Match Fixing


By Mike Small

While the Scottish media goes into a froth and a frenzy of Old Firm (sic) coverage before the League Cup semi-final – coverage which, apart from the rest of license-fee payers I’d imagine the fans of Aberdeen and Dundee United should be pretty pissed off about – down south a different media story emerged. The ‘BBC’ has paid £204m on our behalf  to renew the rights for three more years of Match of the Day.

Gary Lineker – on £2 million a year in 2013 – is joined each week by regular pundits Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage, Danny Murphy and Phil Neville, with guest appearances from Rio Ferdinand and Ruud Gullit. If Alan Hansen’s  reputed £50,000 a show salary is matched by just four of these guys – in thirty broadcasts we’d have spent a whopping £6 million just in the guys with the matching shirts and stubble to argue over the offside ruke.

The coverage includes not just the Premiership but the Championship as well. Walk into any bar in Scotland and beaming out will be coverage of Shrewsbury versus Cambridge or an endless stream of minor teams elevated by the state broadcaster. It’s wall to wall surround-sound English football.

BBC director general Tony Hall said:

“Sport matters. It brings the nation together. It can break hearts and raise spirits. And because it matters to the public, it also matters to the BBC.”

Clearly Scottish football doesn’t, not even proportionately.

It’s unclear which nation is being brought together by this over-paid self-congratulatory ladfest, but it’s certainly not the one I live in.

It’s rumoured that one episode of MOTD costs more than the entire annual budget of BBC Sport Scotland. Perhaps now that the promised Smith Commission is to allow ‘greater scrutiny and control’ over broadcasting issues we can find out how much is put into Scottish football.

We are told that the increased powers for Holyrood will mean:

  •  a formal consultative role for the Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament in the process of reviewing the BBC’s Charter.
  • The BBC will lay its annual report and accounts before the Scottish Parliament and submit reports to, and appear before, committees of the Scottish Parliament in relation to matters relating to Scotland in the same way as it does in the UK Parliament.

So let’s find out just how much our national sport matters to the BBC. I suspect ‘not very much’ will be the answer. Any BBC whistleblowers want to drop us a line with the numbers?

Nobody would doubt that the English game is massive, of far higher quality, with a bigger audience, both in the UK and abroad, and the game is awash with money. By contrast ours is a badly-run shambles with little money and without even an official sponsor for our top  league.

That’s a disgrace, but all the more reason why we deserve decent coverage from our public broadcaster, and openness about the amount of funding put it. This is a circular argument. Because our game is so badly televised it is to the detriment of the search for a commercial sponsor.

What would more investment bring? For starters we should expect:

  • Multi-camera coverage including light-weight mobile cameras
  • Proper commentating and match analysis
  • High profile and high quality broadcasting

The ‘national’ sports output of the BBC is hugely focused around one nation. The issue here is not just about giving Scotland and other nations in the UK fair coverage and investment, it’s also about the massive overpay of these pundits and the wider issue of coverage of other sports.




Comments (32)

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  1. Scottish sports expenditure should be proportionate – but is it really such a good thing to divert such huge sums of money into football?

    For starters a societty which took inequality seriously would not have such massively overpaid sports stars, managers, agents etc as we see in the English game. All of this wealth is being extracted from the ordinary people who created it by others who cannot reasonably be said to have earned it by the work they have done. Even if you allow that sportsmen & women etc should be well paid there is no way to justify the hugely inflated salaries in the top flight.

    There are also other sports to consider – and women’s sports – which should all get a slice of the pie.

    And wouldn’t it be good to encourage more people to switch off their TV and take part in sports and other physical activities? Perhaps more money could be spent on sports facilities, local competitions and events. Some of this would even pay for itself with better public health.

  2. bellacaledonia says:

    Hi Noel – I agree – all points I raised at the end of the article. Actually I think seeing your team on the telly doesn’t stop people playing and watching live, it should enhance the whole game. Totally agree with you about other sports. BBC Scotland actually just continues its coverage over the summer when there’s no football even on (!)

  3. fermerfaefife says:

    BBC are just not interested in Scottish sports – We have a sport which we happen to be pretty good at …. Curling and the sum total of its coverage of the Scottish championships is hour long recorded highlights of mens & wimmins final at ridiculously o clock a few days later. It would cost buttons to cover it properly. Club Rugby is another area that involve a lot of communities but it doesn’t see the light of day. They couldn’t even be bothered to cover the only major indoor athletics meet that Scotland holds last weekend at the Emirates.
    They would rather put on endless repeats of place in the sun or antiques in the attic.
    BBC Scotland should get a proportionate budget to spend on sports coverage and should have the will to cover all these minor sports which in reality would not demand a fee but be grateful for the exposure of airtime to boost participation. aaaargh makes me so angry !!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Les Wilson says:

    Totally agree with the article, but we are seen as a small northern backwater, hardly warranted of getting support in financial terms. In the eyes of Westminster, the BBC, Labour, Tories etc.
    Then there is the getting revenge issue on dissident Scots. Ho Hum, do we really expect anything else from those down South who, Hum, love us!!!

  5. Barontorc says:

    The law of diminishing returns is already kicking in for football clubs. Look on TV at any ground in Scotland and it’s less than full by a long way, yet the standard of play is decent.

    Too expensive, way too generous with payments and in some cases; Rangers and Hearts, being improperly run and ruined.

    You don’t run business that way – any business.

  6. Peter Campbell says:

    I just submitted this complaint/request for info to the BBC :
    From this ofcom report, Scotland contributes 8.6% of the overall BBC licence fee. In return, BBC Scotland was only given 3.7% of that figure for its overall budget. I wish to concentrate this complaint on Scottish sport and in particular, football. There was a 3 year contract announced here–new-three-year-deal-with-bbc-2013-05-02/ by the SPFL, and, under FOI, I would like to know what the value of that deal was. We have the BBC loudly trumpeting its £204m new deal for showing all English games until 2019, and we also have the BBC Director General Tony Hall stating that “Sport matters. It brings the nation together. It can break hearts and raise spirits. And because it matters to the public, it also matters to the BBC.” For me, Scottish sport matters more than English sport, can you please clarify which nation Tony was referring to in his above statement. I feel that the BBC treats Scotland as a second class nation. You are happy to take fhe full licence from me and my fellow countrymen, but you do not give fair value in return. I await your full and frank answers on my questions re the SPFL deal value, and why BBC Scotland only gets 3.7% back from the 8.6% it contributes to BBC coffers, and also which particular nation Mr Hall was referring to. regards,

    1. Blairtucker says:

      “In return, BBC Scotland was only given 3.7% of that figure for its overall budget.”

      I don’t think that’s accurate. The 2011-12 figure was 5.5% overall – I think that’s probably just focusing on programming budgets. Also it’s never going to be 8.6% because some parts of the BBC are always going to be UK-wide (e.g. the online stuff).

    2. Darien says:

      ” I feel that the BBC treats Scotland as a second class nation.”

      Nation? Colony you mean. Only a colony would ever be ‘granted’ a devolved parliament, or ‘home rule’. We(e) Scots should have figured our status out since 1999. As Number 10 declared last year, they think Scotland was incorporated into England in 1707. For Scotland, “they think its all over”. Scots still have to prove them wrong. Its all a question of backbone; an SNP ‘Scots’ MP majority in May would be a nice opportunity to make our own declaration. Then we might get some decent fitba coverage, as well as the full socio-economic benefits from our/Scotland’s positive trade balance.

  7. DaveyM says:

    Football, football, football. Most people don’t really care about it anyway, so who the hell cares? I’d rather the BBC wasn’t wasting any public money on it, but then they waste public money on sports that I do enjoy, so fair enough.

    I’d rather be watching Andy Murray playing tennis than hearing endless nonsense about football, seemingly at all hours of the day. Well the BBC do (thankfully) cater for tennis, so I get to see Scotland’s multiple Grand Slam winner in action, should I decide to watch via the BBC.

    I also get to watch the Six Nations and autumn rugby internationals via the BBC (I’m sorry, but as an actual sporting contest and in the manner and spirit in which the game is played, rugby beats football as a spectacle hands down – and it might teach kids a thing or two about actually being sporting. When was the last time that was ever said about football?).

    There’s probably far too much football coverage on BBC as it is. Do we need more of it (regardless of where it’s from)? Probably not.

    1. Jim Forbes says:

      I agree with you totally, would much rather watch Andy Murray do anything than 22 numpties running about a field chasing a ball. Sadly, football gets the lions share of ‘popular’ following and thus media coverage.

  8. I don’t have a telly so the only time I ever see my team is when I go to watch them, but critical of the BBC as I remain of its politics coverage BBC Scotland has always served me well in terms of the game with Sportsound for nearly an hour each night, and Off The Ball being basically the best thing on that whole channel, and quite unmissable. Also they broadcast good coverage of the matches, which I am genreally tuned in to on Saturdays and Sundays including internationals, which I can only access this way. I realise that this doesn’t address the camera coverage you are discussing Mike, but I wanted to offer a thumbs up for the one part of the BBC that at least as far as I am concerned, has always delivered, even if it does feature Willie Miller LOL. Stuart Cosgrove is just one of the best broadcasters out there . . .

  9. PS Those MOTD dicks are abominations, and agreed, I thoroughly resent for paying for them

  10. Daryl says:

    It was great watching Andy Murray yesterday morning on the BBC, and I would have looked forward to watching him play on Sunday morning, but I will be out keeping fit playing in the snow. BBC sport coverage is as good as you can expect, it can never compete with SKY or BT, and It does show Scottish league highlights and English, but more Scots probably watch the English highlights anyway. We should be putting pressure on Scottish FA to show Scottish international matches on terrestrial TV, would be better to encourage BBC to bid for that rather than be angered that the BBC spends so much on English and Welsh sport which the whole of the UK enjoys.

  11. Nicely linked in with Beeb’s attitude towards Scotland in general.Overpaid and under worked English while Scotland is over worked and underpaid.Too much falling down and claiming for non- existent infringements in football now,anyway

  12. Daniel Rae says:

    For a start, Shrewsbury and Cambridge aren’t in the Championship but that’s beside the point…

    The point is that the majority of the UK, Scotland included, enjoy watching MOTD. “Walk into any bar…” again is completely untrue. Some bars show MOTD but I’ve not found many showing The Football League show, which starts at midnight.

    I think if you asked most people on the street, they’d say that they enjoy watching EPL football more than what’s on offer in Scotland. That’s probably not right, but it’s the truth and I fall into that category. I also prefer watching the NFL than the SPL too, perhaps because I’m a Motherwell fan and we’re having a horrid season.

    In an ideal world, it’d all be available, we live in the world of red buttons and on-demand TV. Let the people decide what to watch. But I have no doubt many people in Scotland would prefer to watch the EPL over the SPL.

    @Davey “Most people don’t really care about it anyway…” that’s utter nonsense.
    @Bella and Peter – you’re argument is flawed as you seem to you think Scottish people only want to watch Scottish sport. That’s clearly untrue.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I just took two random teams. I think Shrewsbury’s a funny sounding team.

      The anglicisation of our airwaves is a problem, I think. So is the basic fact that we pay in and don’t get back an equitable return. Its simply really. I also think there’s a real issue about paying some of these pundits VAST sums for having a bit of a blether about the football. I think its pretty obscene really.

    2. Blairtucker says:

      I tend to agree with the idea that people just in general like watching English football because it’s a better standard. I’ll freely admit that I like watching it. I also don’t think the reason it’s better than Scottish football has much to do with the BBC per se, it’s more of a wider restructuring of the sport that stems from a diverse range of things – the Bosman ruling, global TV markets, the internet, globalisation, etc.

  13. tartanfever says:


    I’ve looked into this a number of times over the last few years, the only mention ever of any figure regarding BBC Scotland tv highlights deal has come from ‘The Drum’ and it refers to the last contract which ran from 2010 to 2013. The estimate they gave then was £3m a year.

    Note: the article isn’t even about the TV deal, it’s centred on the apparent loss in revenue due to ‘Rangers’ being demoted.

    Cost from the current contract, signed in 2013, has never been made public, in direct contrast to the huge media celebration that takes place in BBC London when they disclose the amount they pay for English football rights.

    The Drum article is here:

    The press release for the 2013 contract is short and sweet, it’s available here:

    1. bellacaledonia says:


  14. Big Jock says:

    I have zero interest in English self conglatutory football. They believe their own hype about the world watching them. As a Patrick fan I am lucky if I get 5 minutes of my team on a Sunday night Sportscene. If I don’t have an interest in a team or league I don’t watch. People in my work will say what about UTD at the weekend. I will presume it is the Dundee variety but often it isn’t..its that damned utd. I just say oh aye ,but really I know nothing. Its the same for cricket. Why does Scotland have to hear about cricket when we don’t have any interest in the English team. I suppose these things are all the benefits of the union though! I am just a whinging ungrateful jock.

  15. Middenheap says:

    Having spent much of my adult life in far flung parts of the globe, I am a regular listener to the BBC World Service. The sports coverage on this service has sadly followed the present day trend to focus more and more on high profile, big money sports, with the EPL probably taking up as much as 90% of their sports airtime nowadays. The English Premiership has no bigger promoter than Auntie herself. In the last year or so (maybe since the demise of James Alexander Gordon), the ‘full English and Scottish’ football results on a Saturday now terminates after the six Scottish Premier Division scores. Maybe this reflects the level of interest of the targeted listener, where the focus may be more on the people of Africa, Asia and the Americas, rather than a few expats here and there, but no longer have I the chance to hear that fabled ‘East Fife five, Forfar four’ on my little short wave radio.

  16. epicyclo says:

    Bugger the football. I want to watch sports where grown men don’t fall over when their shirt sleeve gets brushed by a passing player.

    Shinty deserves more money put into it, and it’s culturally appropriate.

  17. Big Jock says:

    Aye can’t disagree with that! Footballers are pampered and my interest has fairly diminished in football over the years. Having said that I used to love the national rugby team. But when all those proud Scots for no like David Sole and Andy Irvine came out for no . I thought bugger that they don’t deserve to sing Flower of Scotland.

  18. Craig P says:

    Personally I’d rather have more documentaries about obscure artists and community groups, but then that’s why I’m on Bella and not Follow Follow.

  19. The Klankie says:

    Support your local team – thats the only way Scottish football will get better. When the local team is doing well it does gives the place a feel good factor.
    Forget EBC and Sky – pay the money at the turnstile and enjoy the afternoon, or look on the bright side – things can only get better next week if we get gubbed at Easter Road this afternoon.

  20. fermerfaefife says:

    Theres a few folk missing the point – If BBC Scotland got anything like the budget it should for sports coverage – ie the 9% that Scottish licence payers provide – then that would be a huge boost for ALL sports in Scotland – club rugby, hockey, swimming, shinty, curling, Scottish cricket, ice hockey etc etc as well as football. It could provide a bit of the income but more importantly it would put these sports on the telly and hopefully raise their profile. When was the last time you seen a hockey game between 2 Scottish sides ?
    Why should we be forced to watch the likes of cricket, English football and premiership rugby with no recourse to our own domestic games?

  21. Darien says:

    There’s no such thing as ‘English’ football anymore. Its an industry made up of multi-national millionaire mercenaries masquerading as sportsmen. Club ownership is even more bizarre. The UK is probably the only country that allows such laissez faire practices. Some people doubt its sustainability – all UK bubbles burst eventually.

  22. Lochside says:

    Good article, followed by the usual ragbag comments of fitba haters and self loathing Scotbuts who think ‘most’ people in Scotland prefer the hyped up English version.

    Well I’ve got news for you, anywhere between 90,00-100,000 people watch Scottish football in the flesh on any week. Many thousands more would watch it regularly if the games were played at 3pm on a Saturday and if they were exposed to coverage of their local professional team on the telly.

    The point missed by all you rugger buggers is , as the article makes clear, Scottish fans are cheated out of our rightful millions of pounds’ licence fee contribution in order to finance the vanity projects known as ‘The Premier League and The Football League’. Other leagues are available, although you would never know it.

    Gary Lineker, the Walkers Crisps man, is paid as much as BBC Scotland’s yearly budget. And you can easily tell this by comparing coverage. This is not about how good or bad the respective countries’ football is. It is about equal distribution of the licence fee within the countries of what is still the UK.

    Two or three decades ago, ‘Football Focus’ allocated 10-15 minutes to Scottish football previews, sometimes spotlighting small clubs like Stenhousemuir as I recall, who had a Scandinavian following owing to their name translating ‘Stone house in the field’. Then on the Saturday night we got’Sportscene with the redoubtable Archie McPherson, comb-over and all , showing an hour’s highlights of football.

    We were also able to see the Cup competition from the earliest rounds. Our league teams in Europe and and our National team were both featured frequently, not hidden away on pay for view.

    So, maybe we have deteriorated as a footballing nation, but the correlation with increasing BBC allocation of our hard won fees to England’s glory and crisp salesman Lineker ‘ s bank account cannot be ignored. Sky’s contribution dwarfs the BBC’s but operates on the same distorted basis in distribution to our neighbour’s much over-hyped game.

    Perhaps if our Unionist voting Football chairmen showed more belief in Scottish Football,
    we might squeeze a better deal out of the broadcasters.

  23. Clydebuilt says:

    Notice how the print and broadcast media that fought tooth and nail against a YES vote , hyped this game up. They want the old firm to continue. Ergo The Old Firm” are bad for Sccotland.

    The Old Firm = divide and conquer

    Scots / Old Firm = Scots Conquered

  24. The usual BBC radio announcement of ‘and now the sport, meaning primarily football, English football and as is to expected the top third or so of The Premier League that renders half the days of the week between mid afternoon and ten O’clock a barren desert of identical shouted dreariness.

  25. jungle joe says:

    You clearly haven’t been in many bars lately….sky sports yes but bbc motd or motd extra?

    1. sparkyggb says:

      With the extortionate Fees that BSB charges the bars it would be daft not to have it on every hour that they can.

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