Villa fans have long been suspicious of the existence of an agenda by the BBC towards Aston Villa. It starts with an alleged bias by the Beeb towards London and Manchester clubs, and ends with the fact Villa’s games have tended to be on last on Match of the Day. Of course there are mitigating circumstances to the BBC’s behaviour, for which they can be forgiven, namely Villa have been pretty naff in recent seasons.
But there’s no excuse though for some of the commentary remarks made during the BBC’s live coverage of Villa’s quarter-final game. Remarks that have again come into focus after the polar opposite treatment the Reading fans were afforded during their pitch invasion.
Some people point to the pre-final whistle invasion, but we’ve already discussed the BBC’s reaction to the premature pitch celebration when fans thought the final whistle had gone. Lets not forget the Reading game also had pitch invader (doing flips on the pitch) during the game, alleged racial abuse of a player from the stands and also a Reading fan throwing a smoke ban into the Bradford fans end.
But as Gary Lineker said, these were ‘lovely scenes’.
Mark Lawrenson & Jonathan Pearce, BBC MOTD Live – Villa vs WBA
‘What you’re seeing there is not right and has soured the day I’m afraid’ – Jonathan Pearce on the game’s final whistle
“It’s like a scene from the 1980’s all over again, absolute ridiculous” – Mark Lawrenson on the game’s final whistle
Compare to Gary Lineker’s comments of “Lovely scenes” when describing the Reading fans coming on to celebrate after their club heading to Wembley after the final whistle:
Evaluation of the BBC’s MOTD Live remarks:
Anybody with an ounce of common sense would have seen that the fans who ran on the pitch on the 93.27 mark at Villa Park, thought the referee’s whistle had gone. Yes, you technically shouldn’t be on the pitch, but with such celebrations tolerated, was there any need for Jonathan Pearce (no stranger to the hyperbole approach to commentary) to declare, in reference to Tim Sherwood: “His face tells the story, his day has been ruined, his day has been completely ruined.”
Just how far from the truth could Pearce be?
Sherwood had guided his team to the FA Cup semi-finals and in his post-match interview completely understood the fan’s joyous reaction and he even dedicated the win to the Villa fans. He wasn’t having any of the BBC’s attempt to scandalise their joy.
While Lawrenson had labelled the Villa fans ‘idiots’, Gary Lineker to his credit, refused to offer a knee-jerk reaction like his BBC colleagues.
“Quite extraordinary scenes at Villa Park – the fans overly excited,” said Lineker, when the coverage switched to the studio. His neutral statement, while unsure in tone, was buying him time to see what the reality of the situation was.
Later Lineker dampened the outlook on the Villa Park celebrations after analysis of the game’s highlights.
“The scenes are going on here, I must say, it all seems in remarkably good spirits…after the game it’s sort of acceptable,” said Lineker.
Compare and contrast with the Reading vs Bradford game and his first words in reference to the Reading fans celebrating on the pitch were “Lovely scenes.”
If Lineker can see sense and understand the context of what he’s seeing, why can’t the BBC commentators?
During the coverage of the Reading vs Bradford game, the actual commentators seemed to ignore on the Reading fans running on the pitch at the end. It’s how it should have been and how it should have been at the Villa Park game.
Maybe this was because of the complaints by Villa supporters to the BBC, that MOMS had suggested (at least 200 fans send them in, that we know of). Villans have started to receive replies from the BBC stating the production team who did the live games would be informed. Maybe they just hedged their bets and avoided the subject when the Reading fans came on the pitch?
I just want to clarify, we have no problem with the Reading fans’ celebrations, we’re merely using them to contrast the hypocrisy of the BBC towards our own celebrations.
Afterwards, the media did its level best to blame Villa supporters for putting West Brom players safety at risk (we all know they did that themselves when they assaulted fans) and one nincompoop presenter on Talksport to jump on the bandwagon lamely held up ‘Health & Safety’ as the reason it shouldn’t have happen. You could make the same excuse for outlawing anything in life.
Yet, little to no mention of this incident of a smoke bomb being thrown at opposite fans at the Reading game in the media:
The BBC in both games set the tone for the corresponding media coverage.
The BBC’s standard response to most Villa fans’ complaints about what both Jonathan Pearce and Mark Lawrenson said, included these lines:
We appreciate that football is subjective and that fans hold a hugely diverse range of opinions, especially during a tense local derby such as this.
Mark Lawrenson and Jonathan Pearce were simply expressing their own views on what they could see at the moment in time.
What is subjective about inferring that fans running on the pitch at full-time are hooligans? There views are irresponsible, especially when the such scenes of a FA Cup pitch invasion are considered as “lovely” a week later by the same institution.
Surely the BBC must take action against Lawro and Pearce since their views obviously don’t tow the company line on pitch invasions based on this additional evidence:
Media Muppet Score: 10/10
Gary Lineker is excused (one of the best football presenters there has ever been), while full Media Muppet marks to both Mark Lawrenson and Jonathan Pearce
Let’s keep the pressure on and ask the BBC about their hypocrisy via their complaints form – http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/
Select ‘Television’, then ‘BBC1’, then ‘Live FA Cup Coverage’
Ask why after the final whistle, the on pitch celebration at Reading was described as ‘lovely scenes’ while Villa Park’s were described as “like a scene from the 1980’s all over again, absolute ridiculous”. Also, ask about the above BBC MOTD Tweet, declaring their love for FA Cup pitch invasions; they’ve chosen to avoid it when other Villa fans have mentioned it in earlier complaints.
It’ll be interesting to hear their reply and also give us something to do while the FA sorts out a date for our FA Cup semi final! UTV
the responses are standard BBC stuff, as you say, they get a couple of hundred and then send out a standard response. The complaints system is not designed to apologise but to defend their position. However the point that the initial celebration could have led to the game being called off is valid, but not likely to happen. If the BBC are to change their position, more is needed, and I would suggest writing to local MPs.
Since the event, the Reading Bradford game also saw a pitch invasion, though I don’t think this was during the game. It did however involve a flare being set off. I don’t have a recording of the incident and this would be worth having. If the Villa are punished but Reading-Bradford are not I would think this takes it beyond the BBC to the FA level. We will see. As far as I can recall though the invasion was after the whistle at Reading, there were players still on the pitch, but the footage would need to be scrutinized, and I don’t have the facility to record it. Does anyone?
The club were right legally to condemn, and I don’t think they have sold the pass, but I am not a lawyer. The issue for the FA is how to punish Villa and Reading as the home clubs, and WBA and Bradford if their supporters were involved. Wait and see what the FA do would be my advice on the wider issue.
However the position of the BBC commentators esp Lawrenson seems untenable. IF Lawrenson thinks this was a ‘return to the 80s’ he has forgotten what it was like.
I doubt we can argue there is an anti Villa bias in the BBC, its more they love the big clubs as their coverage on ceefax shows – big club player stubs his toe, its on the screen. No one else.
That is perhaps something supporters direct could take up. Not for us. What is worrying is that the BBC has the FA cup franchise this year, and we want objective coverage. Not favouritism, we don’t live in Manchester, Liverpool or London. Just fairness.
I complained – received a couple of days ago the same response. I am fuming – its outrageous the way the match was commentated upon. Villas PR was wrong to apologise so early as they should have reviewed the whole situation first. BBC hypocracy – Lawrenson should issue an apology – he was negative to Villa throughout the whole match and should have gone with Hanson.
I agree. Villa’s statement seemed to be quick to hang supporters out to dry. They didn’t back their own fans up. They should have said, they would be making an investigation and comment after the findings. Then they would have made a more rational statement. UTV
This would be an excellent issue for the Trust to take up, and I will suggest this to them. I watched the Reading game and immediately noted the comments made about the pitch invasion, and this is not the first time that double standards are shown over the issue. The BBC is always showing the Hereford – Newcastle game and nothing is said about the invasion at the end of that.
However do not get your hopes up about the BBC complaint form, and if anyone uses it please keep a record so what you say does not disappear into cyber space. I have a complaint with the BBC from early in the year, which got bigger in early February, and they promised me a reply in 20 working days unless people were busy in the Beeb.
Still waiting for a reply so I wrote to the Director General yesterday.
If the BBC doesn’t respond with an apology to Villa Fans then I suggest writing to the local MPs. The BBC was used as the model for the Ministry of Truth in the book 1984 and it is time it had a sharp change of direction.
Trevor – A lot of Villa supporters have had replies. A couple of BBC replies detailed in this – https://www.myoldmansaid.com/bbc-complaint-replies-aston-villa-supporters-fa-cup/
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