THE long-term future of the Gubbometer, you will be delighted to learn, has been secured.
BBC Sport have announced that they have won the rights to show Premier League highlights until 2013. (The Guardian have announced that the BBC have paid £171million for the privilege, and that ITV didn’t bid.)
It means that Premier League fans can continue claiming that their team is always last on Match of the Day for another four-and-a-half years. I suppose everyone could have tried to carry on this fine sporting tradition if the highlights had ended up on ITV, or Five, or Bid Up TV, or whatever Men and Motors is called these days. But it wouldn’t have been the same.
BBC director of sport Roger Mosey wrote in his blog that he felt incredibly nervous while waiting to learn if the rights bid had been successful.
I guarantee he won’t have been anywhere near as nervous as the poor sod at BBC Scotland who – due to complicated scheduling reasons – had to switch live coverage of last night’s CIS Insurance Cup semi-final between Celtic and Dundee United from BBC Two to BBC One during the penalty shoot-out.
The shoot-out went on for so long – 24 kicks in total – that the match overran its slot, threatening to spill into Newsnight. Paxman would never have stood for that. So, as Glenn Loovens stepped up in ‘sudden death’ with the chance to fire Celtic into the final, the commentator yelled: “We’re switching over to BBC One!”
As Scottish football fans scrambled around for remote, the ensuing chaos in TV presentation must have transmitted itself to Loovens, who promptly missed the penalty. Four or five kicks later, Celtic reached the final anyway.
At least with highlights, you don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff.
Last night’s final match: Sunderland 1 Fulham 0
Reporter: Ivan Gaskell
In his blog, Mosey alluded to Match of the Day’s great tradition, the fact that it has become a part of the fabric of British culture, like tea, dry humour, queueing and CCTV cameras.
“So we’ll continue to tell the story of the Premier League for millions of fans – and for everyone who just sees Match Of The Day as part of the British weekend,” he wrote.
Seeing that tradition is a big part of the appeal of MOTD, it is perhaps apt that last night’s final match was Sunderland v Fulham – on last for the second successive season. (Last season’s game at the Stadium of Light finished 1-1, if you’ve forgotten. And if you want reminding, here’s what I wrote about it.)
Kenwyne Jones wasn’t the first player to be linked with a move to Tottenham this month. And Sunderland’s Ricky Sbragia wasn’t the first manager to get hot under the collar with Harry Redknapp after Spurs’ interest became public.
But it has all been sorted now. Jones signed a contract to stay at the Stadium of Light, and scored the winning goal on Tuesday night to push Sunderland up to the giddy heights of 12th. Despite this, both they an 11th-placed Fulham are still in a relegation battle. The Premier League table has never been more compact, or more intriguing.
MOTD’s decision to show all the Wednesday night games first, and all the Tuesday night matches at the end, gave Fulham the opportunity to re-establish a clear lead at the top of the Gubbometer.
So as Mosey celebrates tying up MOTD’s future until 2013, it seems as if the natural order has been cemented in more ways than one.
1. Fulham: 7 (GD: +1; CD: +1)
2. Middlesbrough: 6 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
3. Wigan: 5 (GD: 0; CD: +2)
4. West Brom: 5 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
5. Capello: 4 (GD: +1; CD: +4)
6=. Blackburn: 4 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
6=. Bolton: 4 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
8. Stoke: 3 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
9. West Ham: 2 (GD: 0; CD: +2)
10=. Newcastle: 2 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
10=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
12=. Gubba: 1 (GD: +1; CD: +1)
12=. Manchester City: 1 (GD: +1; CD +1)
14. Portsmouth: 1 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
15=. Arsenal: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
15=. Everton: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
15=. Hull: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
15=. Tottenham: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
19=. Aston Villa: 0
19=. Chelsea: 0
19=. Liverpool: 0
19=. Manchester United: 0
(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)