BBC Scotland’s hesitancy to match the SPFL’s asking price for the rights to live radio coverage and TV and online highlights could encourage clubs to walk away from the negotiating table.
While Radio Scotland, on the whole, does a fine job of covering our national game, the same cannot be said for Sportscene, the weekly highlights programme which is something of an institution.
It has had its critics this year, with Dundee manager Paul Hartley describing the programme as “garbage”. Former Hearts and Hibs assistant manager Billy Brown was also scathing of the standard of punditry.
Unfortunately, for viewers who demand better, and unfortunately for the clubs as a whole, every problem can be traced back to one thing – money. Or the lack of.
Sportscene has been guilty of basic errors in graphics, highlights packages that miss key incidents and rushed analysis that doesn’t offer much insight. All of this would be improved with more funding. It would allow them to double and triple-check every graphic, to have a team poring over the action from every top flight game, so they could not only put together a highlights package that appropriately squeezes in all the action, but also enables them to pick out interesting tactical insights that the pundits could use and expand upon.
Does Tim Sherwood rock up to the Match of the Day studio having watched every Saturday game in order to analyse it? Of course not. While pundits do prepare their own analyses, they are also fed information by those who work in the background to make sure nothing is missed.
Sportscene doesn’t have this. The funding allotted to BBC Scotland doesn’t allow it. After all, the BBC pays less for its Scottish football coverage than Gary Lineker’s annual salary for presenting Match of the Day. So why would this change in the future if they are balking at SPFL’s demands for £3-4 million for the season?
The Beeb is getting a sweet deal as it is, yet is still penny pinching when it comes to the finished product. Can we really expect anything else if it is forced to pay an extra £2 million per annum?
Sportscene is supposed to highlight the best of Scottish football. Instead, the poor quality reflects badly on our game. It makes a product that already struggles look even worse.
Unless the BBC takes Scottish football more seriously and starts putting real cash into the game then our clubs should tell them “thanks, but no thanks”.