Lorne St stand fans

Can the BBC Sport website stop treating lower league football as a joke?

Can the BBC Sport website stop treating lower league football as a joke?

OVF Editor Rob Fielding bemoans the lack of quality reporting on the BBC Sport website.

Rob Fielding writes…

It’s bad enough that BBC Radio and TV have inflicted the irritating Mark Clemmit as the “voice of the lower leagues” but it’s arguably an even worse scenario online.

Anyone browsing on the BBC Sport website’s League One and League Two sections may be forgiven for thinking that there is not much that’s serious in the bottom two divisions. Yes, there’s coverage of matches, team news and transfers but that sort of stuff is simply via a wire service from the Press Association.

The wire service apart, there’s a real lack of serious analysis in favour of these sort of “fun” features.

Compared to the Premier League section which offers…

  • Can Liverpool afford to let Countinho go
  • Ian Wright: Matic is last part of Mourniho jigsaw
  • Is Hart’s time as England number one over?

the lower fans have to put up with…

  • “New faces, pre-season tales and crazy kits”
  • “Five things you may have missed in the EFL this weekend”
  • “Mansfield’s Radford puts FA bid to music”
  • “Notts owner Hardy samples life as a reporter”

I think all reasonable supporters will realise that the Premier League is a bigger draw but surely some “proper” lower league features wouldn’t go amiss. Yes, there is a limit to the importance of football in everyone’s life but rather than treating things as a joke isn’t it time the BBC website undertook some proper lower league reporting? After all, it’s not like there aren’t proper issues that have affected people’s lives and finances.

Looking back at last season, the BBC barely brushed the surface of Millwall’s crisis where they stood to lose their stadium – surely a bigger issue than the jokey “have you heard about a match where there were three penalties” style reports the website currently runs? Luckily, the Guardian was on hand to expose a myriad of hidden deals and to ultimately cause the buy-out bid to fail.

Instead, the BBC seem to deal in lazy journalistic cliches. Their lead story on League One in April told fans that “on the day that people became horse racing experts for the day for the Grand National, nobody got off to as quick a start as Bristol Rovers.” In March, they similarly gave us the startling news that “it’s not easy being a football manager.” Gosh, who would have thought it!

It’s all a bit patronising and all the most astonishing considering the wealth of material that could be produced by a website that arguably has more resources than the rest of the newspaper websites combined. Not only that but the BBC has a multitude of local radio stations with their local club knowledge to call upon.

So, what about in-depth reports on crisis clubs – the likes of Charlton Athletic and Blackpool where fans and owner are in open conflict? Proper reporting would bring the issue(s) to a wider audience. What about a serious debate on the safe standing issue? Or agent fees? The controversial parachute payments? Or B-sides in the Football League Trophy?

Real lower league football fans are generally part of a family. We tend to know our stuff so we don’t really need patronising with “fun facts”, we also respect other fans who put the effort in to support their team and want to try and support those struggling club as well as explore any damaging issues to try and avoid them happening at our club.

I’m not trying to be a killjoy here – there is room for fun and humour – but I’m also sure most lower-league fans would be much more interested in proper, grown-up journalism then tired, lazy cliches such as “it’s not easy being a football manager.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ thirty three = forty two