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July 2021

A best loved and iconic brand. Or nauseating commentary and self-opinionated twaddle. MOTD continues

By Tony Attwood

If there was no Match of the Day there’d be no need for blogs like this.

Well, maybe not quite, but even so, when Untold appeared for the first time on 14 January 2008 with “Arsenal witness the end of football”, the way in which commentators were ignoring what seemed to me to be some key issues in the game was one of my key reasons for going to the trouble of setting all this up.

Looking back at that piece it really did set out the stall of Untold, commenting on the invention by Birmingham of rotational time wasting, to run alongside rotational fouling (of which Blackburn were cited as the main culprits).

Time has moved on.  I think no more than half a dozen people found that article (it’s still on line if you are interested in archive material, but it looks rather dull compared to the sort of material we get now) and now we are read by supporters of many different clubs – and have half a dozen regular writers contributing.

But Match of the Day seems stuck in a time warp.  Yet  the BBC have paid £179.7million to keep their rights for Match of the Day until 2016.

Gary Lineker said: “It is wonderful news that we have Match of the Day for another three years. It is a flagship programme and it shows how much the BBC values sport and the importance of football.”

BBC director of sport Barbara Slater said: “We’ve seen audiences for MOTD grow in recent years and the programme remains one of the BBC’s best loved and most iconic brands.”

Well, yes, it is valuable because if you are in the UK and choose Freeview or Freesat this is going to be a prime way to get the games – although you get more coverage through Arsenal’s on line channel.

But it is good that league football is on air. But, it is the horrible chit-chat those goes on around the matches that annoys me so much.  The obvious bias, the inadequacy of investigation into poor refereeing, the complete inability to question the difficulties facing football, and the insistence that the whole thing exists in a bubble unrelated to the rest of the world.

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Issues that many fans talk about simply are not issues on Match of the Day, unless they affect Tottenham and Liverpool, or for some other reason the producers unilaterally decide to let them in.

The only good thing about the show is that the presenters don’t actually realise how foolish they are making themselves look by ignoring key issues, and the constant inability of their experts to make any predictions or analyses that turn out to be right.  In fact they seem to revel in their inability to make any insightful comment.

All we can do I guess is to keep on going and raising issues that Match of the Day will never cover – like rotational fouling, rotational time wasting, how curious decisions by refs don’t “all balance out in the end”, how clubs like Chelsea and Man C are challenging Uefa over FFP, how their editing totally affects the reality of what is happening on the pitch (see Anne’s last articles about injuries that happen out of camera shot)…

It is not just a silly programme, it is a downright misleading one.


Who plays whom in next season’s Champions League

Untold Ref Review Swansea 1 Man C 0

Match fixing

The police move in a surprise dawn raid

How to Fix the Premier League in 10 Simple Steps

As I say, when we started a handful of people were kind enough to take a look at Untold.  Now we get over half a million visits a month.  MOTD is still more popular than Untold, but at least we are catching up.

60 comments to A best loved and iconic brand. Or nauseating commentary and self-opinionated twaddle. MOTD continues

  • Sebastian

    I completely agree! That Alan Hanson, what on earth does he actually know? If he knew anything, he’d be a manager. The bias towards Liverpool is shocking, and at the same time against Arsenal. We get slated for finishing 3rd, 19 points behind, but they dont say anything about LFC spending millions and being another 20 years away from winning the title. And being a season ticket holder you also realise the amount of key moments that they dont even know! bad fouls, possible penalites, never even shown if they could be in Arsenal’s favour! The only pundits they have which are any good to listen to are Dixon and Keown! and thats not because of Arsenal, its because they talk sence. Get that moron Lineker off too. MOTD2 is even worse, do not get me started on the prat that presents that.

  • Strum

    Be careful now lest you yourselves end up being one day labelled a “best loved and most iconic” blog…

  • Dan T

    They seriously need a big shake-up on that programme. They particularly need to get rid of Hanson. His bias for and against particular teams is clear for all to see and he still comments on matches as though the game is still governed by the laws of 20 years ago. And how Lawrenson has still got a job at all I will never know.

    The programme is stagnating and needs to move with the times. I do quite like Alan Shearer though. Perhaps because he is more recently out of the game so better understands the current rules. Also he winds up Alan Hanson which can only be a good thing.

  • Big Lebowski

    Has anyone noticed that the Morons (Hanson & lineker) have dropped the “They don’t like it up them” since De Jong tried to put his boot through someone’s chest in the World Cup

  • rantetta

    Don’t get me started!

  • Ian Jenkinson

    Match of the Day was a “must see” for me for years. I would wait all day for it and soak up every last bit of it. Now i never watch it live, i record it on Sky Plus and watch it later that night. The reason i do that is so i can fast forward the “punditry”. It is absolutely ridiculous how many incidents thy either miss or just don’t talk about. It’s actually embarrassing.

    And not only Arsenal incidents. The biggest one for me was on the last day of the season just gone when Jonathon Walters absolutely clattered into the Bolton keeper Bogdan, taking the ball out of his hands and scoring a goal that pretty much relegated Bolton. It was a stone wall foul and all it got on MOTD was a half hearted “it might have been seen as a free kick” from the pundits. I was stunned at how they could not elaborate on a decision like that considering it’s importance. And the penalty given against them was dodgy yet hardly anything was said.

    And they are forever having a go at Arsenal for where they finish in the league but when it’s their beloved ex teams (Spurs and Liverpool) they heap praise on them even though they have finished lower that Arsenal!

    Thank the lord for Sky Plus, that’s all i’ll say.

  • @Ian Jenkinson – I suspect it’s in the contract to show the match highlights that they can’t critisise referee desicions too much and/or the EPL have final say on what goes out… it’s the only thing I can think of to explain it.

  • nicky

    I can’t see what all the kerfuffle is about. If Arsenal aren’t live, we tune in to the highlights on Sky or BBC, absorb the game, ignore the commentary and the summing up, cup of Horlicks and bed.
    On the subject of off-the-ball incidents, I recall Paul Davis and his uppercut to a Southampton player and something similar later on from Van Persie (also against Southampton).
    I’m not suggesting we were or are a dirty side but we HAVE dished it out at times.
    Tony, I would like an explanation of the terms “rotational time wasting and fouling”. Do you mean the habit is organised to spread around a team?

  • Ian Jenkinson

    @ DogFace – you are most likely right, it’s such a shame we get fed such nonsense from these programmes. And Sebastian is right what he says about the amount of key moments not shown that you see when you are at a game. I know they have to show the goals and near misses but surely they need to focus a bit more on the nitty gritty. Is it not that which we football fans thrive on?

    Football banter between fans in work etc. during the week usually is spoken about games that were shown live that weekend, not MOTD highlights. Every incident is shown on a live game (obvioulsy because it is live!), it’s unedited and raw. Nothing can be hidden, although the pundits at half and full time seem fairly selective as to which incidents they discuss. But we have all seen the incidents.

    What comes out of MOTD is wishy washy drivel. A watered down “everything is rosy” version of events. And that is such a shame for such an iconic programme.

  • Mayor

    It just shows how much joke the MOTD has become. Even the media’s so infilterated to carry out their neffarious activities?

  • Brdgunner

    Shearer is a prick. He used to and still does attack arsene regularly about his views on the game. He once said that the phrase often used by Arsene (anti-football) was an attack on the game it’s self. Everyone has a view on how the game should be played. And when holland played Spain? It was anti-football. He is always had been and always will be a prick.

    The most biased and least knowledgable commentator in British football

  • bob

    “their experts to make any predictions or analyses that turn out to be right. In fact they seem to revel in their inability to make any insightful comment.” Yes, by definition they are a “reality TV show” Rumor has it that Snookey, whose talentlessness rivals Gary Lineker’s histrionics for yawn-effect, is being brought in from Jersey Shore here in order to provide a refreshing new Yank perspective. (What’s that? You think she’s not a footballer? 🙂 )

  • bob

    Tony, All,
    By avoiding refshite (calls, non-calls, etc.), MOTD serves a function which is to non-recognize fans’ complaints about PGMOL’s match-changing and tilt-a-pitch shenanigans. This makes any/all who accuse them of what they in fact do, game in and game out, into nutters, whingers, conspiracy theorists, girly men, and the whole litany of practised denial that shores up their cash cow. This is well understood inside the football factory and their ability to make entertainment out of being so wrong so often is a way to trivialize everything into a cesspool of despair. When the games come on the telly, it’s time to watch yer medicine. (Surely Steve Bell of the Guardian should feast on all this. Then again, the Manchester Guardian’s football department might well have veto power enough to muzzle any such sign of truth-seeking when it comes to football.)

  • SouthernGunner

    It’s a real shame that these idiots are involved in the programme, because there are some good sports presenters and pundits.

    I personally always liked Dan Walker of Football Focus, and think he’d do a much better job on MOTD than whats currently available. Just look at how well Manish Bhasin has done on the Football League Show since moving on from Football Focus. Lineker & his gang act like a bunch of immature sniggering kids, and their punditry is neither insightful nor informative (see Mark Lawrenson as exhibit A if any proof is needed). These guys had the audacity to go on tv, in front of millions of viewers, and praise Torres & Carrol for “the form in which they ended their season”, whilst at the same time lambasting Premier League Top Scorer/Golden Boot Winner/PLayer of the Season Robin van Persie for having a “barren spell” (he didn’t score for two games). Utter twats!

    Save some of our tv license money please BBC & get some new faces in.

    Maybe we should all write to Points of View while we’re at it! 😛

  • Limpar's Wand

    Well, I still prefer the BBC to all the other broadcasters. Sky is even worse; it is basically a televised version of the Mail, the Mirror and the Sun. The only thing soccer saturday is good for is making you want to punch someone in the face, even ex-Arsenal players. As for their live coverage, we all know it is dying a slow death as punters watch pirated streams on the internet for nothing. And frankly the less said about ESPN and ITV the better.

    Motd is pretty harmless really. Like anyone takes what those idiots have to say remotely seriously…

  • SouthernGunner

    For anyone not familiar with Alan Shearer, here’s him kicking Neil Lennon in the head in 1998:

    And here’s Neil Lennon talking about it years later:

  • Mike

    It seems pointless commenting since you’ve said it all with, “The obvious bias, the inadequacy of investigation into poor refereeing, the complete inability to question the difficulties facing football, and the insistence that the whole thing exists in a bubble unrelated to the rest of the world.” I also suspect that DogFace is correct in that those saps at the FA & EPL have a contractual hold on everything, hence moving the studio to Salford so they can be close to their favourite team.

  • Strum

    More than just MOTD, it is astonishing how biased and deliberately blind most of the English media has become. Leaving aside Spain and Italy, this isn’t generally the case in many of the Western European countries, nor in the United States (at least in sports, can’t say the same for politics)…

  • Goona Gal

    Who on earth were MoTD bidding against? I can only think of ITV? Sky already have the highlights and I bet the BBC were too scared to negotiate with BSKYB. Don’t get me wrong, I want the BBC to keep showing the football highlights, its just that I don’t think MoTD in it’s present form is value for money anymore.

    The new look studio is not compensation enough as the show still feels tired and the main anchor team makes the show feel staid and old. I find myself increasingly saying ‘utterly pointless’ or ‘let’s move on’ when opinions are being offered, which seem for the most part at least 15 years out of date. Not to mention the belittling of some managers and players for no reason, glossing over controversial aspects of a game and agenda driven analysis.

    I wouldn’t feel short changed if there was just a voice over leading into the different games, mini interviews with managers and players after the games and then the end music. I really don’t see why the license fee payer should be forced to watch the very smug Lineaker & co laugh at their increasingly irratating jokes and make cheap throw away comments, let alone pay them hamsomely for it. Getting rid of them would save a fortune, in just make up alone.

  • Mahdain

    the only way MOTD could sink lower than they are now is if they add Talksport`s own Adrian Durham to the show..he and Hansen would have an Arsenal hatefest all season long

  • Mahdain

    and while they are at it maybe they could ask Sky to borrow them Tony Gale for the airing days that would be something

  • Mick

    I see our favourite ex Gunner has been sticking his knife into the club who pay (some of) his wages again, this time savaging Theo Walcott. See…..

  • Mahdain

    i really dont understand and find it baffling how Arsenal still pay Stewart Robson`s wages..if we want to pay someone for speaking utter shit about our club then why not hire Adrian Durham? get Robson out

  • WalterBroeckx

    Oh where are the days of Jimmy Hill and MOTD?
    He could take it on the chin. 😉 I remember a great persiflage in a comical show once. 🙂

    But in those days I stayed up and made sure I was home when it started and kept looking till the last second. Now I record it and look later so I can fast forward between the games shown.

    What they show… well is biased. As I see all the games completely on my sports channel or on the internet I know how many dubious decisions are not given. And how they turn the game upside down sometimes when a visiting team has two shots on goal they will show them even if the fly in to the second tier of the Emirates.

  • Arun

    I have watched only 1 or 2 full episodes of MOTD in India but I have seen most of their Arsenal coverage. I don’t know much about them praising the totts or liverpool but they do suck when it comes to Arsenal.
    @Mahadain , there is one more step to sink lower: add Tommy Smyth from ESPN and then you will have it.

  • Mahdain

    haha Arun ofcourse how could i forget that self centered egotistical bald man? he just loves to hate on Arsenal

  • iniez

    Hmm, feeling left out of the loop..can’t say I’ve had a good look at MOTD but I feel it’s something I should see. Does anyone by any chance know if it’s possible to watch from canada/abroad? Can’t seem to figure it out for myself

  • Mick

    You can probably access MOTD via the BBC iplayer on your computer.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Alan Hansen is stuck in Mickey time in the late eighties, and motd now favour stoke for some reason, the pulis love in was embarrassing.
    Time to remove the bias but in the current format, no chance, they may as well have Adrian Durham presenting in terms of objectivity.

  • iniez

    Thanks for replying, I’ve actually tried before and it tells me that television shows can’t be played if you live outside the UK, only radio unless I’ve done something wrong I think tv shows on iplayer are uk exclusive (or atleast won’t play in canada)

  • bjtgooner

    There is no doubt MOTD has deteriorated as a program over the years and has lost ground to other networks – but one part of the show does remain supreme – the signature tune – I do enjoy listening to that before turning the sound off!

  • Goona Gal

    @ Mick, thanks for the link. Stuart Robson winds me up and he like John Cross should not be allowed anywhere Arsenal in an official capacity. I would rather they change the format by getting different people in to do analysis, maybe focussing on a particular part of the game like defense, attack or positional play like LB, GK, AM. Anything that stops Robson from having a platform and raised profile, from which he gets other work.

    As for his match commentaries, we could have amateurs, trainees, freelancers etc. There may even be other ex Arsenal players who could do a decent job and would jump at the chance. Stuart Robson’s Arsenal ties and history means nothing to him and if he has a contract he should be released, sacked or in the very least sidelined. He does not reflect our classly values and for the most part is just very grating. This should be the kind of thing AST could and should be useful for, but then you know…

  • Stuart

    I can only imagine the producers of MOTD are told not to allow too much criticism of the EPL and the Refs for fear of not being awarded the contract and the pundits knowing they are pretty much signing their own pay cheque at the BBC are only too happy to toe the line. At the end of the day, as long as they get the ratings, then it doesn’t matter what is shown or talked about.

  • Stuart

    Whilst on the subject of bad coverage, did anyone listen in to the Arsenal game coverage via the website for the last few games?? I sent in a stinking email complaining about how negative the commentators are towards Arsenal on Arsenals own fan site and haven’t listened to it since. Just wondering if anything had changed?

  • Mahdain

    @iniez i normally watch MOTD through this link and dont worry its spam free though the adds are really irritating

  • Mahdain

    or if i cba to stay up for it i just download the torrent on the next day and watch it..i just watch the football part and fast forward the punditry or mute it if im streaming it

  • Goona Gal

    I am not sure if people have seen this spoof clip, it cracked me up.

  • Goona Gal

    Right that didn’t work! I will stick to just links again.

  • Goona Gal

    This one is Hansen on the WC, but you could easily sub that for the kind of thing he will say during the Euro’s.

  • olly

    MOTD is so annoying as a Norwich fan. We get no air time or analysis. If we get something away at one of the big teams, it is because they have played poorly, not the fact we play well. I don’t watch it anymore, it just annoys me too much

  • Stuart


    I have noticed the same about Arsenal. If we win it’s because the other team were poor. No pleasing them lot!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Sorry a bit off topic but this shows how badly we were hit by injuries….ok I know utd come off worse here but they have an extra man at times. My point being, these things are not taken into account on motd, we are just,arsenal with a trophy drought.
    Goona gal, ref John cross, heard a radio interview where he said he implied he is very pro wenger, but the daily mirror editors suggest he write otherwise???…….you decide…..

  • olly

    It just annoys me that they give analysis to the first couple of games involving the bigger clubs but when they come to the end of the show they do no analysis on us. They say this everytime, “Paul Lambert is doing a fantastic job at Norwich, he has a real team spirit going there and they never give up.” Something like that must have been said like 25 times on MOTD this season! DO YOUR BLOODY JOBS AND ANALYSE US AS WELL!

  • rantetta

    bjt gooner:

    For you, Theme tune.

    I started writing a piece at 345 pm, but it went on and on and on. So I abandoned it.
    Now that I’ve looked back I have to say, Thanks Tony for the article, and thanks to all the replies here. It’s a relief to know I’m not on my own…

  • zedsaunt

    Hanson advertises for Morrison, Lineker advertises crisps. Go to Rotherham and the number of obese people of young age filling the streets is mind-numbing. Lineker still sells crisps.
    When it comes to the actual football smugness isn’t the word for it.

  • bob

    Hear ye, Hear ye,
    The Manchester Guardian Football Department are running a Master Class in “football journalism” Here’s the blurb:
    “In this intensive one-day masterclass, Guardian football reporter David Hytner and Guardian football blogger Jacob Steinberg will take you through the different aspects of the craft.” Now if you go to that webpage (whose link I do not provide unless there is a clamor for it), you’ll find a photo with none other than Wayne Rooney (with hair) sitting at a table with a UK Lions logo draped over it, facing his questioners (who are unseen). And THAT, my friends, is all you need to know about the art and craft of football journalism. In short: how to be a stenographer for all that ManUre and its mouthpieces spew forth. (Get in early because Hytner and Steinberg, two prominent Arsenal Bashers, will surely have lots to say on how to usher in next season’s most noble attempt to secure the Rednose XX.)

  • bob

    sorry to have missed one of your finest: here’s my reply:

  • rantetta

    Thanks. I’ve posted links to a couple of reviews. They may appear here following moderation.

  • iniez

    Thanks a lot, I think I might have streamed a match on that site before. If that doesn’t work I’ll look for a torrent. I really just want to see what everyone is talking about, like some morbid curiosity

  • nicky

    Re mine of 5.29pm on 29th, I asked for an explanation of “rotational fouling” and “time wasting”. Can you help, please?

  • Jacobite Gunner

    MOTD bias i remember is when rooney physically assaulted the wigan player last season and rooney only got a yellow. MOTD mildly commentated on it, if it happened in real life he would be charged for assault!

    I barely recognise Hansen as a scotsman anymore, he’s just embaressing.

  • Red-Man

    If you can, do.

    If you can’t, manage.

    If you can’t manage, become a pundit…

  • bjtgooner


    Many thanks – I enjoyed that – a very exciting tune – also a brilliant Samba!

  • goonergerry

    I do agree that it has a very tired format- involving ex players who the BBC has tried to turn into celebrities- and it only ever presents an ex players perspective. There is never a proper analysis- and it is biased towards the status quo in the English game- and is unashamedly ethno centric. Never analyses the causes of the national teams failings or can offer a way forward for the game in this country- supports the oligarchic ownership of clubs and the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor. When it comes to values these guys are always so predictably conservative- its not worth watching. To describe Lineker as superficial and lightweight is an understatement of the century.
    I remember Jimmy Hill and Lineker is not fit to lace his boots-lacks passion and understanding of the game.

  • bob

    From your description, it seems like there’s little difference between the actuality of MOTD broadcasts and the daily fare of The Sun. It’s pretty dismal to witness how much alike in values they both are. Is MOTD still the most watched football show in the UK? Are the rival football broadcasts pretty much the same content-wise/values-wise as you described MOTD?

  • Andrew Ryan


    Their oafish bovine reactions almost made me feel sorry for Joey Barton after his amusing escapades in the Man City match.

  • At least being one of the big sides, you do actually get some analysis and discussion (even if it’s mainly garbage), but us Norwich fans get virtually none of this, and if we do it’s tagged into a sentence where Swansea are mentioned as well!

    Hansen is past it and simply parrots the same things every week, Lawrenson is a joke and knows nothing about the modern game, Shearer is dull and obnoxious, and I’d happily wipe the smug grin off Lineker’s face 9 times out of 10.

    That being said, I do think Dixon has done well when called upon, as he usually talks complete sense and despite his Arsenal days, isn’t biased in his responses and analysis – plus he actually knows what he’s talking about.

    Keep MOTD, but bin off the usual suspects and get Dixon and a couple of others and it’ll already be 10 times better than the mess it is now…

  • @Indy_Bones – Despite playing for Arsenal – Lee Dixon is a big Man City fan… I’m pretty sure! And yes Shearer & co come across as dinosaurs championing the type of football that won England the world cup back in 66 – it’s no surprise that he [Shearer], the archetypal strapping English #9 still thinks there is life in 50 y/o tactics that were getting stale even way back then.

  • rantetta

    I’ve just seen your betwittered afcTrollBingo. Brilliant.

  • rantetta

    Dogface AfcTrollBingo:
    “He invited the tackle”. i.e. as Song deliberately, stupidly, and with malice aforethought – smashed his knee into Balotelli’s poor boot.