Football’s Coming Home?
A temporary remedy for these troubled times would appear to be the frenzy that is the World Cup.
England’s surprisingly strong performances, capped by their remarkable 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday, has converged with Andalusian temperatures over the past few weeks.
Compounded by their magnificent 6-1 victory over Panama (a veritable goal bonanza, with England recording their biggest World Cup Finals win ever) and the subsequent thrashing of the recalcitrant Columbia on penalties, the country appears gripped by national euphoria not witnessed in many a year. Jubilant crowds have spilled into pubs and bars, with landlords and landladies gleefully ringing the tills.
Of course, this could all go in the blink of any eye, but for now it would surely be churlish not to embrace it.
An impressive 24 million viewers tuned in to watch the Colombia game, eclipsing the royal wedding and cementing its status as the most watched TV event of the year.
As the country braces itself for tomorrow’s semi-final against Croatia, the anticipation is palpable. To further stoke this fervour, it’s been announced that the game will also be shown on a massive screen in Hyde Park.
As this will be the first time England has made it to the World Cup semi final since 1990, the Mayor of London and Culture Secretary decided to pull out the stops, imbuing the occasion with the veneer of prestige it deserves. This is now the hottest ticket in town with 30,000 available: the largest London screening of a football match since 1996.
Although the tickets are free, you will need to strap on your skates tout de suite to secure them, as they are being snapped up swifter than a header from Leicester City’s 6 ft 4 Harry Maguire.
Cunningly, EastEnders have also jumped on the bandwagon with the Mick Carter character (played by Danny Dyer) cracking jokes about the World Cup. Indeed there’s speculation that future episodes may include a ‘coming home’ reference…
Last Saturday’s England match broadcast on BBC1 achieved a rating of 40 ABC1 Men, equivalent to 5.5m viewing nationwide (40% of the national ABC1 Men population). Even Scotland delivered 30 TVRs, with the highest regional performance delivered within the Midwest (the Midlands, West Country and Wales) at 44 TVRs.
In terms of on-demand, the top 5 most requested BBC matches online across BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer were:
1. Tunisia v England (3.22m)
2. England v Panama (3.13m)
3. Portugal v Spain (2.03m)
4. Egypt v Uruguay (2.03m)
5. South Korea v Germany (1.98m)
Hats off to the urbane Gareth Southgate and his prestigious waistcoat, as he oozes elan and emotional intelligence that is truly a pleasure to behold.
These are heady times indeed, especially for ITV who are broadcasting the match tomorrow at 7pm from Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Head Of Broadcast