Robin Scott-Elliot: Welcome to the parallel universe of club TV channels

View From The Sofa: Chelsea TV/Bayern Munich TV/Liverpool TV
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

This will come as news to most of you – something of a first for this column – but one day last week was Didier Drogba day. Not sure which; Monday perhaps. He's a Monday sort of person, accompanied all over the pitch by his own dark cloud and always finding something to trip him up. It was Chelsea TV that commemorated DD-day, which actually makes it sound as though he belongs on page 3 with a speech bubble coming out of his head: Didier thinks the postman should get back to work. Unfortunately, it costs £6 a month to subscribe to Chelsea TV and so, despite a root down the side of the sofa which unearthed Dean Ashton and 17p, the events of the Drog's Day will have to remain unreported here.

Entering the world of club television channels is to leap into a parallel universe. It's football but not as we know it; it's all coasting and no rolling. A world of halos, old heroes and the top 10 victories over Fulham on Liverpool TV (defeat at Craven Cottage has at least spared them the job of updating it – every cloud etc).

By and large club channels would not offend North Korea. It's Totalitarian TV. Real Madrid, who if you are to take Sir Alex's word have cosied up to the odd totalitarian in days gone by, were billed to show repeats of their cup tie against Alcorcon on their channel. But the best-laid plans ... up popped repeats of a game against Tenerife. Never mind winners, history is recut by wealthy losers.

The channel did show one programme that swam upriver, about the Roma's struggle against racism in Romania (no idea why, having missed most of it). And given that the BBC seems to have ushered Formula One up the priority list on TV and radio news since it regained the rights to it, it's safe to assume that no one is above fiddling with reality.

According to German football lore, Bayern Munich have a loose hold on reality, hence FC Hollywood (should Manchester City be FC Hollyoaks?). ESPN is the place to find the Best of Bayern Munich TV in this country and it features the new commentating great, a sort of Germanic Tony Gubba but with language skills. I've no idea of his name but he speaks immaculate European English – ie better than most of us – with a show-boating habit of pronouncing each country's teams or places in the appropriate accent, in effect he does his own italics. And when commenTATing he likes to put SUDden emphasIS in rANDom places, followed by a smart "Ja" when he feels he's got something right. Which is a LOT. He is also, of course, single-minded. "So the Reds kick off playing in white [against a team in red just to up the ante]." When one Bayern player launched an assault on a Bordeaux opponent to earn a red card, our voice of reason wondered whether the French "really needed to fall over screaming every time a Bayern player made a tackle". He balanced that by pointing out that Bayern "have not come to France to make friends", not a novel approach by Germans.

That attempt to park on Stan Boardman's patch moves us seamlessly to Anfield, or wherever Liverpool TV is broadcast from. Despite straitened circumstances, the channel retains the air of snobbery that any great club needs. David Fairclough was asked his thoughts on the weekend's games. "Arsenal against Tottenham," he said. "That's a big game ... in north London."

Comments