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TV Gaff Leaves Brit Fans Goalless, Speechless

  • Guardian, Thursday, February 5, 2009 1:46 PM
Years ago, supercilious British soccer fans loved to laugh at the fact that television coverage of games in the United States would be interrupted for commercial breaks. To Brits, such vandalism was sacreligious, and to lose even a few seconds of action was deemed as craven kowtowing to financial interests. Let's fast forward a few decades to last night's coverage of Everton against Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round, beamed live to the English public by ITV -- the broadcaster that this season controversially took over coverage of the Cup from the BBC, which had done much to restore the ailing competition's prestige in the public eye.
With 118 minutes played of the replay, and the game tied at 0-0, the channel cut to a pre-scheduled, half-minute commercial break. In those 30 seconds, Dan Gosling scored a very handy winning goal for Everton. Millions of TV viewers missed it, with coverage only restored in time for them to see the Everton players celebrating in a pile.
Stopped laughing yet? No, me neither. "And apologies if you missed seeing that decisive goal live," was studio anchor Steve Rider's only remark after the game on the fact that, after two hours of no scoring, his company had missed the game's sole goal. The feeble excuse issued much later was that it was down to technical difficulties beyond ITV's control. It had no such problems last year following the second round game between Histon and Leeds United, when a live shot of the jubilant but scantily clad Histon locker room showed, in the Guardian's words, "a tackle too far." Still, at least British viewers didn't get a dose of Club Jenna.

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