England 1 Setanta 0

by Dexy Longshot

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

We don’t want Setanta

So I’ve got to moan about something now. Fabio Capello…got it right. The defence…nah, they were OK. Midfield was solid and had the right width. Wayne Rooney? Yeah, he’ll do, he dropped too deep again. Doesn’t that boy listen? And Emile Heskey…well, you can moan about anything with Emile Heskey. England were, you have to admit, simply great.

The main cause for concern, you see, which was picked up on by the vocal hardies who ventured to Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium for the game against Andorra, was shady goings-on behind the scenes. Setanta Sports took terrestrial television to the brink with its high bargaining and dirtier tricks than the Croat’s second half antics. Not one of the four terrestrial groups could stump up the cash for the rights to show highlights of England’s emergence from the realms of crapness.

And so what of it. It’s England versus Croatia in the second group games of a qualifying group. Support and morale for the national team is at an all-time low since the days of Graham Taylor. Should we really be bothered we can’t see Theo Walcott’s remarkable arrival on to the world stage with his hat-trick?

Because of the lack of highlights, the need to see the game live was clear to see. I, along with fellow blogger Danny Brothers, filed in to one of Southampton’s finest sports bars midway through the first half (racing back from a 5-a-side clash up in Eastleigh) to catch the remainder of England’s victory. It was, for want of a better word, rammed. It was clear through Sentata’s antics that the pubs were the main winner tonight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case. The bar was four-deep with punters and the poor lasses behind the bar, only three of them, had a busy night to say the least. This pub couldn’t have foreseen the incredible popularity this game would attract because of Setanta, and I couldn’t help but feel that up and down the country, fellow fans had to wait for the best part of 20- 30 minutes to get their round in. Eventually, through the sheer frustration of it all, groups clubbed together and bought in bulk – rounds of a dozen, then a score, of pints were being ordered.

Worst of all is that Sentanta only make to gain from this. The pubs will have cast an eye over the intense popularity and will be hoping that Setanta will once again price Match of the Day et al out of the market. While I love nothing more than a strong atmosphere on a match day, not least for your country, having to stand in line and eyeball-out the bloke next to you for next service, casually smile at the bar girls without coming across too flirty, and all the while trying to watch a football match. And have to put up with Matt Smith talking over the ‘analysis’ at half time.

I happily pay my dues for Sky in my house, which has become a friendly and accessible subscription service in recent times. Setanta represents everything that’s excessive in football, designed for those who have so much disposable income that an extra tenner a month on top of the Sky Sports package really won’t go amiss if it means getting all the games the providers have mopped up after Murdoch’s choices. It’s a poor show from a provider who are still to settle in to the viewing patterns of football fans, in particular those in England, and I sincerely hope tonight isn’t a selfish precedent.

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  • Stevie

    it must be said Setanta is crap, I loved the way they were pitch side. Although I do like Chris Waddle, he speaks his mind.

    BBC need to stop being so tight and get those highlights back, although we always seem to lay rubbish when we are on the BBC, maybe Setanta are lucky for us?

  • Jamie Farrier

    I forgot to mention that Scotland and Wales viewers were lumbered with a similar bum deal, namely a pay-per-view showing of their nations’ games. Absolute disgrace and I sincerely hope it’s a one-off.

    I think it’s unfair to bash BBC for not stumping up, Setanta had priced the game right out of the market with a £1million price tag. All that the BBC could offer was £200,000 – which sounds just for an early-door international qualifier. Would you really be happy if the Beeb had shelled out a million for a two-hour long midweek show, even if it’s footy we’re talking about?

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I read in the Times this morning that UKTV Gold put in a last minute bid to screen the highlights, but all hell broke loose as Jonathan Greek & Last of the Summer fans wouldn’t miss the repeats of their favorite show!

  • tef1on

    Who funded Setanta? I know they started with irish football… then Golf… then blue square and premier league… now international… where has the money come from?

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    rumor has it Paul Setanta who owns it found a clock in his garage, he then took it to Christies sold it for 10 million then went to Vegas and put the lot on black, he won and the rest is history! Hence why black features heavily in all their branding

  • http://deathoffootball.blogspot.com The Sloper

    Setanta has grown beyond what it was meant to be. The original idea was to allow the Irish diaspora watch Irish sports, wherever they were in the world. I would guess they realised this wasn’t financially viable so took on more and more non-Irish sports to keep going, and we are now in the situation we are.

  • Martin Tibbetts

    The fact is that international sport should be available for free. I don’t and won’t have Sky, and certainly won’t entertain the thought of Setanta. I understand that the Premier League can sell its soul, in fact any league, but international football is not about money it is about the nation. It should be free to all to watch and it is a f**king disgrace that the FA have allowed it to be taken away from us. See also test cricket.

  • http://ppcf20reviews.blogspot.com/ Guiseppe

    Hello Guru, what entice you to post an article. This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

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