Belfast Telegraph

Football fans let down by terrestrial TV

By Jim Gracey

In this satellite and cyber obsessed age, it is easy to forget a vast swathe of earth dwellers.

The highlight of my 82-year-old dad's annual September trip to Spain is to see 'Linfield v Cliftonville live tonight' chalked up on the blackboard outside his 'local'. (He's a Blueman. I blame the parent).

Like many his vintage, brought up on local football, he'd rather watch Glentoran than Man United, doesn't have SKY at home and as for BBC Northern Ireland's Monday night Irish League highlights programme, only available on the Internet, don't even go there. He's just about worked out how to text.

So how happy will he be to see Cliftonville v Celtic in the Champions League live on 'ordinary' BBC from a sold-out Solitude on July 17? He and thousands like him will be glued in.

It's not just his ever-growing older generation who feel disenfrachised by the local football offering on the two local earth stations compared to the treatment they rightly afford other sports here, notably rugby, bikes and gaelic games.

Why can't there be similar for football's armchair following, especially on the Beeb who've forked out licence money for the rights, after all? If it's good enough for the new media platforms, why deprive the older, traditional audience on their preferred medium?

Reading the Internet forums, many younger fans would love to see even a snatch of local football on terrestrial TV.

So well done the Beeb for letting us all see the Reds v Celtic, but don't stop at the glamour games when you've quite literally got a licence to show more. If my da can get to see it for free in Spain, then why not here (where he doesn't pay either... on account of being a Blueman for 75 years)?

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