MATT BARLOW: Clive Tyldesley is the latest victim of the pursuit of younger audiences

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Clive Tyldesley was sacked from the lead commentary role with ITV football earlier this week


MATT BARLOW: Clive Tyldesley is the latest victim of the relentless pursuit of younger audiences… even if commentary is a matter of taste, he is one of the defining voices of football’s modern era

  • Clive Tyldesley was sacked from lead role with ITV football earlier this week
  • He was the latest victim in the pursuit of the eyes and ears of young audiences 
  • Sam Matterface will take on the role of lead commentator from next season
  • The BBC appear determined to sabotage Radio 5 Live by letting big names go 

And so Clive Tyldesley became the latest sacrificial offering on the world’s eternal quest for the eyes and the ears of the youth.

Quietly shuffled aside after 22 years as ITV’s lead football commentator. Although, then again, not so quietly, once Tyldesley launched his homespun video and his disappointment gripped the social media world.

Down the lens, voice cracking with emotion his words were delivered in stark contrast to ITV’s faceless executive statement and the bafflement of this football-loving nation was entrenched.

Clive Tyldesley was sacked from the lead commentary role with ITV football earlier this week 

Tyldesley shared a video online, saying he is baffled by the decision to take away his role

Tyldesley shared a video online, saying he is baffled by the decision to take away his role

Tyldesley is knowledgeable, well respected among peers, very popular inside the game and, above all, an excellent commentator.

Even if commentary is a matter of taste, he is one of the defining voices of football’s modern era, the man behind the microphone in those days when the Champions League used to reach us on terrestrial television, at no additional cost.

He has soothed the pain of England’s regular anguish and World Cup tournaments and European Championships, and enhanced the occasion rather than sent viewers scrambling for the mute button.

At 65, he seemed to be as sharp and astute as ever. Perhaps he has upset someone, although he hardly seems the type.

It was not a decision taken in the name of diversity. Sam Matterface, a younger white male, will replace him and will doubtlessly do a very good job, because, he too is an accomplished commentator. 

Sam Matterface will be taking over as the lead football commentator for ITV from next season

Sam Matterface will be taking over as the lead football commentator for ITV from next season

Tyldesley has been the voice of England games and tournaments on ITV for several years

Tyldesley has been the voice of England games and tournaments on ITV for several years

Beyond the idea of making a change for the sake of change, it was hard to fathom out why ITV’s football team might want to displace their senior commentary voice.

Jeff Stelling had a theory. ‘Ageism alive and well in UK broadcasting,’ said the 65-year-old host of Sky’s Soccer Saturday on Twitter. Stelling, master of finding the right words in the midst of chaos on a frenetic match day, hit the bullseye again.

Sources at ITV, though, say claims of Tyldesley’s demotion being down to his age are wide of the mark.

Sky Sports have lead football commentator Martin Tyler who is still quite brilliant and going strong deep into his 70s but, elsewhere, is a relentless urge to stay ahead of the curve.

There is a tiresome thirst for reinvention and the by-product is to discard those advancing in years.

It has happened before. It will happen again. Suddenly, the most recognisable voices, those present through so many memorable sporting moments are gone and another bond is broken.

He was also at the forefront of the action when we could watch the Champions League on ITV

He was also at the forefront of the action when we could watch the Champions League on ITV

The BBC appear determined to sabotage Radio 5 Live by allowing – even encouraging – so many of their best presenters to disappear from the airwaves, including Mike Ingham, Garry Richardson and Cornelius Lysaght.

It is an endless pursuit of the next generation, as though a young audience is incapable of appreciating the value experience, or might not enjoy the sound of old people who have perfected their style sharing their knowledge.

All of which culminated on the day when Jack Charlton died and Radio 5 Live were found wittering on about celebrities who smell nice rather than devoting time to reflect on one of the genuine giants of English football.

All in the name of progress.

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