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26th Mar 2016

Is this the new face of football coverage in this country?

Nooruddean Choudry

‘Modern football is rubbish…’

It is something you read and hear all the time. The traditional fanbase grows increasingly dismayed as the national obsession becomes ever more sanitised of its natural vitality, tribalism and working-class roots.

Essentially the sport is moving further away from its origins as the ardent passion of the proletariat, to becoming a form of casual entertainment for the bourgeoisie. The game has gone; it is now gentrified.

But before long perhaps we’ll hark back to this day and age as being of a time when football was at least still a serious sport. Alas it seems that money and television are accelerating the Disney-fication process.

Next season will see the introduction of ‘Friday Night Football’, with Sky Sports televising twelve Premier League games on a Friday evening. And the feel of the coverage is expected to be very different indeed.

The Mail report that Sky are keen to maximise their £396m investment by ‘making the show more celebrity-driven’. That means actual football presenters replaced by stars of light entertainment.

National Television Awards 2012 - Press Room : News Photo

According to the report, the likes of James Corden, Vernon Kay and Holly Willoughby are being considered to front the brave new world of football coverage, to give it that distinctly…non-football feel.

Expect manufactured banter and contrived ‘fun’; a loathsome studio challenge or two that has the cast and crew guffawing on demand. And who can resist clueless special guests inanely discussing ‘the footie’.

Anyone who thought it was bad now may want to look away to avoid the result, because football is heading to a place that’s shiny, neon and utterly disposable. Less ‘Come on Chelsea’ and more Made In Chelsea.