SPORTS low point of the weekend – and let’s get this post out before the non-Murray British players fall out of the French Open before lunchtime – was the moment Sky Sports pushed the climax of the Women’s FA Cup Final behind the ‘red button’ yesterday. Sky Sports Two had shown the full 90 minutes and then extra time, Chelsea and Birmingham were battling out an exciting 2-2 draw. But then it gets to the penalty shootout, a pretty important part, and Sky basically say: Right we’re off to Wembley for third tier men playing a play-off match, seeeeee yah, oh, but you can watch the pens if you press the red button. They didn’t use those words but it felt like that.
It meant some people using apps and things to get their Sky and some networks got to watch the whole game but not the ending. The red button, it turns out, doesn’t work everywhere. There is an argument as to whether Huddersfield vs Sheffield United was a more pressing engagement (as it happened it finished 0-0 with minus two shots on goal). But whatever match you thought was more important, Sky does have four channels and if you are going to show a cup final, let’s see it until the end.
What feels rough is that this is the moment for Women’s Football to kick on, and when things like this happen it must feel like a slap in the face for everybody working on the new Super League, for everybody trying to show that the women’s game is now more watchable than ever.
Give it a try. Yesterday was end to end stuff, and it’s weird but pleasing to watch a match with so little of the diving or gamesmanship that infects the men’s game. The excitement did not deserve to be banished to red button. I wrote in the New Journal last year during the World Cup: Wouldn’t it be great if the game could kick on from here somehow in the UK by cementing a pro-league and building up teams so Arsenal don’t win everything and the best players don’t feel tempted to depart to more lucrative opportunities in the United States. Get it on the box more.
Arsenal aren’t winning everything. There is a big effort with the pro-league. Now, let’s get it on the box more.