The BBC announced today that it will be keeping the rights to show Premier League highlights on Match of the Day until at least 2019 – but the news might not be welcomed by all fans alike.
Sunderland supporters in particular can claim to feel aggrieved, after a study of the programme’s weekly running order revealed that they have lost more sleep than anyone else.
Gus Poyet’s team have occupied the last billing of the night for seven of their 22 matches this season, meaning fans have to stay up close to or just after midnight to catch the highlights.
And the only time they actually led the running order was to see their side beaten 8-0 by Southampton – after which we could all be forgiven for calling it an early night.
The fans who will be most pleased with the continuation of Match of the Day will be Chelsea’s. Top of the league, they also top the BBC’s charts, featuring in the first game of the evening seven times so far this season.
The figures were analysed by Press Association sport and included all the festive editions of the programme around Christmas and New Year’s.
The BBC’s head of football, Mark Cole, told PA Sport he felt that the low billing for Sunderland could actually bode well for fans if it continues – despite the lack of entertainment.
He said: “If they're on last by the end of the season the most, then it means they'll still be in the Premier League, because they won't be drawn into those big relegation battles that feature highly in the programme.”
“It's not personal,” Cole added. “We've got a couple of Sunderland fans in the office and the chap who does all our stats is a Sunderland fan so he's keeping a particular eye on it.”
The running order for each week's Match of the Day is a hot topic amongst supporters and how it is decided is top on the list of 'Frequently Asked Questions' on the Match of the Day website.
Explaining the process, Cole said: “What you're trying to look at in a nutshell is what game do people sat at home at 10.30pm on a Saturday night want to watch most?
“There's a combination of factors that go into that. People want to see the teams at the top, there's interest in relegation battles, but also what the game's been like. Goals do have a massive impact in where you are in the running order for Match of the Day.”
Manchester City have been on first the second-most times (five) and have appeared in the top three games more than any other side - 15 times in total to Chelsea's 13. Manchester United have been first only twice - two times fewer than second-bottom QPR - but along with Tottenham have been on the main programme the fewest times - with only 11 appearances.
Below is a full breakdown of how each team fared in the eyes of the Match of the Day programmers.
How did your team do?
ARSENAL: Arsene's entertainers have featured in the top three on nine occasions, and have never been on last.
ASTON VILLA: The Premier League's lowest scorers have been bottom of the bill six times - once less than Sunderland. They have not featured in the topmatch all season - only Stoke can match that - but have been in the top three five times.
BURNLEY: Sean Dyche's men were first on in the last Saturday night highlights show on January 17 against Crystal Palace, with the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park bottom of the bill on September 13.
CHELSEA: Jose Mourinho's men are top of the league and top of the bill more than anyone else - seven first-place appearances so far.
CRYSTAL PALACE: The Eagles' win at Burnley on January 17 is their one and only appearance in top spot so far. They have been last on five times.
EVERTON: Top of the bill twice in as many weeks in late August with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal and a 6-3 defeat against Chelsea, both at Goodison Park.They have not been back in top spot since.
HULL: Three appearances in top spot for the Tigers - two in consecutive weekends on September 20 and 27 - but no wins. Three appearances in thebottom spot too.
LEICESTER: The Foxes may be bottom of the table but curiously have been third on more than any other side - five times in total.
LIVERPOOL: The Reds finished second in the Premier League last season but their comparative struggles this time around are reflected by the fact thatthey have been on last three times.
MANCHESTER CITY: The Blues have featured first five times - second only to Chelsea - and in the top three 15 times, more than any other club.
MANCHESTER UNITED: Louis van Gaal's men have only topped the bill twice, and have featured in the top three six times in their 11 appearances in theshows surveyed.
NEWCASTLE: A very even spread for the Magpies - three times in top spot, including the day they ended Chelsea's unbeaten start to the season on December 6, twice second, twice third and twice last.
QPR: They may be 19th but their four appearances in the top slot is second only to the league's top two Chelsea and Manchester City. Only one appearance at the bottom of the bill.
SOUTHAMPTON: Saints have been first on just once - the 8-0 hammering of Sunderland - and have made only two further appearances in the top three, despite being third in the league.
STOKE: Along with Villa the only side yet to feature in the top match. Six top-three appearances and three bottom-of-the-bill showings for the Potters.
SUNDERLAND: Appear to have drawn the short straw. Last on the programme a table-topping seven times, with one win and four defeats to show fromtheir five top-three appearances, with one of those losses the pasting at St Mary's.
SWANSEA: Garry Monk's men may be irked to discover that they have been bottom of the bill more than any other side in the top half - five times in total. It all started so well - they were first on with their win at Old Trafford on the opening day.
TOTTENHAM: Spurs' appearances in the programmes covered by our survey have been limited to 11 this season, primarily caused by their Europa League involvement, but just four top-three appearances in total does still seem a rather slim return.
WEST BROM: Despite their struggles this season, the Baggies have not featured in the bottom spot once. They have been on first three times so far, but all three matches were defeats.
WEST HAM: The highest-placed side to feature at the bottom of the bill - their 0-0 draw with Villa at Upton Park on November 8.Reuse content