for Sky is horrible (aside from Carragher, because obviously no one has yet heard him commentate). McManaman isn't too biased of a commentator, he's just bad. Redknapp suffers from both bias and stupidity. TL;DR - Gary Neville is the only good commentator.
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