For anyone living in the northern two-thirds of the English North West Liverpool Football Club’s historic win (the first time they won the Premier League in thirty years) was perhaps a very happy occasion for any that supported the team…but predictably for the rest of the viewers of BBC North West Tonight was certain to lead to despondency about the absence of any local coverage of the area. The Isle of Man had no coverage either!
Roger Johnson (the main TV Presenter) was at Anfield, where the big event happened, so great a priority was this for BBC North West to cover Liverpool Football Club. Only five other items of news were squeezed into five minutes of the 27-minute long Regional News programme- and they all covered Greater Manchester! Ditto ITV Granada- Wall to wall coverage of Liverpool Football Club and their great win.
I would not want to rain on the parade of celebrating Liverpool Football fans- some celebrated and got together a bit too much and forgot about the precautions still in-place because Britain is still in a pandemic: There were huge crowds at Anfield! However, I would wager that even the majority of viewers of BBC North West Tonight in even in Merseyside alone did not expect (or want) the main regional nightly news bulletin to be 70% taken up with Liverpool Football Club. Football is a Sport- and by definition a past-time that millions of folk enjoy- but it is not news. Major football clubs are already covered on Sky Sports and other Sports- related TV Channels today- football fans can- and do- watch all the matches of Premier League football clubs on live television. So why impose 70% coverage of the fans’ reactions on viewers who want to find out about bread- and- butter and real- life issues across the North West?
Football does not put bread on the table (unless one is a professional football player). A major football win doesn’t confer financial security or major life improvements for the fans of the football club, nor will it guarantee health for life or protect you from harm. It does NOTHING for the homeless, for the abused child in a big bruising family or the lonely autistic man hounded by vile neighbours. Nor is it relevant to farmers in Cumbria!
So Regional News should keep most of its coverage on actual NEWS- events tragic or great that make a material difference to people’s lives. Unemployment, a national Pandemic in the Region, bad weather, road accidents, businesses going bust or new investment in the North West, shops being smashed up in riots, people winning the lottery….these are things that directly impact on people’s lives, their friends and families lives, on people’s finances and heath. Football matches as a rule do not do that- unless there is huge unrest and mass violence at a match: The one thing that can be said in defence of major league football teams winning in the North West is that it does- to some extent bring fans, football clubs attract higher advertising and there is a boost to the economy in the North West. On the flip-side of that, the huge cost for ordinary folk attending matches and season tickets (£869 for a single adult attending Liverpool Football Club for 2019-2020) would- to some extent- impoverish many families on low incomes.
People living in Lancashire and South Cumbria account for 1.5 million viewers. Sport takes away air-time on BBC North West Tonight that could give coverage of their area. There have been two murders in West Cumbria in the last few days and the good folk of Millom, in south-west Cumbria (who receive BBC North West output and no more than 35 miles from the site of both murders) might have been interested to know about this- but of course BBC North West just doesn’t do northern Cumbria, even though it is still part of North West England because it is beyond their “Patch”. There was also the matter of a 70 year-old man found dead in a remote location near Sedbergh , in the south-east of Cumbria (he went missing on Wednesday) and there has been the not-insignificant matter of a number of the lakes in the Lake District getting a poisonous green algae (and given the recent hot weather that is a public health issue that a number of tourists who have travelled from Manchester and Lancashire need to be informed of).
I am sorry to say but, even Liverpool Football Club’s big win (and it was without doubt a big win) does not trump warning potentially hundreds of people against the risk of being poisoned should they go for a dip in Lake Windermere (which is still inside the north of BBC North West’s “Patch”, as they might call it).