TREVOR BIRCH: The BBC’s decision to scrap the classified football results is a shame but hardly a surprise… they’ve been reducing coverage of the EFL for years now
- The BBC’s decision to scrap the classified football results is hardly a surprise
- The broadcasting company are clearly losing interest in their EFL coverage
- The BBC invest heavily in Premier League and Champions League programming
- They decided to get rid of the traditional reading of classified football results
On the opening weekend of the season, the Football League saw the highest aggregate attendance for 17 years with 450,000 people going to games across the country, showing that the popularity and demand for EFL action remains strong as ever.
So, set against that success, it was disappointing to learn this week that the BBC have opted to remove their iconic 5pm classified football results from Sports Report, as more Premier League coverage is added. The much-loved results service covers multiple divisions of our game and has been a staple for fans listening to domestic football coverage since the 1950s.
We know that local and national radio continues to be an important source of information for fans at home and attending matches.
The BBC said their position had not changed despite the pressure to reinstate the tradition
As reaction to the move has shown, the classified results have been one of the key components of our game’s heritage and offered a weekly window into the drama that unfolded across the top divisions up and down the land.
Of course, we understand there are more ways than ever to access full-time scores but, for the large radio audience that tunes in to the BBC, having the divisional results read in full offered a snapshot of the weekend — and exposure for our competitions which continue to attract one in four of all live sporting attendees in the UK.
As our public service broadcaster, it is frustrating that the BBC have overlooked the popularity and draw with this change. And while it is a shame, it does not come as a surprise.
For while the BBC’s online output continues to grow, it is evident that their appetite to cover EFL clubs and competitions on TV and radio is reducing — and has been for some time.
BBC are facing a backlash after axing their reading of the classified football results – with bosses saying the decision had been made to save on time
By contrast, we have seen the BBC invest heavily in Premier League and Champions League programming which will see clubs in Italy, France and across the continent benefit from licence feepayer money, while clubs in towns such as Ipswich, Fleetwood, Swindon and Barrow miss out, despite the fact that our club membership spans 72 different communities, with one of the largest league cumulative attendances in Europe.
With the EFL being one of the largest bodies of professional clubs in the world, it would be immensely beneficial to have greater support from our national broadcaster to help clubs outside the top flight, in one of the most difficult economic periods since the Second World War. They have the reach and scale to boost the public profile of our competitions which continue to offer great entertainment across the full spectrum of the BBC audience.
EFL competitions attract 20 million fans through the turnstiles each season and millions more follow at home. So it is fair to say that the league, the clubs and the towns and cities from which they take their name deserve to be in focus, even if it is only for a few short minutes at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon. The Premier League is of course a great success story and rightly should be lauded but so should the pyramid that sits underneath, providing the foundation upon which the competition is built.
Modernising and appealing to younger audiences is vitally important for all of us but, along the way, we should not forget those who have propped up the corporation and the game for decades.
EFL spokesperson stressed classified results are ‘an important feature of Saturday afternoons’
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