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Roker Ramble: Too much of a good thing?

Too much football on TV, the new reality for Fantasy Football, commentating - where’s the signage for the deaf? Liverpool’s throw-in coach, and more... it’s The Roker Ramble.

Irish supporters watch the Merseyside derby from a Drive In Theatre in Dublin
And you thought you’d miss the second half by going to Tesco’s...
Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Hail Peeps - I never thought I’d say this but there’s just too much footie on TV.

I mean between the Euro/World Cup rewinds, live FA Cup games and Premier League on every night you could pretty much binge-watch footie non-stop.

I’ll be honest, it hasn’t affected my commitment to ‘Warrior Nun’ on Netflix, but the unrelenting volume of games does mean that the individual impact of specific events is diluted in the great scheme of things and it just feels like an ungainly rush to ‘get it done’ before we move onto something else.

AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - Premier League - Vitality Stadium
Socks and sandals - always a classic look.......
Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

It’s like the Christmas schedule where the later games of last week’s fixtures get mixed up with the early games of the next, and you lose track of who’s where and what’s what.

In our previous lives the football week was structured, there was time to reflect, to assess, to place events within the greater context before moving on. Nowadays I just assume there are matches on every day, but the importance and significance of individual fixtures is pretty much lost on me.

It doesn’t help of course that I don’t really care what happens to most of these teams. Sorry - any of these teams. When your own team isn’t involved in anything but its own self-destruction, the live broadcast of Crystal Palace against Burnley on a Tuesday night pales into justified insignificance.

However, where the eat, sleep, rave, repeat never-ending barrage of footie really has an impact is on the fantasy football teams, which now require a level of commitment and application that takes it way beyond the casual interest you thought you were signing up to.

My own indulgence is a syndicate at work which just predicts the outcome of games - simple, laid back, bit of money involved to spice it up a little – I missed one night’s fixtures and dropped fifteen places in the league. It felt like boarding a long haul flight only to find out you were sitting next to Dominic Cummings.

I used to update my predictions on a Friday morning, have done for years, regular as clockwork, now it’s the first job every day and I have no idea who’s on form, who’s playing well, who’s injured... it’s a nightmare.

However, out of the tidal flow of action, odd snippets and facts have caught the attention. On the back of Liverpool’s title win came the news that they had a ‘throw-in’ coach. How do you get a job like that and what’s next? A ‘goal kick’ coach? A self-help guru for the manager so he can project his personality onto the game more successfully from his technical area?

Also, the fact that Wolves started the current season something like five months before the first outbreak of COVID-19 in China and they still haven’t finished it. And somewhere in there I watched Steve Bruce ‘take the knee’ and wondered if he was ever going to be able to get up again.

Watford FC v Newcastle United - Premier League
Will someone please give him a mask?
Photo by Mike Egerton/Pool via Getty Images

When presented with an overwhelming barrage of information, the surreal is always just a small step away. Like - why don’t they have signed versions of games so that the deaf can follow the commentary? And if they were to do that, would they need a second signer to do the artificial crowd noise? I imagine would involve a lot of flailing of arms.

Then if they didn’t want to do signing they could have subtitles, although subtitling the crowd noise would probably mean having something like ‘whoo - ooh – ahh – booo - clap, clap, clap’ running across the bottom of your screens which might be a bit weird, but it would certainly take your mind off yet another crap VAR decision.

And why are we hurtling through these fixtures at a breakneck speed? So that we can get though this season as soon as possible, and next season can more-or-less start on time. But is anyone thinking about how next season is going to work? Is anyone considering how League 1 & 2 clubs are going to put on games in the future when it’s just been proved that they’re unable to do it already? Or did I miss something and everything’s OK now?

Burnley FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Five seconds later Nuno’s beard sexually assaulted the microphone.
Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images

I read this week that the decision on the EFL restart has been put back for a couple of weeks, which is just what you need in the current situation – some last-minute decision making and total lack of planning.

I mean... what happens when the furlough scheme ends and clubs have to meet a wage bill with no income? Is it just the case that the footballing authorities are waiting for things to improve generally so that it makes the decision-making easier? In which case, let’s hope the oft mentioned second spike doesn’t materialise just as next season gets up and running.

Surely the Government have to step in and help clubs in the same way that they’re helping the theatres – it’s a direct parallel, subsidise them until crowds can be safely allowed back into games. Failing that, sell the TV rights to League 1 & 2 games to a hundred countries across the globe and let the money flow in.