TV WATCH THIS MONTH’S SCREEN REVIEW
Mario Wienerroither’s Musicless Musicvideo posts on YouTube are an instructive illustration of how performers become immediately ludicrous when the sound is turned off (as opposed to Laurence Fox, whose existence becomes absolutely reasonable when put on mute). So it is with football teams in fanless stadiums, the normal tidal backdrop of crowd reaction reduced to the panicky yelping of coaching staff and the occasional distress squeal of a player trying to get an opponent booked.
With the return of fans, though, we will lose forever the joy of the distinctly heard profanity from the bench, followed by the delightful ten-second silence in the commentary box before the mumbled apology. Daniel Mann’s example during Bournemouth v Brentford (Sky Sports, April ), “Apologies if you heard any swearing that offended you”, was a wonderful example of this new genre – a breezy, conditional apology, skilfully planting doubt that any swearing happened at all.
As the unattended season wears on, small details become preposterous, like a dream gradually revealing itself as such: Fulham’s Ola Aina inexplicably protecting his testicles while lying prone at the feet of his team’s defensive wall and facing his own goal, Jane Lewis straining to conduct a discussion over a rambling PA announcement before the Kilmarnock v St Mirren Scottish Cup quarter-final (BBC Scotland, April ), when she and her two pundits were the only people inside Rugby Park to hear it. At these times we may wonder if there is a reason we are being shown the squeaky absurdity of football played where there is no one present to care; that we should learn to rebuild our lives without the game as our emotional scratching post. Possibly taking advantage of our disorientation, the richest six English clubs took the opportunity to announce they had signed up to a European Super League. Response was immediate and uniform. Everyone
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had an opinion, even those who clearly did not have an opinion.
The One Show (BBC One, April ) led with the story. Co-presenting was Michael Ball, who, while presumably briefed on the programme’s first subject of debate, still had residual on his face the wild, confused look of a man who has farted himself awake in the cinema. Ball got through this difficult time by letting Alex Jones and guest Dan Walker do the talking. Walker spoiled a lucid contribution on football becoming mere content to be sold at the highest price, by asking the presenters on closing to choose which shirt he should wear for the next morning’s edition of BBC Breakfast, another unlovely example of the modern presenter’s steely determination to appear relaxed on screen. On Jeremy Vine (Channel , April ), Ann Widdecombe was given airtime on the matter, which is a bit like asking a mad horse to pick a colour for the spare bedroom. Jermaine Pennant, thankfully, came next and, while agreeing with the general view that an evil axis of power was trying to ruin football, added the polite codicil that it was a shame that this broad and passionate consensus was not replicated for the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Football Focus (BBC One, April ), David Dein appeared on a large screen to pass judgement on the Super League debacle. In a white shirt, in a bright white room, Dein resembled a serenely powerful pool hall magnate, someone you would trust with your life, until your life became uneconomical. From his Box Room of Cleansing, Dein described the Super League conspiracy as “immoral” and “abhorrent” and completely different from pushing through a Premier League in . He repeatedly advised that we should all “move on”, to “start the healing process” and it would be wrong to mete out any punishment because the six clubs are “a
NUMBERS GAME The figures behind the facts
172 £455m 2
The number of spectators currently being allowed in to each Swedish top-
Caps won by England’s record appearance holder Fara Williams,
who retired in April aged
Current debt held by Manchester United,
who were debt-free when the Glazers took over in
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