As the English Premier League kicked off over the weekend and the Scottish Premiership played out a full card, audiences up north and down south were treated to flagship BBC football highlights shows covering both leagues.
North of the border, Scottish football fans were once again subjected to draining, negative, morose panel show Sportscene where petty allegiances often take precedence over quality analysis.
Contrast this with Match of the Day, who in Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright have a trio of charismatic(ish) pundits who are in place to entertain instead of enrage.
We often hear Scottish football pundits hark on about English footballing arrogance or people talking down the game north of the border.
But when the flagship highlights programme in Scotland – the reverse an institution down south – is built to be so polarising and unfair what chance do we have?
BBC Scotland have tried to shake it up for this season but in the early part of the campaign we’re seeing signs once again that we’ll be funnelled into this shock jock coverage.
Saturday night’s flagship show pre-planned a segment where Michael Stewart was allowed to gun for Steven Gerrard and Alfredo Morelos.
“Honestly, I’m sick and tired of comments like that to be perfectly honest,” said Stewart [Sportscene 12/09/20], after Steven Gerrard had suggested Morelos would’ve seen red had he performed a tackle inflicted on him by Dundee United’s Ryan Edwards.
“Rangers as a club have come out on a number of occasions and said they cannot defend Alfredo Morelos anymore.
“You can’t both be the victim while then also saying you can’t defend him anymore.
“It’s a bad tackle, Ryan Edwards is lucky to get away with it, he could have easily got a red card but enough of this that if it was Alfredo Morelos it would be different.
“We’ve seen a number of occasions where Alfredo Morelos has got off with things, other times he hasn’t.”
Rangers fans have raised doubts over his impartiality in the past due to links with Celtic TV and even if the pundit doesn’t mean it, it certainly feels his grievances with Rangers are more political than footballing.
Not to mention the fact Stewart spent a part of the show talking about a Ross County player who is no longer at the club, his eagerness to assault Rangers apparently more important than actually researching for the show.
Here’s Michael Stewart slamming Ross County’s Lee Erwin for his defending. Only problem is County sold him last week and he was playing for St.Mirren at the time Mikey thinks he should have been tracking back at Dingwall 😂 pic.twitter.com/G9QSeKzH1A
— Heart & Hand Podcast (@ibroxrocks) September 14, 2020
It’s not just Stewart either.
Much of the Sportscene panel have the charisma of a wet sock and the show itself is as dull and lacklustre in its analysis as it is negative, morose and sensational.
License fee payers in Scotland are subjected to these tiresome soundbites all the time, Rangers’ fraught relationship with the national broadcaster certainly not helping matters.
Last season there was increased scrutiny on the infamous “trial by Sportscene”, where the BBC would seek to influence retrospective action by obsessing over trivial incidents on the panel.
At times it felt more minutes were given trying to get Alfredo Morelos suspended than there were highlighting the strength of his play, and therein lies the problem.
It’s generating a stink which reeks to high heavens and which ultimately deviates from playing up the quality of the game here.
How can anyone expect the fans to stay focused on the football when the country’s flagship football show fetishizes controversial discussion?
If the powers that be at BBC Scotland, Sportscene and within Scottish football are serious about talking up the game here, it’s about time they actually started doing it.
If they want a signpost for where to start, they should just look at what Match of the Day are doing with the Premier League down south.
Allegiances are laid bare, the football is properly analysed, there are no segments dedicated to kicking up a stink, having a dig or filling tabloid newspapers.
It’s properly entertaining coverage of a league and national game which those involved in are clearly passionate about.
There is no comparison with Sportscene and that’s not just because of the standard of player or riches down south.
Let’s be blunt here – the players, the fans and the game itself deserves much better than what it’s currently getting from BBC Scotland