ESPN to continue its touchline analysis despite Keown's whack
Broadcaster keen to bring fans 'as close to game as possible' – even if pundits end up being hit by balls
Martin Keown's head may still be ringing, but ESPN is not prepared to do away with pitch-side punditry quite yet. The former Arsenal defender, working as a summariser, was hit by a well-struck football before Monday night's game between Arsenal and Leeds at the Emirates but the TV channel insists it will continue "to bring fans as close as we can to the game".
That aim, laudable as it sounds, may prove hard to live up to. Keown's accident – the ball was apparently struck by Michael Brown, the Leeds midfielder – was not the only problem suffered by ESPN's team (which also included presenter Rebecca Lowe and Robbie Savage) on Monday. Nearby Leeds fans threw objects including hot dogs and coins at the Welsh midfielder and some fairly strong language was picked up on the trio's microphones.
Keown suggested yesterday that the ball may have been aimed at Savage, who was the focus of much of the Leeds fans' abuse. Afterwards, Savage was clearly upset. "Majority of Leeds fans were a disgrace throwing coins and hot dogs, shouting obscenities to a lady presenter! Disgrace!" he tweeted.
Nonetheless, ESPN says it will aim to continue to place analysis teams by the byline, although it will now be taking special care to assess where best to put them. It also seems clear that, in certain situations, they will be relocated to a studio – at Elland Road, perhaps.
"Our first commitment is always to our presentation and production team, and ensuring their safety and well-being," said ESPN's director of communications, Paul Melvin. "We have no specific plans to change our editorial approach, and will look to continue to be innovative and bring fans as close as we can to the game. As always, we will work hard to examine how we do that while also ensuring the right environment for our team week in and week out."
After appearing initially shocked by the blow, Keown – who was regarded in his day as one of the toughest footballers in England – gave the Leeds team the thumbs-up and insisted there was no damage done. When Lowe asked him: "Are you all right?" he replied "Yeah, just about – they can keep doing it." ESPN takes a different view, but it is clearly keen to continue sending its studio team down to the touchline.
A real turn-off: Other questionable TV innovations
Pitch-side punditry has been shown to have its drawbacks, but it is far from the worst sporting idea that the TV bods have had:
The tactics truck
When ITV took over Premier League highlights, it had all manner of ideas – of which the worst was probably the Tactics Truck, led by Andy Townsend. It was as excruciating and unenlightening a segment as has ever appeared on a British sports show.
The rise of panel shows
They Think It's All Over, the first of its ilk, was just about acceptable. A League Of Their Own, by contrast, featuring regular "gags" from Andrew Flintoff could lead the most positive of optimists to join the "Britain is going to the dogs" gang. Grim.
You're On Sky Sports
The most obvious of fillers, the most obnoxious of fillers. We all know Sky Sports has hour upon hour of airtime to fill, but the broadcaster could surely come up with something better than this. Less informative than a Ladybird book and has also relaunched the careers of former footballers such as Jason Cundy. And again, the only question is why?
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Latest in Sport
Anderlecht vs Arsenal match report: Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski pounce as Arsenal leave it late
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Daley Blind admits United must 'play our best game' to get a result at Old Trafford
Liverpool vs Real Madrid player ratings: Was Cristiano Ronaldo the star man? And how did Mario Balotelli fare?
Liverpool vs Real Madrid match report: Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema run Reds ragged at Anfield
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was shirt swapping the real reason?
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'