Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The return of the English Premiership season on Saturday also meant the welcome return to our screens of Soccer AM on Sky Television.

It might not have the same comedy value as when Lovejoy, Fenners and co were the crew, but it still entertains and we always make sure we don't miss it every week. We even grew to like Max Rushden last season, who had seemed the most wooden TV presenter ever when he first joined the show. The jury's still out as to whether we can ever take to Helen's minging new haircut mind you. She seems to have aged to being a middle aged woman overnight (which of course she is, but never seemed it!).

Whilst we're glad it's back, Soccer AM does have a lot to answer for in one regard. It made it that a female co-presenter was the "must have" accessory for seemingly every football tv show since.

Before the days of Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain, Soccer AM was presented by Russ Williams, ex pro Gary Stevens and a female presenter called Jane Hoffen. That's when AFTN featured on the show with our two "fancams" that we did for them. It was a far more serious show then and Hoffen was annoying and awful and not sexy and informed like Helen is today.

That set the mould though for every show to follow though and the success and popularity of Helen just meant that so many footie shows, on every channel, have to add that female component. It really is like a token gesture and when you see how some of them perform, you have to wonder why they even bothered.

ITV went with Gabby Yorath, there's been Kirsty Gallagher and a whole host of others, some good, some dreadful. Setanta had Rebecca Lowe who came across at times as a second rate Helen Chamberlain, but was a lot less annoying and a lot more enjoyable than a lot who have gone before her and it's good to see that she was picked up by ESPN.

The latest addition to this long list are the two women who have so far appeared on the new BBC flagship programme, The Football League Show - a show that seems to be presented from a dungeon studio that we can only think was designed by Josef Fritzl. Week one has Lizzie Greenwood Hughes and week two had Jacqui Oatley. Their exciting and patronising job - to read out the emails. Whether we're going to get a different woman each week, who knows, but so far both women look a lot more suited to being on a show like Watchdog than a football show.

And it's not just the UK that has this affliction, the whole token woman presenter has come across to North America (and in most sports too, not just football). Just be thankful you didn't have to endure the atrocious cow who was sent to try and interview fans during the game in CBC Canada's coverage of Toronto FC games. Sure she was hot. Sure you'd want to shag her, but perhaps only on the condition that she didn't actually speak.

It's time that TV producers woke up to the fact that adding a woman to your show isn't going to hook the dads and pervs into watching. If we want to just watch some hot bimbo speak inanely then we have babestation and their ilk. It can be more of a turn off than a turn on. Match of the Day and Soccer Saturday seem to still manage with an informed, all male crew without having to bow to the pressure to conform to the new norm.

We're not against female football presenters, as our love for Helen shows, but just make sure you pick ones that actually give the impression that they know what they're talking about.


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