Review: Fever Pitch! misses the goal when it comes to the history of the Premier League

As a fan of a lower league club – Tranmere Rovers, as you asked – I freely admit I’m resentful of the Premier League. Resentful of the way it presents itself as the only football ever played, resentful of the way it hoovers up money and attention, resentful of the way its member clubs seek to exclude others and bend the game to suit themselves.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 5:00 pm

And Fever Pitch! The Rise of the Premier League (BBC2, Mon, 9pm) only served to fuel that resentment. The first episode of a six-part series was a glossy yet superficial look at the beginnings of England’s football behemoth.

There’s little about the struggles football faced before the 90s, the riots, the disasters like the Bradford fire and Hillsborough, the dwindling attendances.

No, Fever Pitch! was a clip show, featuring all the usual images we know so well from the early days of Sky’s showbiz-ification of football – Eric Cantona, Shearer banging in piledrivers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd cavorting on the pitch as ‘Fergie Time’ enters football folklore.

Football 'hard man' Vinnie Jones was one of the ex-players featured in a new BBC documentary series, Fever Pitch! The Rise of the Premier League

Dave Hill, Sky’s head of sport at the time, says: “We had to make people realise the FA Premier League was not the same game.”

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And, as seems the norm these days, there is nothing from the fans. Left marginalised, their voice is lost amid the clamour for glamour.

You can’t deny the Premier League has had huge benefits, but what Fever Pitch! doesn’t look at – so far – is the cost. Call it sour grapes, but this series is not going to make me fall in love with ‘the best league in the world®’. Not when it already seems besotted with itself.

A House Through Time (BBC2, Tues, 9pm) returned, this time in Leeds, and was as fascinating as ever. David Olusoga’s look at the history of a single house and its occupants was compelling.

Annika (Alibi, Tues, 9pm) took some getting used to, but having persevered I’m starting to really like this police drama, starring the brilliant Nicola Walker, who cracks crime while breaking the fourth wall.

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