Modern foot­ball

The Observer - Sport - - Football -

What’s hap­pen­ing?

An era- defi ning piece of mid­week foot­ball broad­cast­ing. 35 years af­ter Th e Big Match showed its fi rst live game, this week there are 39 live games on UK TV from Tues­day to Th urs­day.

* 39*?

39. It’s a blend of Cham­pi­ons League, Europa League, Women’s Cham­pi­onship, Chi­nese Su­per League, Uefa Youth League and an Aus­tralian Cup tie, bulked up by an en­tire Cham­pi­onship pro­gramme.

Th at Mitchell & Webb “All the foot­ball, all the time” sketch was fi rst shown 12 years ago. Way ahead of its time.

Hold on. Th e en­tire Cham­pi­onship mid­week pro­gramme is on TV? Cor­rect. Th ere are eight full mid­week pro­grammes this sea­son, ev­ery game of which is be­ing broad­cast live on Sky via the red but­ton.

Th is week there are seven matches on Tues­day – mean­ing ded­i­cated red- but­ton fans can de­vote 13 min­utes to each – and fi ve more on Wed­nes­day. Any highlights, then? Leeds are well worth 13 min­utes of any­one’s time. Th ey host Pre­ston on Tues­day with pun­dits ask­ing if the Marcelo Bielsa ( pic­tured) rev­o­lu­tion can sur­vive Pa­trick Bam­ford’s four- month lay­off . Th ey were held 1- 1 yes­ter­day at Mill­wall. Among the other top- end sides, Frank Lam­pard’s Derby – their offi cial ti­tle now – play Black­burn , look­ing to shake off yes­ter­day’s 1- 0 de­feat by Rother­ham, and, on Wed­nes­day, Mid­dles­brough host Bolton , who sur­vived an­other ad­min­is­tra­tion scare last week. Sh­effi eld United face Birm­ing­ham. And the other sub­plots? Th ere’s a chance to mon­i­tor Stoke’s bruis­ing start to the sec­ond tier on Tues­day as Gary Rowett, on the rocks, takes on fel­low for­mer Premier League side Swansea. Else­where, West Brom, far­ing a bit bet­ter, play Bris­tol City; Read­ing play Nor­wich; and Mill­wall make the short, sparky jour­ney west to QPR.

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