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Footie results disappear from BBC: racing must surely be next for news cuts

09-August-2022 18:10
in General
by Peter McNeile

Todays' news that the football results will no longer be broadcast on BBC's Sports Report each Saturday is like the final departure of a much-loved pet. You don't need to be a footie fan to have enjoyed the dulcet tones of James Alexander Gordon, or to join in the guess work of the likely scoreline in each match based on his intonation. 

Many is the fan who has imitated Gordon and his successor, Charlotte Green, in second-guessing a scoreline, and I'll swear that each of these two occasionally put up a ringer to confuse their audience. 

However, the disappearance of results is a trend already the best part of 30 years old, so football can thank its lucky stars to have kept the tradition so long. I can remember the BBC inserting results from other meetings during broadcasts of its racing, but this was largely because the analysis was that much weaker than nowadays (and a small matter of less time due to commercial breaks). 

Then came premium telephone lines where you could listen to commentary and hear quick results. they came, they went, as the internet made everything instantly available. Even Point-to-Point results are available almost instantly nowadays, from areas with minimal phone coverage. 

But like all results, these too have become not just harder to find, but abbreviated. My own newspaper - The Times - used to deliver the full result of every race, including trainer, rider, owner, distances, time of winning horse, and also rans. Each race ran to at least a column inch. Nowadays, that information is purely for the web visitor. 

Daily Mail, one of very few newspapers still to issue full racing results

One wonders how long it will be before results for minority sports like racing disappear altogether from mainstream newspapers, and if they did, whether anyone would actually care. They can hardly be a reason to buy a paper nowadays, when this information is at your fingertips on any self-resepcting mobile phone. 

If racing results disappear, it may surely be only a matter of time before the printing of daily cards becomes a more selective process. I find myself asking if this would matter. How much would I actually care if the card from Chelmsford or Lingfield wasn't in my newspaper? This is the result of the racecourses and betting industry chumming up so closely to provide endless mediocre fodder to watch each day. Less would be more, in almost everyone's view. I would gladly forgo a card or two for some well-crafter editorial from a senior writer like Marcus Armytage, Will Hayler or Donn MacClean.

Foreign turf authorities may look at our media coverage in wonder and envy, but few envy our denuded prize money structure that has the jam spread so thin that spectators are losing interest and the "follower" of the sport diminished by one-time social followers going partying. 

Less of everything can be a force for good, a lesson that should be understood by everyone at the helm of British racing. Scarcity value is what can drive interest, not wall-to-wall coverage. Therein lies indigestion, and a paling interest level. 

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