England’s failure to win against Scotland was not down to the player’s performance, manager Gareth Southgate, or the intense derby atmosphere on a rainy night at Wembley. All of those factors pale into insignificance when you realise what channel the game was on for those watching at home. ITV.
For over two decades, England fans have suffered painful defeat after painful defeat at major tournaments on ITV, including the World Cup semi-final loss against Croatia, the 2016 humiliation against Iceland and the embarrassment against Romania back at France '98. Now the Three Lions face the Czech Republic on the very same ‘cursed’ channel.
When you dive deep into the statistics, as Lewis Matthews did on Twitter, the results make for stark reading. Since France ‘98, England’s record at major tournaments now reads as such:
ITV: P24 W4 D12 L8
BBC: P22 W15 D3 L4
That’s a win percentage of 16.66% on ITV, compared to an imperious 68.18% on BBC. Now we aren’t completely blaming Mark Pougatch for this, but that is an absolutely atrocious record, when the matches have been evenly split across tournaments between the two major channels.
Let’s take a look back to 2018, England’s most successful tournament in recent history. Group stage wins against Tunisia and Panama were both on the BBC, followed by a loss against Belgium (ITV). The only saving grace that ITV have is that they showed England’s first ever World Cup penalty shootout win - that famous night vs Colombia, although that goes down as a draw after 120 minutes for the record, as it would in a betting shop.
England’s quarter-final success vs Sweden was on the BBC, before the most heart-breaking defeat of the lot, Croatia, was shown on ITV. Even the third-placed play-off defeat to Belgium was on that flaming cursed channel. England didn’t win a single game in normal time on ITV in Russia.
Of course, some sceptics to this statistic may just point to the fact that the BBC gets to show the ‘easier’ matches, but in fact, according to the world rankings at the time, ITV have actually had the easier opponents. The average opponent on ITV has been 21st in the world rankings, compared to 19th on the BBC.
One of England’s four wins in major tournaments on ITV came against Germany ranked 6th at the time of Euro 2000, but even that was shown on the BBC at a time where some games were on both channels. The other three tournament wins solely on ITV - Switzerland at Euro 2004 (47th), Trinidad and Tobago at World Cup 2006 (47th) and Ukraine at Euro 2012 (52nd) were hardly the best opposition in the world. That also means the last time England won a game in normal time on ITV at a major tournament, Jude Bellingham was eight years old.
It goes beyond the multitude of defeats however. England’s woeful 0-0 draw with Algeria in 2010, and their 1-1 draw with the USA under Fabio Capello, featuring Robert Green’s howler, were both on ITV as well as the miserable draws with Russia and Slovakia at Euro 2016.
England now face Czech Republic in their final group game needing a win to top the group, but given the game is on the ‘cursed channel’, even that seems unlikely. In the round of 16, which luckily the Three Lions will reach even if they lose, their game will be on the good old BBC.
It seems the only way that football is ever coming home, is if the BBC exclusively buys the rights to every single England game at a major tournament.