Movie madness! Beeb to switch off 35 Football League games for Swayze film
The BBC has opted to show movies instead of The Football League Show over the festive period, prompting fears the programme could be axed at the end of the season.
Many fans of the 72 clubs that make up the Championship, League One and League Two have already reacted with dismay that they have been denied a rare snapshot of their sides on national terrestrial television.
Last season, total attendances for Football League matches surpassed those in the Barclays Premier League, with more than 16million tickets sold — 2.5m more than for the top flight of English football.
Why”s it not on telly Birmingham played West Ham in the Championship on Boxing Day
The Football League Trophy, won by Carlisle United, attracted an additional 207,395 spectators and another 354,132 fans watched the promotion play-offs.
Despite being shown after Match of the Day late on Saturday nights, The Football League Show, presented by Manish Bhasin with Steve Claridge in the pundit’s chair, still attracts around two million viewers each week.
But instead of showing League One leaders Charlton twice coming from behind to beat Yeovil 3-2, or what the 27,794 fans who watched Middlesbrough beat Hull City 1-0 on Boxing Day saw, the BBC showed 2006 film The Guardian, starring Kevin Costner.
On January 2, when 35 Football League matches take place, the corporation will screen 1991 film Point Break with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze after the Premier League highlights programme on BBC One.
Presenter: Manish Bhasin fronts the popular Football League Show
There will be no The Football League Show on New Year’s Eve and the programme will not return until a Carling Cup special on January 10 followed by a regular Saturday night round-up on January 14.
The decision comes after the BBC’s budget for sport was slashed by 15 per cent, with the organisation only able to offer 10 live Championship games every season.
Bhasin tweeted: ‘Budget decision I’m afraid … but all the goals will be online on the BBC football website’.
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: ‘We would greatly regret the decision if the BBC decided to the end The Football League Show. Already the Premier League dominates a lot of TV coverage and it’s important that we have a proper balance. If it was shown at a more civilised hour, its audience would be even bigger.’
New show: The Football League Show was launched with this advert in 2010
A BBC insider insisted that negotiations to extend the programme’s three-year life beyond May were ‘very positive indeed’ but a spokeswoman for the organisation refused to comment on the future of The Football League Show.
She added: ‘The Boxing Day and January 2 fixtures are outside our contractual obligations. Many factors come into play when planning the busy Christmas schedules and we were unable to do a programme for New Year’s Eve. We will be doing an additional show later in the season.’
This is understood to be on Easter Monday, April 9, when the Football League will be nearing its conclusion.