ITV & football: a joke, and not a funny one…no Chelsea exclusives allowed!

The look of love!

It’s safe to assume that the vast majority of football fans might not be too familiar with the name Alfred Harmsworth, who was the late 1st Viscount Northcliffe. However, following the shambles that unfolded on ITV last night, they’ll concur with one of Lord Northcliffe’s most famous quotes that “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

Those words, arguably ITV’s raison d’etre, must have been shouted down Gabriel Clarke’s ear last night as the ITV reporter was forced to curtail his interview with Jose Mourinho just as the Real Madrid coach was on the verge of announcing his intention to wave “adios” to the Spanish capital and swap paella for a Sunday roast in SW6.

ITV had arguably privileged access to what would potentially be one of, if not THE transfer scoop of the summer, yet it decided to sacrifice such a large exclusive to the altar of commercials.

Perversely, the decision makes perfect sense.

We are constantly told that football is now a business and has to be run as such, therefore who cares what the manager of one of Europe’s most prestigious team has to say when you could be spending the next three minutes of your life having your taste buds tantalised by a commercial for a new yoghurt?

ITV issued a statement – almost as swiftly as the microphone was pulled away from José Mourinho – which read:

“Our reporter Gabriel Clarke managed to land an unexpected interview with José Mourinho with only two minutes left before the end of last night’s Champions League programme on ITV.

At that stage it was too late to arrange an overrun of the broadcast beyond the allotted time. However, in a very tight, live situation, we showed as much as we possibly could of their exchange to viewers.”

The issue here, though, isn’t ITV’s decision to cut Mourinho short.

Nevermind the fact that ITV has set a precedent for missing crucial moments – such as Dan Gosling’s 118th minute winner in the 2009 FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Everton or Steven Gerrard’s goal against the USA at the 2010 World Cup – or that Andy Townsend spent around 75 minutes mistaking Jakub Blaszczykowski for Kevin Großkreutz…

The problem last night was what the public had to endure before and after Mourinho’s interview.

Adrian Chiles, Gareth Southgate and Lee Dixon are nobody’s idea of entertainment, let alone of quality punditry, while Roy Keane’s approach manages to draw a smile purely because one feels that the Irishman could physically attack one of his colleagues during the show.

ITV’s equation that former footballers make excellent pundits is flawed, not to mention the pedantic jokes the public is constantly subjected to by Chiles & Co. all of which leads to total disinterest for the viewers and, as we saw last night, for managers and players alike.

In his interview, Mourinho said one of the reason behind his intended return to England is the fact he’s loved by the media in this country. Presumably, the Special One had always wanted to feel what Adele experienced at last year’s Brit Awards when her speech was cut off by James Corden, and ITV duly obliged.

Can’t you feel the love already?

Is Mourinho going back to Chelsea or is Manchester City a more likely destination? Do you want the special one back in the Premier League? Tell us your thought below or better yet, get right in the mixer by getting involved on Twitter or Facebook

This entry was posted in Broadcasting, Champions League, Football Business, Managers, News. Bookmark the permalink.
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