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The Spin of Giles Clarke

Giles Clarke was a happy man today as the Government announced that future home Ashes series won’t be placed on the ‘Crown Jewels’ list (just yet), meaning it won’t have to be shown on free-to-air TV.

I happen to think it is a right decision of sorts. I don’t see what it gains by telling Sky they can’t cover one series every 4 years, but I also think it is wrong to have no live cricket of any sort on terrestrial TV.

For some reason or another, county cricket desperately needs the Sky money as it would seem to have become totally dependant on it. Now I’m no expert in business, but I would have to imagine it dosen’t make great business sense to become so dependant on one source of income as the ECB and counties have done on Sky.

From what Clarke kept on saying throughout this debate, if county cricket where to lose the Sky investment, it would be ruined. Is this just Clarke spinning it for maximum effect? I don’t know.

But thats another arguement and a question for Clarke to answer, or spin. Which brings me onto my real gripe with the man.

Earlier today on 5 Live radio, when asked about the impact of not having live cricket on terrestrial TV, Clarke claimed that people don’t have the time to watch sport these days, that they just dip in and out of watching it!

What utter rubbish.

He then backed up this pathetic theory by claiming that TV viewing figures of Wimbledon were down 41% this year. Now Clarke isn’t a stupid man, it surely wouldn’t have been lost on him that Wimbledon coincided with the football world cup this year. In what can only be described as a blatent piece of spin he rather conveniently forgot to mention this.

Now I don’t doubt for a minute that cricket would suffer losing this money, but I also don’t doubt that cricket suffers from not being on terrestrial TV.

What I object too, is being spun this rubbish from Clarke. Being continuously told by him that it is the BBC’s fault that cricket isn’t free-to-air any more, how they don’t bother bidding for the rights. Everyone knows the BBC can’t compete with Sky, that they have to justify where licence fee payers money goes.

He also knows damn well that the other terrestrial TV channels can’t compete with Sky either. And that even if they could afford too, none of them could justify paying the money as they couldn’t provide the air time for all the live cricket.

Clarke seems to think that by spinning these stories about the BBC and Wimbledon viewing figures etc, that we will all suddenly believe he is doing the right thing. Does he take us for fools or what? (Don’t answer that)

What I want to hear Clarke saying, is that in agreement with Sky, he is putting together a package for terrestrial TV. One that includes live cricket, whether that includes a bit of domestic T20, an international ODI, or one test match a summer, I don’t know, but there needs to be something.

He needs to strike a balance where he can keep a big pay check coming in from Sky, and give a sample of live cricket to the British public.

I’m not for a minute saying take cricket away from Sky, they do a great job, just give a bit to the majority of the public, the youngsters who are the future of cricket. Ok, losing the total exclusive rights will probably dilute the Sky contract in some way, but losing a generation of youngsters will also influence future contract negotiations when there are no decent players left to watch.

If Clarke was to bother to try offering this, and was then told by the terrestrial channels that they are not interested, then at least he could say he has tried, and he couldn’t be blamed for depriving cricket of it’s next generation of youngsters.

Would your cricket loving Buddies enjoy this?


  1. You’re right, Dean, there does need to be something other than the Five highlights, which seem to be the long and short of terrestrially televised cricket these days (and there may even be some parts of the UK that still can’t receive those). However, I don’t think there’s much desire to change what seems to have rapidly become the status quo – Clarke and the ECB simply can’t see beyond the fact that Sky can pay more, and, while it’s true that the game has benefited from the increased income, I’m not sure it’s being spent as wisely as it could.

    I have Sky and have mixed feelings about it. A definite advantage is that you never miss a ball, but you have to put up with endless, repetitive adverts and endless, repetitive analysis. While I’d love major cricket to go back to the BBC (if they could guarantee not to break for the news every hour or go off to cover a horse race when someone is 299 not out), I doubt if it’ll ever happen.

    Personally I also dislike the tendency of many in the media (although, to be fair they’re probably just reflecting the attitude of ‘the man in the street’) to regard Ashes’ series as the only cricket worth bothering about. Indeed, to many people these days it seems that ‘the Ashes ‘ = cricket, but that’s probably just the old fart in me coming out after a couple of great days watching Championship cricket this week.

    Clarke is indeed a clever man but my impression from a number of interviews is that he is a high-class purveyor of BS. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go into politics.

  2. Hi Brian, thanks for the reply.

    I think you’re right in your point that there dosen’t seem much desire in the ECB to change the status quo.

    Success to the sort of people running some of our sports these days seems to be based purely on the size of the incoming cheque, and nothing else matters.

    The attitude seems to be that the money makes up for all the other shortcomings, thats assuming that they even recognise any shortcomings. And I’m afraid the ECB seem to be going down the same road as the Premier league did a few years ago.

    I too have Sky, and I believe they intend putting the prices up again this summer, if it wasn’t for the Ashes I would probably tell them where to go this time.

    In an ideal world the BBC would cover it, but that is never going to happen unless the BBC undergo a radical change, as at the moment there is not the money, or the air time. Think they would need a BBC Sports channel, wouldn’t that be great!

    I also see cricket as far more than just the Ashes, I think the problem is that you get all the two week tennis fans, 4 day golf fans, 17 day snooker fans, etc etc, all jumping on the bandwagon when the Ashes starts.

    As for Clarke, he winds me up with his continuous excuse that no one other than Sky bids for live cricket.

    Why he can’t just put together a discounted terrestrial TV package I just can’t understand. Domestic T20 dosen’t take up too much air time for a start, it’s a very shortsighted view he takes.

    Only someone like ESPN could bid against Sky for the packages that he and his chums put together.

    He knows full well that no terrestrial TV company has the money or the air time to buy the rights to his complete live cricket package, it’s a truely digraceful spin. And you’re right, he wouldn’t be out of place in Westminster. Lets hope he gets there soon.