A whole new ball game

thefa01LAST week, Major League Baseball’s season came to a disappointing, crushingly inevitable conclusion. If I’d wished – and were it not for the ensuing domestic chaos, I might have – I could’ve watched every single ball game on MLB.tv. That’s 2,430 regular season games live in HD and home comforts for the monthly fee of $19.95.

It’s a package which, by comparison, leaves Sky Sports’ paltry 92 live Premier League matches – even with Champions League, Football League, SPL and Carling Cup thrown in as well (plus whatever else they have knocking around) – looking like something from the stone age.

No wonder then, that in the wake of Setanta’s demise, the FA dipped their toes online; first for England’s defeat in the Ukraine and then for Saturday’s FA Cup first round clash between Oldham Athletic and Leeds United.

With half the sparse crowd at Boundary Park shushed by Jonny Howson’s first-half howitzer, the FA could do little about the fact it was an otherwise dreadful game. But by the time Mike Grella added a second, the admittedly colourful language of our boisterous travelling support had been silenced as well; seemingly by a member of the TV production crew.

If the streaming of this tie was the FA realising they’ve got a lot of catching up to do, then the decision to muffle the sound of those present beneath fake crowd noise was it swiftly exercising control over one of its “core brands” at the expense of its followers.

Whoever would resort to such crude artifice? Don’t the FA realise that we know more about how effects microphones work than most supporters? Would censorship have resulted had Leeds fans been fastidiously singing about “When we win the FA Cup (Sponsored by E.ON)…” ? In fact, in future why don’t they just dub that on themselves?

I would say you’ve just heard it here first, folks – if it hadn’t have been done already. Middlesbrough match commentaries on local radio regularly used to feature the apparent sound of the Riverside metronomically chanting the name of the local cable TV firm: “COMCAST TEESSIDE! COMCAST TEESSIDE!”. They weren’t of course, so let’s just consider this a warning. I’m allowed to say that on here, right?

Have your say...