Tonight, BT Sport will air a documentary about our seven in a row.
I will be writing about it a little more later on, but for now I want to say that I am delighted they’ve done this. I wrote an article last year about the “dumbing down” for the TV audience that the broadcaster appeared to be engaged in, an article that was countered by another by Dave Campbell.
And I realised reading Dave’s piece that he was 100% right and that I was 100% wrong.
I wrote a piece shortly thereafter admitting that, and re-evaluating BT Sport’s coverage, and ever since I did I’ve been a fan. What I thought was dumbing down is actually respect for the audience. That might sound like a contradiction in terms, but it’s not. They know their audience and they pitch the show to the average fan by providing debate and discussion of the sort we’ve all had a hundred times in the pub. It’s not highbrow like Sky, but that’s the beauty of it.
I also realise that I over-estimated Sky.
Because their snooty attitude is all about covering England and Spain. They sneer at Scottish football. Their coverage – or lack thereof – is frankly disgraceful. The recent Celtic – Sevco ties got a short build-up and virtually nothing beyond the interviews at the end. We’re filler between crap EPL games.
They don’t even bother to disguise it terribly well.
BT Sport is different. They do get Scottish football. They do seem to care. Their coverage before and after games is detailed, and enjoyable. The debates on the show often give me articles and headlines. Sutton can be irritating and he’s occasionally talked sheer nonsense, but has a brain in his head and he speaks without fear. I may not always agree with what comes out of his mouth, but I know he doesn’t have some PR hand up his arse.
Michael Stewart is highly intelligent. I enjoy seeing him on. Kris Boyd can be unbearable, but watching Sutton slap him around is thrilling. They vary their panels. The cut and thrust is very good to watch. But above all else, you just feel that they get it, that they take it seriously.
They aren’t killing time with us, but actually engaging with our game.
This show tonight might not be something the Sevco fans will enjoy watching, or think should be on the telly in the first place, but too bad. What they cannot deny is that productions like this show a commitment to our national game which Sky simply cannot or will not match.
BT Sport does not sell us short. BT Sport does not talk us down. As Sky empties its coffers for English football the SFA stands to pick up only the crumbs; Ian Maxwell could do us all a big favour by telling them to keep those, and allow BT Sport to take the whole package.
Obviously, we will not give it away. We want some decent money for it. But in terms of what fans get for theirs, BT Sport runs the table. They are the where Scottish football belongs. They will give it a spotlight. They will give it respect.