The BBC is facing a backlash after dropping the 5pm Saturday classified results on Radio 5 Live – ending a British radio institution described as the nation’s “comfort blanket”.
The results of all major English and Scottish matches have been read out on BBC radio since the early 1950s, and have been a post-match fixture for football fans across the country.
Now the corporation has been accused of “cultural vandalism” after quietly getting rid of the service this Saturday – the first day of the new Premier League season.
What are the classified results?
The full results service has been read out on Sports Report, the world’s longest-running sports radio programme, since the 1950s. The show is perhaps famous for two things – the galloping out of the blue theme tune by Hubert Bath, and the distinctive intonation of the presenters reading out the scores.
Charlotte Green took over reading the update after James Alexander Gordon, who institutionalized the practice, stepped down after 40 years in 2013. Gordon, who died a year later, once told the BBC his signature style, which transformed simple scorelines into a must-listen for many, came from his training as a musician.
He said: “I think music had a lot to do with the way I read them. I looked at these names and thought, unkindly, five minutes of that could be very boring for the listener. I thought it would be nice to make it a little different, with a bit of excitement.”
BBC bosses say the decision has been driven by the need to “condense” Sports Report because of the 5.30pm Premier League kick-offs.
What has been the reaction?
Football fans took to social media as people slowly started to realize what had happened two days earlier. Many reflected on how listening to the results had been a family tradition, and that the service still had a place even when results are available instantly on smartphones.
The poet Ian McMillan said: “RIP the beautiful and profound sound poem of the classified football results on Sports Report. Now we have all lost at home.”
Former Liverpool defender and broadcaster Mark Lawrenson tweeted: “Can’t believe the BBC have dropped the Reading of the Classified results on Sports Report…..Talk about an OG..!!” in response.
Can’t believe the BBC have dropped the Reading of the Classified results on Sports Report…..Talk about an OG..!! WTF….🤦🏻🤦🏻🤦🏻
— Mark Lawrenson (@MTLawrenson) August 8, 2022
The reading of the classified football results on Sports Report has always been part of the Saturday match-day fabric for many fans. @5liveSport @bbc5live decision to scrap the service shows a lack of understanding of fans. It’s about continuity, the pyramid, information…
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) August 8, 2022
Only discovered today that @5liveSport have axed the classified reading of the football results at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon. OK, times change but – win or lose – thousands of football fans will mourn the passing of that welcoming winter comfort blanket.
— Tony Jones (@tonyjonescomm) August 7, 2022
Do I miss the classified football results? Or do I just miss listening to them with my dad in the car when I was 10 years old. Hard to say!
— Jack Pitt-Brooke (@JackPittBrooke) August 8, 2022
RIP the beautiful and profound sound poem of the classified football results on Sports Report. Now we have all lost at home.
— Ian McMillan (@IMcMillan) August 8, 2022
It’s precisely because you can tap your phone to get them that the BBC shouldn’t be scrapping the classified results.
They’re an escape from tapping your phone: a minute or two of peace and shared experience to reflect, say, on Harrogate winning away at Grimsby. https://t.co/RhobWgNkFJ
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) August 8, 2022
Gonna miss that moment on Saturdays when everyone stops tweeting for 3 mins to respectfully listen to the classified football results
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) August 8, 2022
The classified football results are gone?
First thing you do when getting in the car after a match! 🤷🏻♂️
— Charles Dagnall (@CharlesDagnall) August 8, 2022
Football Supporters’ Association chair Malcolm Clarke was among those who urged the BBC to reconsider its decision.
He said: “The classified football results on the radio have been one of the great traditions of British football.
“Listening to the classified results has always been one of those beloved, shared routines for match-going fans.
“This feels like yet another of football’s great traditions has gone and it is a deeply regrettable decision from the BBC – I hope they will think again.”
But some suggested the decision was understandable.
In 2022 do we still need a form of the classified football results to tell us what happened when that time could be used telling listeners — whether through manager interviews, pundits or on site reporting — why it happened?
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) August 8, 2022
At the risk of upsetting, er, everyone: Wonder how many of the people devastated about the classified football results actually intentionally tuned in/relied on it last season, or is it just something being mourned because we liked it in the past?
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) August 8, 2022
Some supporters have taken matters into their own hands, with a petition launched on Monday afternoon aiming to convince BBC bosses that the service is still relevant.
The petition reads: “Though scores are available online, mobile, and on the TV, there has always been the tried and trusted method of getting in the car, or listening to the radio on the move.
“If your mobile coverage fails you (as it often does in congested football grounds), there is always Sports Report to tell you how the rest of the football pyramid fared today.
“Sports Report is indeed a shortened affair these days, but as fans, we would prefer to sacrifice a manager’s interview than do away with an institution that has served us and the footballing world for decades.”
What did he BBC say?
A BBC spokesperson said: “With the addition of the 5:30pm live Premier League match to our coverage, Sports Report has been condensed into a shorter programme.
“We will still offer a comprehensive goal service throughout the day on air and on the BBC Sport website as well as Final Score on BBC One. We would like to thank everyone who has read the classified football results on 5 Live over the years.”