TV and radio presenter Danny Baker has attacked the panels of professional football pundits currently dominating our screens, insisting they fail to reflect the interests and concerns of fans.
Baker, a passionate football supporter who is hosting a World Cup Show for BT Sport, told RadioTimes.com that the professional pundit of the kind currently gracing BBC and ITV coverage of the Brazil tournament is engaging in a “bogus science” that is of little interest to most followers of the sport.
He said: “Anyone who takes football in any degree seriously and treats it like a science that we study – mainly the people who sit on sofas on mainstream television like [US Presidential monument] Mount Rushmore and pore over this stuff like Nostradamus like you can predict it, are wrong. It’s the same old thing. Football punditry is the most bogus science.
“You know, we [England] are not the best team in the world, but it is very hard to say consistently who is. Football’s chaos. If we played the World Cup again next week, we probably wouldn’t get the same results and we might do well. You cannot predict it.”
Baker also had harsh words for ex-professionals who dominate the football studios: “It’s not really about 4-5-1s and all these terrible things journalists and ex-pros go on about. And that’s the trouble with too many ex-pros doing football coverage. They’d rather have someone who can barely speak English just because they’re an inspirational ex-footballer than someone who can enlighten and entertain. It is an extraordinary closed club.”
Asked which football pundits in particular irritate him most, Baker declined to give names and said that Match of the Day anchor Gary Lineker is “one of the best broadcasters in the world”, adding “but he sometimes gets saddled with people who don’t match the energy of the games.”
Baker, a Sony Award winner who has worked for a host of radio stations including Radio 1, Virgin and BBC London, said that some footballers criticise professional broadcasters like him who have never played the sport at the top level, but added: “They’re quite willing to walk into my industry and assume they can do that”.
He said: “I think having exclusively footballers punditing football matches makes as much sense as having actors review films. As far as I know, the BBC doesn’t have actors reviewing films because they used to be in them, but that applies to football for some reason, you know. It makes as much sense as replacing [film critic] Mark Kermode with Tim Roth.”
Baker said that Baker & Kelly Not in Rio – in which he and Danny Kelly reflect on the tournament with celebrity and sporting guests – aims to remedy the problems he has identified and bring some of the fun most football fans associate with the game into their broadcasts.
“All we do on our show is just try to reflect conversations that football supporters actually have.”
Baker & Kelly Not in Rio, hosted by Danny Baker and Danny Kelly, is live on BT Sport 1 from 7-8pm each night through the World Cup