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A year ago I stopped watching football on TV. Nothing changed except I have more money.

by Tony Attwood

There were several reasons why I stopped watching football on TV: the cost of my subscriptions to Sky Sports and BT Sports was getting ludicrous, and my anger at the way Arsenal was portrayed by both media were enough, but when I took the step last August I did so in the recognition that I had already moved in the right direction anyway.

There was a time when, if an Arsenal match on TV clashed with a social engagement, I’d cry off the social.   Then I came to my senses.  OK, if it was a match for which I had a ticket (which meant all the Arsenal home games, as I have a season, and a small number of away games for which I bought a seat) then fair enough – I already had an event on that day for which I had paid.

But to sit at home and watch TV rather than be with my friends?  No, that was getting stupid.

However it went further than that.   I have spent hours on Untold, during its 10+ years on line, ranting and railing against the presentation of football on TV, and yet was I continuing not just to watch it, but also to pay the people against whom I railed, week after week, for their appalling bias and basic lack of football knowledge and insight.  That made no sense at all under a number of levels.

And it struck me that I was at a Fever Pitch moment – for in that jolly book there is a passage in which the author explores why he can’t bear to miss a single Arsenal match.  He wonders, Is it that he will come back after a week away and all the chants will have changed and he will be out of place?  Will those around him have forgotten who he was?

No of course not.  Supporting Arsenal had become, for him, an obsession.  The matches he went to as a season ticket holder were not part of his life, but the supreme meaning of his life.  Arsenal defined him.  He had nothing else.  And for me that is not right.

But yes in a sense, Arsenal defines me too.  I was born not too far from the ground at the Middlesex Hospital just off the North Circular, and lived my early years in a tiny north London flat off Devonshire Hill Lane – a couple of miles from both Highbury and Tottenham.  I was Arsenal because my dad was Arsenal.  He ran a garage and even had some of the players as customers for petrol and car repairs.  The folks in the flat downstairs were Tottenham.  We had banter.

Indeed some years back I wrote an article about living in that area: “Meandering down White Hart Lane” – as a result I got in touch with a number of people who I had known in my childhood – a wonderful and quite extraordinary experience.

So yes, I am Arsenal totally and unchangeably, but that doesn’t mean I have to watch every Arsenal match on TV stations that appear to think that knocking Arsenal endlessly and without proper insight and knowledge is the best way to get viewers.

Indeed I have redefined my priorities in other ways too.  The youngest of my three daughters now lives in Australia.  She is in a settled family relationship and so has stopped the expensive business of trotting back to England each year to see her sisters and parents.  So I go out to see her.

And because I rather like the sunshine of the summer, I go in the English winter, which is the Australian summer.  Which means I miss a few games.   Given the 11 hour time difference English league matches are not on Oz TV so I just pick up the results and comments from my friends who email me or exchange thoughts on Facebook – its https://www.facebook.com/TonyAttwoodofLondon if you want to be friends – but I must warn you, 90% of the time I explore the possibilities of the novel I am currently writing, so not everything (in fact not very much) is true.  A bit like TV really.

Yes I have watched a little bit of footie on TV – a couple of editions on Match of the Day where I wanted to see the Arsenal goals again, but since I went to most home games and the League Cup final, and since we were rather poor away from home last season, I guess I didn’t miss much.

Indeed I didn’t even go down the pub to watch matches.  I thought about it once or twice, but in the end thought, no, what’s the point?  The coverage is so biased, it really seems a needless thing to do.

So do I need football on TV?  It turns out not.  I haven’t watched the WC either – in fact I rather think there is a match of some description on now but I am sitting in the garden typing this.  I’m better off, saving money on the subscription, and I’m happier and outside.  It seems to have worked for me.

And also I had a lovely moment when I cancelled my BT Sport subscription.  The lady at the other end of the phone asked me why I was cancelling, and I said, “Because the coverage is so awful”.  That puzzled her, so she read out the options she had on her form.  I said, “No, it is because the coverage is so awful, and the fact that you don’t have that as an option for cancellation shows just how far BT Sport is removed from the reality of some of its subscribers.”

She said, “What is it that makes it so awful?”

I replied, “Have you ever listened to the commentators or seen the way the visuals are carefully edited?”

“So you feel the commentators are not fair?” she asked.

To which I replied, “No, I was asking you a question which you have just refused to answer.  And that is what BT Sport is all about.  That’s why I want to cancel.”

Now I shall look at the pine trees in my garden, swaying gently in the breeze while the carving of Louise taken from my favourite Bob Dylan song, looks back at me and think, “Better still I’m saving money.”

Time for an ice cream.  And a coffee.


If you feel the same way, you might like to glance at

And if that is not to your taste, try

27 comments to A year ago I stopped watching football on TV. Nothing changed except I have more money.

  • colario

    Yes, yes, yes. Why pay to be insulted by bubblegum commentators and pundits, all repeating the same idiotic and banal criticisms of the club we love.

    I am fortunate in that where I live my cable cost includes premier league games with local language commentary. Unfortunately not all games shown are Arsenal games.

    Although with the new season it might bring with it bad news for me and I find my cable company doesn’t have a Premier league contract
    .
    For cable TV i pay about 4 pounds in your money.

    On the downside I can’t get to the Ems .

  • porter

    One thing about watching in the pub is you can’t hear the commentators.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Totally agree with both of observations , Tony and colario . I don’t feel that there are any shortcomings in my enjoyment in life, by giving up on my local cable operator and in having stopped reading the newspaper .

    In fact I think I’ve saved quite a few brain cells by refraining from both. I find it hard to watch a full 90 minutes of any other team playing. Case in point the England vs Sweden match , which only got the occasional glance.Bore-ring !

    When my other subscription expires in Sept , I will look for an alternate source for the Arsenal games. Unless of course prices are drastically slashed , or I only pay for those games that feature Arsenal. At basement prices !

    In the meantime , keep up the good work of running this blog , Tony.

  • colario

    One game the world can watch for free is our friendly against Boreham Wood next Saturday 14th qt 3pm England time. It will be shown on Arsenal.com
    and it is free to view.

    “Boreham wood” to me it sounds like a good name for the new spud hole!

  • Gord

    I haven’t seen many games on TV in the last 2 (more?) years. Although I live in Canada, the twits the medja get to comment on games here are more or less the same as how you describe BT Sprot, Sky Sprot, Talk Shite, and whoever else. And to watch with the volume off, the medja still gets full value for selling their advertising, to continue to offer horrible coverage of Arsenal and/or Arsenal players.

    And this morning (it’s only 10:50am here), I am doing research on trees for hedges, not following WC.

    I heard on the radio, that Putin and septic bladder were doing high fives at some point. Probably something to do with brown paper bags.

  • nicky

    Tony,
    While you have every right not to watch our great Club on TV, I claim the right to comment on behalf of the lame, the infirm and the just plain old, who rely on Sky and BT Sport in order to watch their heroes perform.
    We will never visit the Ems,or see the team in the flesh, yet we will always vastly out-number those, like you, who are lucky to attend so many live matches.
    We envy you.
    Om the subject of poor commentaries, we do have access to the mute button, although I must confess, for many of us, dullness of hearing can be a useful gift.
    So please remember us when savaging the broadcasters. They are our life-line. 😉

  • Henry Root

    Understand your comments about Arsenal entirely but not watching England is a very strange decision. This country needs to come together to support the national team who are doin* admirably. It is history whoever is playing for the team. If you don’t like the commentators turn the sound down but they’ve been ok in this World Cup so far

  • Your conversation with the ‘lady at the other end’ is quite hilarious…

    I think the upcoming season promise to be better than the last so you should try to renew your subscription

  • Gooner Murphy

    Hi Nicky I appreciate that some people do rely on TV for the football , speaking as a former subscriber to BT & sky and as a person of age/ disability who could no longer travel to the Arsenal, I invested in TV subscriptions. However not now ; I can just cannot listen anymore to the consistent attack on Arsenal FC. IT never stops TV Radio News print ;there is something very wrong in the EPL and until its sorted I won’t pay to watch It .

  • But Henry, I also don’t like Fifa and its gross corruption, nor the fact that through the BBC License Fee I am helping fund them. I’m not stopping paying the Licence Fee but I can choose not to watch. It’s not a penalty against me – I have plenty of other good things to do.

  • blue

    I have my subscription paid in advance, not because I like the prices, but I hate to miss the matches and the commentaries. I like to hear other people’s points of view, I don’t consider them biased or forced (at least not as much as untold who I still read), I don’t think there’s a mind control chip placed in the pundits heads, even if there were what about those people who call in? Even if those guys too were being mind controlled, I trust my brain enough to make up my mind for myself. I read untold regularly, I read le Grove regularly, as well as many other arsenal blogs, I make up my mind for myself, but I have the benefit of also hearing what other fans think. I prefer to watch the matches in the stadium and in the pubs precisely for that reason, to be able to talk about the match/team with other arsenal fans as well as those of other clubs. My hobbies after all are “playing, watching and discussing football”
    PS: I’m yet to see praise for the England team on untold. You guys were singing every minute how England is coming home at first flight, don’t you think it’s only fair to not behave like those you criticize, and say you were wrong?

  • Blue I don’t think you’ve quite got the position taken – perhaps the unique position taken – by untold. Untold seeks to do what the name says – say the things about football that are not said anywhere else, and which I happen to think are legitimate points of view. For example, that Fifa is a corrupt organisation run primarily by crooks and hoodlums. And from that point I move on to believe that since the FA is funded in part by the British taxpayer, it should not be paying money into Fifa.

    There may have been people who commented on this site to the effect that England would be knocked out in the first round of matches – although I don’t think any of the writers did, and certainly that is not my view. My view is that tax payers in England should not be funding an organisation that itself pays money to a body that has been shown repeatedly to be corrupt at every level.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    There are many of us who don’t give a toss ; or even a rat’s ass , on who wins the WC . I for one wanted our players to come back early , healthy and mental ready for the new season. With spanking new players and a brand new manager to boot !

    For these reasons only (obviously) I wanted Danny Welbeck early. Now I fear for his mental health , as I have often heard quoted by players , that losing in the semi finals was truly heartbreaking and that it took a long time to recover.

    By the same token , I don’t give a shit about the mental well being of the players who will be progressing further in the tournament. Especially of those clubs who finished higher than us last season !

    The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. – George S. Patton

  • Gord

    OT: Corruption

    News out of Africa and FIFA, is that 11 referees have been banned (one for life) for corruption. How many corrupt officials are in other places?

  • U Know Who

    Go Gord, Brick, love it, do not renew your subscription, there are one or two reliable yet free means by which you may observe. When I eventually get around to deciding what to write in my firat article, I will add the details, not even trips to OZ can prevent your viewing pleasure.

  • Gooner S

    I stopped subscribing to Sky Sports in January 2015. I was made redundant and being of a certain age thought I would peg back my expenses immediately, just in case it took a while to get a another job. I’ve never had a BT Sports subscription because I didn’t want to pay twice for what I could once get in one subscription. I now content myself with Match of the day and BBC Radio. Of course my major outlay is still my season ticket. Due to timing more than anything else I retained that. So, like Tony I see most home games. I haven’t missed Sky at all. Funnily enough EE have started giving me free BT Sports on my mobile. I watch it occasionally.

  • blue

    Just like I said, that’s why I read you too. Talking in extremes, your outlook is all rose tinted concerning arsenal (probably gloom &doom concerning anything else) let Grove under Wenger was all doom &gloom concerning arsenal. I read both, I know the truth is somewhere in between, however I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy both points of view, especially the humor with which those views are expressed on le grove. I would gladly pay to not miss the banter. But then I guess as we age priorities change, outlooks change too.
    NB: I find it hard to accept your claim that you and other writers on untold haven’t expressed the views that England was coming back from the WC soonest. I brought that up to show u guys that its easy to say pundits predict things before the season starts and those things are not so at the end, easy when you don’t stick your neck out and make any prediction yourself. Instead of criticizing their preseason predictions, make yours too, and at seasons end let us compare who did better

  • Whatever you want to do in your life you just cant stop watching Football if you are true fan of Arsenal or any other team.
    Im broke i dont have money im trying to find a new job but that does’nt mean i should stop watching Football.
    im a die hard Arsenal fan i will watch every match till my last breath.

  • But we did make a series of predictions about England in the world cup and were rather pleased with the accuracy. Moreover we gave detailed reasons and statistical analysis as to why we were going for the results we did and the scores we did. I can understand you getting a bit pissed off with the fact that I was boasting about the accuracy of the predictions, but to miss the whole thing completely…. well I don’t know what else as a publisher I could have done.

  • blue

    I didn’t miss that. Its however a different thing to say before the tournament starts that you’re expecting a team home at first flight as usual, then later start doing predictions on individual upcoming matches. Like I said, take the pundits on, predict where arsenal will be come end of the season, BEFORE THE SEASON STARTS. No adjusting things as you go along

  • “Taking the pundits on” by doing what they do would not be untold – unless we could find a different way of doing it. And I can’t think of one. We’ve been doing it for years on a game by game basis, but I can’t find any methodology that makes any sense (other than guesswork and that is not a methodology).

    As we noted in one article, the Guardian did very well last season in getting Arsenal’s position at the end of the season spot on, but they didn’t predict the reasons Arsenal would end up sixth (other than obviously having fewer points than the five above).

    So, I can’t see the point. But if you want to write an article for Untold which makes the prediction and/or predictions for other clubs adn which explains the decision making process, please do write it and send it to me. I’ll publish it on the site. Tony@schools.co.uk

  • blue

    @Tony, I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m quite satisfied with the job the pundits are doing. They make predictions that don’t always come to pass but by and large they are accurate a good percentage of the time. But untold is always bashing them with the benefit of hindsight, which i think is cowardly. If you’re certain you can do better, by all means give it a go before the season starts.
    Also, the bashing of transfer stories I feel is unnecessary. So last season 3% of transfer rumors came true. However all 3 of those transfers were reported by the press before they happened, meaning 100% of the actual transfers were pre-reported, it just depends on your perspective.

  • blue

    http://www.goal.com/en/news/thats-not-the-real-ozil-wenger-reveals-why-arsenal-star/2qlyqw9acvo61j0aqn02hv39j

    Tony, are you going to say Wenger has joined the AAA and is now spreading negativity about arsenal? Or is Arsene Wenger like many other pundits before him just speaking the truth from their own perspective?

  • OK blue you see it that way. I think that is a curious use of statistics and not particularly valid.

    But clearly you don’t agree with what Untold does, and you have made your point, in a number of pieces. I can’t convince you otherwise. you are happy with the job the pundits do. you don’t think that the “bashing of the transfer stories” is needed. I feel it is. We’ve worked through all that. Since my arguments don’t convince you thus far, I think it is time to stop.

  • blue

    I totally agree

  • Sam Sayyed

    I ‘ve also more or less stopped paying for sports subscription for past two years. Couldn’t take the PGMOL’s cheating and the pundit’s bigotry.

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