Did One Game Change the Whole Commercial Potential of Football?


It’s the 26th May 1989, and English football is at an all time low. The hooliganism years of the 70s and 80s are still fresh in the minds of everyone and added to that football tragedies at Heysel in 1985, the fire at Bradford City’s Valley Parade stadium also in 1985, and only six weeks earlier the devastating Hillsborough disaster meant English football wasn’t in a great state. However, one thing still had to be decided in the 1988-1989 Division One season, and that was the league championship.

Because of the Hillsborough disaster the fixture between the two title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal had to be rescheduled to the evening of the 26th May, which was a Friday night. The season had already finished, the FA Cup had been won by Liverpool the previous week and they were on the brink of a momentous double. But standing in their way was Arsenal who could snatch the title away from Liverpool. The equation was pretty simple. Arsenal had to go to Anfield and win by two clear goals to secure the championship…2-0, 3-1, 4-2…you get the idea! 

What made the evening even more special was that the game was being shown live to the nation on ITV, who had the broadcasting rights to show live top division matches from 1988 to 1992. Having a live match on TV back then was pretty much a luxury, compared to today where it seems there’s a game live everyday from any league or country in the world. 

ITV reported that eight million people tuned in to watch the match with thousands more going to switch on in the second half. As the game’s on ITV there’s the long commercial breaks which for any advertiser during the game is like gold dust, showing your brand to not far off ten million viewers back then wasn’t that common. However, little did those advertisers know how lucrative those commercial slots were going to be. Also the sponsors of the league, Barclays, when they signed the deal to sponsor the league wouldn’t have imagined how much their brand would be exposed to the millions watching on TV and at the game. 

Earlier that day it was reported that the satellite channel BSkyB, run by Rupert Murdoch, was going to launch in the next year…something which was going to change the face of football further.

But now to the game which before it even started was going to be historic no matter what the outcome, as rarely do two title rivals meet on the final day for a winner takes all cup style game. The game begins and is 0-0 at half-time, but just after the second half Arsenal get a free kick and Alan Smith heads the gunners into the lead, Arsenal lead 1-0. Although winning 1-0 won’t be enough to win the championship. The game continues and no team can score the next crucial goal and as we head into stoppage time it’s still 1-0 and looks like Arsenal will heroically win but leave without the trophy. 

Back in the old days of classic football there wasn’t really any time added on, but due to an injury to Kevin Richardson the game goes past the 90th minute mark. John Barnes runs down the touchline and instead of going to the corner flag tries to go through the Arsenal defence to get the equalising goal, but is tackled. And I’ll now let the legendary commentator Brian Moore talk you through the closing stages…

“Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack. A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith, for Thomas, charging through the midfield. Thomas, it’s up for grabs now! Thomas! Right at the end! An unbelievable climax to the league season”. 

And that’s it, Arsenal score with the last kick of the last game of the season and snatch the title away from Liverpool to win 2-0 in the most dramatic finish ever to a English top division season. But for the millions watching on TV they’ve seen a bit of history and ITV’s coverage sees an all time record audience for a domestic football match. More importantly those that watched and enjoyed the match are more than likely to watch again or begin visiting their favourite clubs ground. For ITV it was a clear sign that live football has a future and if you offer them the chance to watch it, they will, and love it. Obviously not every game will have that dramatic nature to it, but it proves that ITV should show more games in the next three years of their broadcasting deal, which they duly did. 

Just over a year later and England reach the semi-finals of Italia 90 and with the release of the Taylor Report in 1990 about how to make stadiums safer, English football was starting to go on the up again.

Most significantly in 1992 the Premier League was launched and Sky invested £304 million for exclusive TV rights. As the years progress and more money is pumped into the league from TV broadcasters, sponsors, investors and commercial businesses the value of the Premier League gets higher and higher. The global reach to billions all over the world only makes the Premier League even more lucrative. The current UK TV rights held by Sky Sports and BT Sport are astonishingly valued at £3 billion! Plus all the global rights! This injection of money has helped the game so much to improve stadiums, facilities, the ability to buy the best players and create a global presence for clubs all over the world. 

However, if it wasn’t for one game that enticed millions to watch and for commercial partners to untap the huge revenue potential of live football, would the Premier League be the richest league in the world?

My view is the game in 1989 showed businesses and the public alike that live football was a great spectacle with a commercial opportunity to invest in it. As a result this definitely culminated in the renaissance of English football that night and gave it such a bright commercial future. 

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment 🙂




My Trip to see The Apprentice: You’re Fired

(An article about how Series 9 Episode 2 of The Apprentice: You’re Fired was recorded. Warning: contains spoilers)

To continue the theme of my Apprentice blogs on a Wednesday I will now answer the question that I’m sure many Apprentice fans have been asking…’I wonder how they film The Apprentice: You’re Fired?’. Well fear not, this blog will hopefully answer that huge question!

As previously mentioned I’m a MASSIVE Apprentice fan so every year since The Apprentice: You’re Fired began I’ve applied to be on the waiting list to be in the audience of the show…and this year I finally got through!

My tickets were to see the second episode in the series, the task where the candidates had to create a flavoured beer.

The Apprentice: You’re Fired is filmed in the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London, and I recommend that if you go get there early as the queue to get in is very long! Although you have your ticket and they have your name on the list, it’s still good to get to the front of the queue to get a good seat.

I walked into the famous studio with The Apprentice boardroom music playing in the background which only increased the excitement! Whilst walking in you’re handed The Apprentice You’re Fired/Hired cards…one of the most important parts of the show!

The floor manager then comes on and rallies the audience by getting us to practice our clapping for when Dara Ó Briain and the candidate come on. He then introduces us to the cameras and warns us not to use our phones or else we’ll be asked to leave!

We then watch the entire episode in the studio on one of the numerous TV screens…although Dara Ó Briain and the panel on You’re Fired aren’t watching it with us unfortunately. Once the episode is finished the floor manager returns to remind us that we can’t tell anyone the result of who got fired as this would ruin the surprise!

There’s then a small break whilst the TV screens on the stage are taken away and the cameras wheeled in…then the main man of the show, Dara Ó Briain, is introduced to the audience to cheers and claps! Dara talks to the audience and makes us laugh before the You’re Fired panel come onto the stage. The three panellists for this particular episode were comedian Ed Byrne, broadcaster Sara Cox and co-founder of Brew Dog, James Watt.

The camera checks are done and the floor manager reminds us to be nice to the fired candidate who’s likely to be very nervous so give him a good reception! Then ACTION! We’re off and running the cameras are rolling! The fired candidate Tim Stillwell comes out to a great reception (probably because he was such a nice guy) which I’m sure relaxed him!

Then the show is filmed in full until the big moment for the audience comes as we’re asked whether Lord Sugar was right or wrong to fire the candidate. Hold up ‘You’re Fired’ if you think he was right or hold up ‘You’re Hired’ if you think he was wrong. I held up You’re Hired as I thought Lord Sugar got it wrong…and so did most of the audience!

The filming of the programme went on for about 45-50 minutes which meant they had to cut down a far bit to get it down to the 30 minute programme. Once the recording is done the floor manager tells us that some shots need to be redone, so he tells Dara and the panel which parts of the show they need to do again…and basically say the same thing they said before! We were quite lucky as only a few bits had to be recorded again.

Once the production crew are happy with the cut we are told to leave the studio section by section. However, before we go I had to get a quick photo of me with the You’re Hired card as a memento of the day. Then we leave the studio and unfortunately have to give the card back 😦 And then that’s it, all done!

So when Wednesday came I was sitting there whilst watching The Apprentice rather smug having already known who got fired! And here’s The Apprentice: You’re Fired episode I saw…but I don’t think you can see me in it though!

Overall it was an unbelievable experience that I’ll never forget!

And you can apply for tickets on the Lost in TV website to be part of the You’re Fired audience.

Thanks for reading my blog and enjoy The Apprentice tonight!


The Apprentice Quick Fire(d) Q&A’s

Due to my university exams and assignments I’ve neglected my blog for sometime…however now I’m making it my mission to blog a bit more!

With The Apprentice on tonight, and because I’m a MASSIVE fan of the show, here are some quick fire or quick fired questions and answers on my views of all nine series’ of The Apprentice. Let’s go!

Favourite Ever Series: Series 3

Favourite Ever CandidatesRaef (Series 4), Ansell (Series 2), Tre (Series 3), Lee (Series 4), James (Series 5), Tom and Susan (Series 7), Gabrielle and Nick (Series 8), Tim and Jason (Series 9)

Favourite Type of Tasks: Interviews, finding items from a list, design tasks, advertising, week one selling tasks

Favourite Ever Task: Series 4 – Buying a set list of items in the marketplaces of Marrakesh, Morocco

Favourite Winner: Tom (Series 7)

Best Firing: The double firing from Series 4 of Jennifer and Jenny during the Marrakesh task

Most Useless Candidate Ever: Noorul (Series 5) Absolutely hopeless!!!

Most Annoying Candidate Ever: Helene (Series 4) Think she was horrible to everyone…

Funniest Candidates Ever: James (Series 5), Jim (Series 7), Tre (Series 3), Syed (Series 2), Paul (Series 2), Jason (Series 9)

Apprentice Candidates I’ve Seen/Spoken to: Chris (Series 6), Joy (Series 6), Tim (Series 9), Kate (Series 5), Ricky (Series 8)

I’d love to hear your answers to these, or if you have any other questions, please do comment 🙂

Enjoy The Apprentice tonight!!!