Having been saved from much of England’s pitiful performance in the Ashes Tests due to Sky having the exclusive rights, millions of armchair sports fans are calling for similar arrangements for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
According to an on-line opinion poll, the viewing public are keen to be protected from the possibility of pain and anguish in the event of yet another pathetic capitulation by a national side on live TV, and would welcome coverage of it being restricted to the estimated 20% or so of viewers who are willing to shell out for a Sky Sports package.
Far from bemoaning the lack of live top quality sport accessible to everyone via BBC and ITV channels, the poll found that Sky’s exclusive ball-by-ball coverage of the Ashes series was very popular, especially amongst those who don’t have Sky. ‘Best decision I ever made was to stick with Freeview,’ wrote Bryan Wilkins of Bracknell in a typical entry. ‘Half an hour of Test highlights each day caused me more than enough suffering, but even with just that I was mesmerised. I couldn’t turn it off. Please don’t make me go through any of that again.’
Television bosses have subsequently been reviewing their World Cup broadcasting rights in light of the opinion poll results, with the BBC and Sky outbidding each other in their attempts not to show England’s forthcoming defeats at the hands of Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica and negotiations have reached a tense stand-off. It was only made worse when Sky became very protective of giving away alternative attractions such as the neutral tranquillity of a Honduras versus Ecuador game.
It is also understood that the BBC had lined up Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy to be a pundit once more but are now considering whether a dour, whinging, monotonic Yorkshireman slagging off the performance of his countrymen would be universally well-received. Geoffrey Boycott has been asked to investigate and will report back, in his own time, and at some length.