How broadcasters always screw up by ignoring what football means to the fans

By Tony Attwood

OK, if you are not a viewer of English TV or don’t listen to English radio you might not know who Adrian Chiles is, and this article mentions him a lot.  But stay with me, because this is not just about one TV presenter who has been sacked, but about almost all of them – and the way they treat us football fans.

But if you do know who he is, you might be interested to know that in recent years, despite earning £4.6million in 2013 alone he has

  • Been dropped from “Daybreak”
  • Run a Sunday night show that was scrapped after two runs
  • Suffered the indignity of having 42000 facebook sign a “get this muppet off the screen” petition
  • Dropped part way through contract by ITV.

Now in response to this last we have a piece in the Telegraph saying “ITV have made a mistake in letting Chiles go.”  Actually they haven’t “let him go” they have told him he is no longer needed.  They have kicked him out.

I bring this up on Untold because it is a perfect example of the media utterly failing to grasp the fundamental point that for us fans, football matters.  You think they might try harder, because it wastes them a lot of money and loses them a lot of viewers, but that’s how it is.  Football fans are stupid, and they know best what we want.

Now in an earlier article, which I have commented upon before, the Telegraph said, “As a presenter, Chiles divides opinion. Either you hate him, or you despise him,” and they went on to wonder why this is so.  And as I said last time, the fact that the Telegraph can wonder, without understanding, and the fact that stations like Radio 5, and ITV can keep employing him in any area within a million miles of football, shows how little they understand football supporters.

For without an understanding of football supporters broadcasters have no meaningful committed audience, so they might as well either just show the matches on TV without commentary, or pack up and go home.

I also mentioned last time around one of Chiles’ typical crass statements.  I mentioned it, but I think it deserves repeating.  He said, during Fulham v Sheffield United, “If you’re still watching, write in and we’ll send you a fiver each.”

In doping this he was utterly insulting the supporters of those clubs.  They may well have been fed up with the game, but HE WAS INSULTING THEIR TEAM.   I put it in caps because I can’t understand why neither he, nor other presenters who do the same, nor the directors, and others involved, got it then or get it now.

As always, the media refuses to ask the one single, most important question, “why?”  Instead they feign surprise that Chiles’ audience has slipped away saying that Chiles is “wry” and “sharp” and he “amused.”

Untold could have saved ITV all that money, and helped them retain their audience in the face of the BT Sprout onslaught, by explaining to them that for us genuine football supporters “football matters”.  To Chiles, as that stupid “fiver” comment showed, it doesn’t.  Or at least, on TV it seems not to.

I’ll give you another example.  There was a time when Chiles was leading the team watching an England pre-world-cup-disaster game in the US and the match was stopped by rain.  Instead of asking, “how come the FA organised a vital pre-world-cup match in a city known for sudden downpours at this time of year?” he said, “What is the technical difference between heavy rain and a downpour?”

I was on Roy Keane’s side when he said in response, “get me out of here”, but the media still talk up this moment as one of Chiles’ achievements.  No it wasn’t.  It was once again him treating us like morons.  We all knew the FA had screwed up yet again, and we wanted to know why.  (The answer as we found out later was that they were penny pinching – this was the cheapest stadium they could get, because no one else wanted to play there at that time of year because of the rain storms.  It was all about the cost of the monthly mortgage on Wembley).

The media now speak of Chiles irritating “a grumbly swathe of the public”.   So his failure is now our fault!!!

But in fact Chiles has gone from ITV for one simple reason.  No one liked the way he took the piss out of our sport.   We are treated as tiny children who can be given a sparkly toy and told to shut up. Chiles was disliked so much because he not only did that like everyone else, but he also revelled in the fact that he was treating us with contempt.

But despite this, the press go on and on about how “if he doesn’t return soon to our screens, we will miss him badly.”  No!  The rest of the media will miss him, because they too treat us with contempt.

We are, to them, little children who can be patted on the head.  Broadcasters can cut whole sections of football matches out because “time wasting” doesn’t fit with their image, and then never mention it in the hope that we won’t notice.  They can tell callers to phone ins that “it can’t be important because you are the only person talking about it”.  They try to tell us what to think and reveal in each other’s presentation.

Only on one occasion do I think that we have actually managed to make a difference to the media and that was with BT Sprout, who spent the Emirates Cup 2013 telling us that the idea of giving a point for a goal was too complex for anyone to understand and that Arsenal “have to drop the approach to getting a tournament winner.  We don’t understand it, and I am sure the fans don’t”.

Ho ho.  If the broadcasters don’t get it, then what is the chance of us poor little spectators understanding it?

If you recall, Untold protested strongly to Arsenal once it became clear that Arsenal had made BT Sprout their official media partner, and lo and behold one day before the first Emirates match of 2014, the whole tenor of the station changed.  It was an utterly amazing turnaround.

The fact is not that Chiles doesn’t understand football, nor that ITV didn’t understand football when they offered him the millions.  Nor that BT Sprout didn’t understand football.

It was that none of them ever bothers to try and understand hardcore football supporters.  The people who read about Arsenal every day.  Who get up in the early hours to follow a match on TV.  Who do 180 mile round trips to go to each and every home match.

They simply don’t get it.  Which is why they think Chiles is witty and droll and amusing and worth more than 50p an hour.

In fact the only people who seem to get it at all are the group who run Sky’s saturday afternoon show.  Geoff Stelling is highly knowledgeable, doesn’t insult fans, doesn’t reduce football to childish nonsense, and above all acts like a fan.  Watch him when Hartlepool United score.

Untold Arsenal – the anniversaries and other stuff

17 Replies to “How broadcasters always screw up by ignoring what football means to the fans”

  1. I actually turned over when Chiles was on. It did not matter who the other pundits were or how good they may have been I could not listen.

    Al Murray on Planet Rock does the same thing to me as well………

  2. Spot on.

    Please god when will we get matches with the option to turn off the annoying commentary and just watch with crowd noise…?

  3. Benglian,
    Sky did this a few years ago. However it seems to have been dropped from their offering. Probably because by filtering out hyperbolic commentary viewers aren’t susceptible to their ludicrous portrayal of each game as the most miraculous happening since the parting of the Red Sea.
    Anyone for a campaign to get rid of Redknapp Minor In the same way as Chiles? Redknapp makes Chiles look like Richard Dimbleby…..

  4. Strangely enough, before he got involved in the broadcasting of sport, one of the best known things about Chiles was that he was a big fan of WBA. He was pretty morise about being so and seemed to carry it as a burden but was ‘happy’ to wear his heart on his sleeve when it came to the Albion.
    Some bright spark thought that this qualified him for a job in football presentation and, unfortunately, this only served to prove that being ‘a fan’ and being able to string a few words together is not enough. Many more (including Messrs Savage and Redknapp) should be shown through the same (or BBC equivalent) door.
    But be mindful of what it might also say about being a fan and being qualified to comment about tactics or the way a club is run as a business.
    I respect Walters views on referees, not because he is an Arsenal fan, but because he is also a referee. I respect Tonys views on running businesses because that’s what he does for a living.
    Horses, as they say, for courses.

  5. What the hell is happening this weekend? I understand upsets once in a while but 4 in a single weekend? And ALL were home upsets. What the hell!

    Southampton 2 – 3 Crystal Palace
    Tottenham 1 – 2 Leicester
    Man City 0 – 2 Middlesborough
    Chelsea 2 – 4 Bradford

    I am getting a little worried about tomorrow…..but COME ON ARSENAL!!!

  6. When Bradford City were stuffed by Swansea at Wembley a couple of seasons ago in the League Cup Final the City fans stood and cheered and sang through the game. The same fans sang and cheered through the game today.

    Puts the Arsenal defeat at Valley Parade into perspective. Puts all that inflated Premiership twaddle into perspective.

    The greatest league in the world with the greatest pundit mass became the greatest bullshit thermometer. All those billions spent…..

  7. Off topic news….
    Just heard on radio Paulista is on his way to Arsenal with Campbell going the other way on loan. Medical to take place tomorrow.

  8. MOTD tonight was a much improved show – well hosted by Gabby Logan and with reasonable comments from the pundits.

    Gabby came across as a well organized (and seemingly fair) chair person – and is a lot better looking than the usual incumbent!!

  9. The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.
    (Malcom X)

    Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.
    (Voltaire, “Candide”)

    The greatest gift is to give people your enlightenment, to share it. It has to be the greatest.

    It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.

    The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when their tormentors suffer.
    (Laura Hillenbrand, “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption”)

  10. @Bootoomee
    Notice the positions in the PL of the clubs who are now out, i think it has a significant reason as to why those clubs are now out. As to Arsenal, i think our squad is now big enough to cope for the first time, but hey, nothing is ever as it seems(FA cup build up?) What we DO NOT WANT is a replay, this ties up our team even more.

    @Brickfields Gunners
    Anyway vengeance should be solely for the cause of justice, for the pain it’s best to find oneself a good sex partner, best one who is also in pain, for as long as the pain resides.


  11. @ rednwhitez – Lol I was just listening to Al Murray on Planet Rock. He’s ok but he did put Free’s All Right Now in his top 5 rock tunes of all time. It’s a great song but top 5! Probably wouldn’t get in my top 50.

    Anyway back to the football. Chiles leaves ITV and so does Andy Townsend as a co-commentator. Both dreadful.

    The BBC are struggling with their pundits, especially on MOTD 2 (Scott Sinclair and Joey Barton!). Sky are excellent by and large. Soccer Saturday on Sky is superb. I dont watch BT Sports.

  12. @ para – January 25, 2015 at 11:38 am – Bet you neighbours often wonder what you guys are really up to with all that racket!

    ” Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die .” Buddha.

    As for me , getting ‘them’ to choke to death while laughing at my jokes should do wonders for my karma !

  13. When watching games on TV I NEVER have the sound on. I prefer music instead. No commentator really “gets being a supporter” apart, strangely perhaps, from Gar Neville. When watching football at Emirates – do you need a constant jabber of mostly unrelated information, when you can see in front of you whats happening. Same on TV. You don’t need it. So turn them off.

  14. Just watched the Cup game and was astounded by the non-calls Oliver failed even to notice as fouls. The first Brighton goal was from a clear foul on Flamini which even a neophyte referee would have given. The tug on Giroud’s shirt was a clear foul in the area and the dive by one of Brighton’s players that merited a caution for simulation, as well as the clear handball by Bruno that should have been a penalty, were all very worrying from a so-called elite referee.
    Walter….I am seriously thinking of returning to officiating….as even in my worst games I never made that calibre of mistakes.
    I also noticed that the commentator excused all sorts of fouls and no0nsense by Brighton and seemed eager for them to cause an upset….Football pundits and commentators will end up in the 2nd circle of Dante’s Hell.

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