After Monsieur Salut began this discussion of a pressing problem for many expats (ie those in countries without comprehensive TV coverage of the Premier League live), Sunderland AFC announced a free-for-all option, offering live radio commentary and retrospective video highlights, which you can read about at this link: https://safc.blog/2013/08/video-kills-the-radio-subs-and-other-top-fan-friendly-sunderland-gestures/ …
Margaret Byrne, the Sunderland AFC chief executive, Gary Hutchinson, commercial director, and Louise Wanless, media and communications manager, were so good to our Hong Kong diarist Paul Goldsmith and other fans on the recent visit to the Orient that Salut! Sunderland is happy to return the favour.
Let us spread word about the live matchday commentary available, for those unable to pick up BBC Radio Newcastle directly, via the club site.
Like many expats or semi-expats, I fiddle with the various internet streams and, occasionally, watch a match more or less intact and uninterrupted once I’ve worked out how to kill off the initial barrage of pop-up ads.
More often than not, I give up in despair as streams disappear, the picture freezes or commentary lags behind the images. Sometimes, I’m asked to download things that won’t download, or I don’t want to pay for, in order to watch. Other times, the commentary isn’t even in a language I understand. My part of the expat world is France, in an area with no bars likely to screen ordinary Premier League games, so catching televised coverage is rare.
And I often retreat to the radio commentary. The present team of Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett, a former player for whom I and many other supporters retain great affection, is excellent, striking precisely the right balance between partisanship and fairness. It has been known to let me down, and my Mac requires me to refresh the link every so often, but is generally reliable. People able to listen to Radio Newcastle naturally have no such problems.
For this, which includes other SAFC TV services, I pay £3.99 a month. The annual cost, when last I had a year’s subscription, was cheaper than 12 times the monthly rate but I could find no clue on the club site – the link is http://www.safc.premiumtv.co.uk/page/elements/html/SAFC/TV/Home/0,,10281~226~17903,3,00.html – and the switchboard line, which charges you above your network rates just for calling it, rang out for a few minutes before reaching a dead end. There is an a-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The good news is that the BBC Newcastle has signed up to continue live commentary of every game, home and away, until 2017.
Nick Barnes told safc.com: “It’s an absolute privilege to be at every Sunderland game and I’m sure this season will be a hugely exciting one to commentate on.”
Gary Hutchinson added: “The club has enjoyed a fantastic partnership with BBC Newcastle over the years and we are delighted that they have committed to the club on a long-term basis.
“They provide a first-class service to Sunderland fans as our official commentary partner and have demonstrated their on-going support and commitment to Sunderland, something which we hugely appreciate.”
I’d much prefer to be in the ground. I’d also prefer, as the best alternative, to have real-time, dependable TV coverage. Old-fashioned as it may seem, I find radio commentary, when of the quality Barnes and Benno achieve, a completely acceptable and, in odd ways, occasionally more enjoyable way of following the game.
* See all four parts of Paul Goldsmith‘s hugely popular diary, in words and pictures, from Sunderland’s visit to Hong Kong for the Barclays Asian Trophy: https://safc.blog/category/salut-guests/hong-kong-diary/
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