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questions, Tim Lovejoy is the football fan Sepp Blatter has been waiting for. Roman Abramovich’s darling young one. Not least for his complacency: his lack of understanding ofhow football works (and doesn’t work) is best illustrated in a section called “Give Your Chairman A Break”,in which he defends “that Thai bloke at Man City”, and implores us to “look at the Glazers... you would have thought they were nothing but a bunch of Americans intent on buying the club and selling off Old Trafford to Tesco judging by the howl of protests from the fans. Within two seasons though, they had won the title and built a squad the envy of Europe.”Bang your head off the wall at such unreviewable stupidity-Tim's infantile ideas of shunning “negativity”prod him into precisely the kind of thinking that has had such hugely negative influence on the game. “Look across our national team”

- he means England, by the way - “and there isn’t one player who wouldn’t walk into any side in Europe... why is it, before every tournament, we start believing we’re overrated?”

And, surprise: Lovejoy is as wretched a starfucker as could be inferred from his television shows. Everyone in football is Tim’s mate (and here we have pictures to prove it, stars looking confused in his grinning, over-familiar presence, frozen by an arm around the shoulders). He’ll “even watch the occasional game of rugby now, because I’m friends with a lot of the players like Will Greenwood, Matt Dawson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Austin Healy”.

It’s perhaps telling that among the many anecdotes offered here, the most heartwarming (and least surprising) involves Tim getting clattered hard by Neil Ruddock in a charity game; even in this version of the story, there’s nothing to suggest Razor meant it affectionately. Still, our man is blinded by quite astonishing hubris, reprinting a photo of a banner at ^ Anfield reading “LOVEJOY SUCKS BIG § FAT COCKS" with a glee that is nothing S' like self-deprecation. “The hardest thing | about leaving Soccer AM,” he says regret| fully, “is the thought that I might no longer § be influencing the game.”True, it’ll be 3 tough. But who knows? Perhaps the game will struggle on.

It’s not that there was ever a time when football on telly wasn’t in the hands of dimwits, poseurs and blowhards. It’s not that Lovejoy is significantly more objectionable than TV shits of ages past. The point

— is, in his own mind and

QVEJOY t'iat t'ie p°wers t^at oncnnTDti i be-he’sone of us-He rUU HALL is us Savour that.God help us.

On October 7’s Match ofthe Day 2, over ashot ofthe Fulham chairman choosing awinning competition entry at Craven Cottage with the helpofGabby Logan, Cary Linekerquipped: “And Mohamed Al Fayed had his hand in Cabby’s bucket-she only asked him for adance...” Now, ifyou take the crassness of that joke, stretch the briefwondering silence that followed it to half an hour, then imagine ateam of media creatives tryingand failingto fall off a log... whatyou have there is anear approximation of The Fanbanta Football Show.

By “real football fans”,

C h a n n e l 4 seem s to m e a n p eople w ho w i l l be e n te r ta in e d by m a terial c le a r ly thrown together in ten m in u te s by

On the Channel 4 website, Fanbanta is described as a“heady mix of comedy, celebrity guests, music, real football fans, rants, opinions, gags and the best fan-made videos and pictures”. This list, presumably written in an attemptto attract viewers, has the effect ofencouraging all right-thinking people to consider leaving the city to dwell in a cave while waiting for the waters to rise. Those whose interest is pricked by these words, those who have been lured into stayingup until five-past midnight on aTuesday to witness a feast of entertainment, easily got the programme they deserve.

a n g ry m is a n th ropists employing apair offalse legs to apparently fire the numbered balls from her groin. Mace began the programme following England's defeat in Russia dressed in German folk costume, his “joke” beingthat he will henceforward support asuccessful team that knows howto take penalties. He then did afunny German dance. Mace then had to remain in lederhosen and feathered cap for the rest ofthe half-hour, like a naughty boy who’s been told to sit in his bad joke.

Fanbanta is presented from apretend pub, The Fanbanta Arms, by Joe Mace and Kirsten O’Brien. Joe Mace is precisely the kind of person who turns upon aChannel 4 list programme about 100 Best Cameos in Friends and outstays his welcome very early. Kirsten O’Brien could well have been aBlue Peter presenter if she hadn’t met the Devil at the crossroads, who traded for her soul the gift of filling silences with realistic laughter. The two of ______________________ them, with the aid of contributions by Phil Cornwell, Kevin Day and astudio guest, gamely try to delude ten people seated nearby into believing they are enjoying themselves in apub. Mace’spromise that“afterthebreak, aSwedish woman throws up live on air” and thefactthat Simon Jordan was theguestofhonour on one showare all you need to knowaboutthecontent.

When you direct an entertainment at acrowd, ratherthan at individuals within it, only the most instantly recognisable references, the broadest and mostvisual humour will work. Exceptthey don’t work here. The makers of Fanbanta go forthe lowest common denominator, and they miss. By “real football fans”,Channel 4 seems to


mean people who will be entertained by material clearly thrown together in ten minutes byangry misanthropists. Ifyou’reaiminga show at real fans, how about writing acouple of real jokes, rehearsing them with aproper comedian and locatingthem in an actual pub? justan idea.

Cleverly, the pre-publicity forthe show neverusestheword “funny”.Reading“Fans react to hearing Graeme Souness is not interested in the Bolton job” over footage of fireworks is the first draft of afirst draft of ajoke. Cornwell in awig saying “spoon” in afunny foreign voice does not disguise the factthat asketch about Uri Geller willing Israel to beat Russia would be improved by the inclusion ofwit, apoint, or even agood impression. Apropos ofnothing, a Thai Cup draw, featuringteams “Ladyboy United” and “Gender Swap Warehouse” had O’Brien

Programming Error Channel 4 has produced some landmark television down the years

Lovejoy onFootball ispublished by Century at£i6.c,g but they don’t have a good record w ith football. Their latest attempt is probably the worst yet as Cameron Carter reports


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