Once again, Channel Five fail League One and League Two with lack of coverage during international break – David Byrom

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Saturday was 2017’s Non-League Day, where fans use the international break as an opportunity to attend a game at their local non-league side.

It’s a great way for fans to get their football fix and bring in some much-needed attention to non-league football, and sometimes even bringing in extra revenue to clubs thanks to higher than usual attendances.

As with any international break, however, League One and League Two were the only two professional leagues in action and plenty of national media outlets used the lack of Premier League and Championship football to turn their attentions to the lower end of the EFL spectrum.

Exeter City featured well, with Paul Tisdale interviewed for the Daily Mail – even if their ‘sacked by the fans’ headline was grossly wrong – and also on Soccer Saturday, Sky Sports’ flagship Saturday afternoon football results show.

Sky also showed two matches from the EFL, one of the rare occasions that Leagues One and Two are shown live on TV.

Conspicuous by its absence, however, was any football on primetime Saturday night television. With no Match of the Day to compete with, Saturday represented a perfect chance for Channel Five to show they do care about Leagues One and Two, with their coverage having previously come in for criticism due to its clear Championship bias.

MOTD is a Saturday night staple and I’m sure plenty of would-be viewers would have tuned in to watch another form of club football had they been given a good opportunity to, especially with England’s dire form of football alienating fans at the moment and driving them further and further toward the club game.

Unfortunately, though, Channel Five failed Leagues One and Two again. Their EFL highlights came on at a later-than-usual time of 11.30 and lasted just 45 minutes, once again in its dreadful ‘Goal Rush’ format.

Obviously Five had live boxing to contend with as Andrew Selby took on Maximino Flores and it is understandable that live sport took precedence over a highlights show. Yet that does not explain why the football could not have been shown before the boxing, with the channel instead electing to show near-three hour film Where Eagles Dare.

By the time 11.30 rolled around, I doubt many would have been interested in Leagues One and Two. And those that would have been interested were treated to not much action, with hosts Colin Murray and Caroline Barker rattling through both leagues and mainly just showing the goals.

It’s incredibly patronising to think that goals are the only things that matter at this level of football and will do nothing to actually entice higher-level fans to watch – even during an international break, Five have elected to treat Leagues One and Two as nothing more than an afterthought to their coverage.

A lack of pundit is equally insulting – does the football at this level not warrant analysis? Former Grecians striker Clinton Morrison is a regular on the show and would have been able to give good insight on City as they returned to the summit of League Two, yet instead Murray had to sit opposite an empty sofa.

Clearly, though, Channel Five feels it is only the Championship that deserves that level of in-depth coverage.

Despite the fact they should be championing the EFL with their coverage, instead they have done nothing to dispel the misguided notion that some Premier League fans may have of it being low-quality football.

Murray is a Chester fan and did wonders to bring attention to lower-league and non-league football on his much-missed TalkSPORT show, whilst Barker is host of the Non-League Show, which used to air on BBC radio.

So the duo have a history of giving coverage to football that would not always get coverage – it’s a pity then that they are now fronting a programme that does no justice to Leagues One and Two.



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