Isn’t it Time TV Stopped Pandering to the “We All Hate Leeds” Brigade? – by Rob Atkinson


Burton Albion & Sky Sports v Leeds United

Watching Leeds United on the telly has health implications for your standard Whites fanatic, the kind with the iconic LUFC running through them like a stick of rock. Football devotees in general, and Leeds fans in particular, are hardly known for their Zen-like state of calmness, and it frequently seems to me that the telly people are doing their utmost to wind me up with their continual sniping at Yorkshire’s Number One football club. Because, whenever I’m stuck with TV coverage as opposed to being there, I always end up feeling as though my blood pressure has spiked, and I’m left foaming at the mouth, longing to give some smug pundit the baseball bat treatment.

The Burton Albion game on Boxing Day was a case in point. The Championship minnows had enjoyed two victories on the trot, and Sky Sports were all a-flutter to see them make that three against Big Bad Leeds. When the Brewers took the lead with a narrowly offside goal, the commentators glossed over it – Ronaldo Vieira shouldn’t have stepped out, their logic ran, so it was bad defending. If Vieira had stayed put, the lad would have been onside – but the pundits weren’t in any mood to let facts interfere with their “Chuffed that Leeds are losing” position. For the time being, they were as happy as a scum fan with a new easy chair (though that had changed by the time Ronnie, living up to both his names, put Kemar Roofe in for the winner).

Right at the end of the first half, Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi sailed into a challenge on Burton man Sean Scanell, and what followed was highly instructive. It was the kind of tackle that, when perpetrated by some media darling in a Man U shirt, elicits a roguish chuckle from the commentators, with the remark “That would have earned you a new contract back in the day, but now it’s a wee bit naughty”. The fact is that Berardi won the ball – with both feet, admittedly. But only the ball suffered, no blood was shed and no bones were broken. Still, the pundits were all pursed lips and sanctimony; their outraged verdict was that our man could and should have seen red.

In the second half, it was yours truly seeing red, as Albion’s goalscorer Tom Naylor, delivered the classic over-the-top leg-breaker on Vieira, studs into Ronnie’s standing leg, an absolutely atrocious challenge. From the Sky gantry, there was only the most sheepish of reactions – “Ooh, that’s another bad one” etc. There was none of the red card bloodlust, none of the hysteria that Berardi’s comparatively innocuous challenge had prompted. On the day, both incidents resulted in yellow cards – harsh in Berardi’s case, and a gross under-reaction to the Naylor assault on Vieira. But it was the Sky reaction that was the most disgusting aspect of the whole matter; they even edited the Naylor foul out of their highlights package, focusing the disciplinary spotlight firmly on the Berardi challenge. Sky TV do seem to have a heavy hand in editing Leeds highlights – the other week, they even edited Gjanni Alioski’s sumptuous winning goal right out of their Barnsley v United clip, which is a tad harsh, even by their anti-Leeds standards.

The thing is, these are not isolated examples. It happens time and again, most weeks in fact. There’s usually some dedicated Leeds-hating has-been in the co-commentary seat, and always an anti-United spin on the description of pivotal events. It’s no mystery as to what’s behind it – hating the Elland Road boys is still a national preoccupation, a good four decades after the Super Leeds era that got them all in such a resentful froth. So it’s in broadcast media’s commercial interests to hype up the hate, just as it is for them to view Man U through sentimentally rose-tinted glasses, catering to their tragic legions of armchair TV subscribers. Both attitudes are commercially sensible – but it doesn’t make them right.

Let’s face it, Leeds United are big box office for Sky’s Championship coverage, and it’s about time a little bit more respect was shown, if not outright gratitude. That’s only right and just, not that these are words figuring prominently in any broadcaster’s lexicon. But, for the sake of my blood pressure if nothing else, and to prevent me hurling something at my costly flat-screen technology – it’s time for the TV companies to wise up, grow up, and lay off my beloved Leeds.

45 responses to “Isn’t it Time TV Stopped Pandering to the “We All Hate Leeds” Brigade? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Philip Wilkinson

    100% agree. I’ve thought this for a long time – and thought I was being over sensitive, and put up with the anti LUFC sentiment as a hugely irritating price to see TV covered matches. The commentary bias is, if anything, getting worse as the season develops. I feel somewhat vindicated now you’ve published this. Happy New Year.


  2. Mr Rearguard

    As soon as you mentioned ManU this video came to mind.


  3. Life is LUFC

    The trouble is Rob they know LUFC is THE number one club but they are not able to grow up and admit it. I feel rather sorry for them because they do not know the enjoyment of a family like we do.
    They have no idea about loyalty and even less about football. If only they took the time out to really listen to themselves they would then realise how uneducated and pathetic they really are…..
    Intelligence speaking….WE think not.


  4. You could quite easily have been describing me Rob.


  5. Stephen Nugent

    Stelling’s outrageous salivating over Phillips’ dismissal against Fulham and their subsequent equaliser, last season totally epitomised this anti Leeds bias


  6. It’s always been the same Rob, right from the sixties. They always bring the same old rubbish up, especially about “Super Leeds”. Aren’t you sick of forever being told how a modern day referee watched the 1970 cup final and said he would have sent all 22 players off. If you watch that on DVD you can see that Chelsea were the instigators of all the trouble and that they were guilty of the most and the worst fouls by about 4-1. They harp on and on about what the bitter Brian Clough said, yet aren’t old enough to remember, or just don’t, that Clough signed players of the calibre Dave Mackay, Willie Carling, Archie Gemmil, Alan Hinton, Kenny Burns, Stuart Pearce and Roy Keane. Of them only Mackay was of the quality of that little thug Bremner. All the others would have to pool their skills together to match Bremner.
    They edit their highlights packages to make Leeds look lucky. Some times we run teams into the ground yet they make the game look onesided the other way. But do you really care what they think. Backhanded compliments, they remember us, and that’s all the proof we need when they are debating wether we are a big club or not


  7. mark sanderson

    How true is this post. Even when they go around the grounds with some commentators Paul Walsh for one it’s all support the other team.
    I know the viewing number were big for sky or fox as it will be sports when LUFC are allowed on their screens.
    Why can’t we have an impartial comentry team for once.


  8. Absolutely spot on Rob. I thought the berardi tackle was the best of the game and standard fare on a cold Sunday morning on the soldiers field in Leeds!
    Their lad never attempted to play the ball and should have seen red all day long.
    It’s the same on Talk sport with scum, they barely go ten minutes without Brazil or some other has- been bigging them up.
    Part of me enjoys the hatred though. I genuinely feel superior to any scum fan, no matter what they’ve ‘accumulated’ over the years!


  9. Heather Ruane

    Glad it isn’t just me. The co-commentators pontificating over Berardi’s challenge on the ball (which made no contact whatsover with the Burton y player, who ‘opted out’ ) nearly had me throwing my mug at the TV – which would have been expensive. It doesn’t matter who is doing the commentary, it’s the same every time. It’s bad enough the players on the pitch waiving imaginary red cards in the face of the referee without commentators doing the same. What happened to neutral commentating? Bring back the days of Kenneth Wolstenholme or David Coleman and I might be able to watch the match with the sound on, without running the risk of suffering a stroke.


  10. You’re dead right Rob, shocking really how anti-Leeds the media are in general. I guess it makes us fans pull together even more but its a poor state of affairs. Here in China we have to make do with the highlights but its been nice viewing these past few weeks! Still spreading the word of LUFC here with some success – the Chinese are slowly learning theres more than one ‘United’ in English football!


  11. Brian Steele

    They never have Chris Kamara doing a Leeds game


  12. Paul Murfin

    Am I wrong to love it ? The more we win the more they get upset !
    We need to be so good that stupid officiating doesn’t matter, would love us to be hammering teams every week !


  13. David Shevill

    The ‘expert’ commentator was Danny Higginbotham who was born in Manchester and started his career with Scumchester Utd. He went on to play for Derby, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland.

    I’d say that explains a lot about his attitude. Shouldn’t be allowed to commentate on Leeds games.

    Don’t know who the other commentator was.


  14. Ken Jarvis

    Hi Rob,

    Just like the FA, why doesn’t the club write a formal complaint to Sky Sport about their anti-Leeds attitude. Both these organisations are a disgrace to the very ethics of fair play, especially where Leeds United are concerned.

    I said the exact thing about the 2 tackles to neutrals watching the game last Tuesday & was shocked to see that the Burton player’s tackle was airbrushed from Sky Sports highlights. It was a disgraceful tackle that should have been re-visited with a 3 match ban.

    Remember the Barnsley rugby tackle on Ayling recently when Sky Sports could only concentrate on get Ayling booked again but ironically forgot that the Barnsley lad should have walked for his second yellow card.

    Also, the horror elbow by the Reading player on Wood last season when Sky Sports could only concentrated on Cooper’s stamp in the same game that got him banned for 6 games but amazing that elbow never appeared on any Sky Sports News bulletins that evening.

    Time to stop Rob, so Happy New Year & let’s hope this is our year to get out of this bloody division.

    Keep up the good work as your articles are always spot on & a great read.



  15. I remember when Championship highlights were shown on Saturday nights on BBC1 Leeds game was always on last, now Ch5 are very often doing the same. They are all anti Leeds through jealousy.


  16. Michael Powell

    Disagree, I love em hating us……makes it mean more when ‘dirty Leeds’ get one over us. ALAW! MOT!


  17. I absolutely, totally agree with everything you have just said. This has been happening for years….it is as obvious as the Fergie watch intimidating the refs a few years back. The only time I have heard an unbiaised comment about Leeds from a pundit was once on football on 5 when Michael Gray said we played well and deserved the 3 points…I nearly fell off my chair.


  18. Paul Howson

    Excellent description of the Sky (anti-leeds) unprofessional pundits who continue to watch and comment on games with their rose tinted glasses! Well said Rob.


  19. Sue Millward

    It’s always the same . If one Leeds fan or player was to do something questionable the media would really milk it for what it was. Incidents happen in every team around the country but don’t get totally negative coverage like we do. People still call us dirty Leeds when they are referring to 50 odd years ago when ALL teams played full on tackles, it’s just that we were successful is what they didn’t like. Give us a break and credit for who Leeds really are


  20. Duncan Massive

    Back in ’75 I can recall a sniffy Jimmy Hill describing Leeds as ‘the existing champions’ because he couldn’t bring himself to say ‘reigning champions’. What a pillock. Funny what stays with you, hey?


  21. One of the worst for me is Don Goodman, who I believe was born in Leeds. He rarely, if ever, has a good word to say about us and cannot wait to point out our player’s misdemeanors, whilst almost completely ignoring those made against us. What has he got against us, as he drives me nuts ?


  22. Rob, you are spot on, and on a hiding to nothing, in complaining about biased media reporting of LUFC. TV channels covering football don’t even bother to reply to protests about bias – I guess they use the excuse that all fans think their team has been badly done by. Be that as it may, the media (and football’s authorities) promote Leeds as pantomime villains because it attracts audiences. Additionally, I suspect it influences match officials and match fixture planning – this is not to suggest that football is corrupt, of course! However, in this beautiful money-spinning game the losers are Leeds fans.


  23. Mike Durham

    Didn’t we reject Goodman as a kid to save time later? 😂


  24. Manjit Deo

    This Article is so well written and so very true I have sky as there are no other options I’m a season ticket holder at Leeds United and we get this treatment by sky and they hi light bad publicity when it comes to lufc


  25. Cheers Rob – will do! mot


  26. China White

    Turn the sound down and put on Noel Whelan and co …Get Innnnnnn!!


  27. Alan Wyn Williams

    Great article. I am 53 and followed the whites since 1971. I should have calmed down by now, but a bad day usually follows a Leeds poor desplay or defeat.
    I will always follow them, and live in hope that we will be a major force in the Premiership. Keep the faith Rob


  28. Grenvllle Hair

    Reminds of the Big Match in the 70s. ‘Later in the programme we go to Anfield where Leeds are bidding for the title – but first to the Shay, where Halifax Town entertained Workington’


  29. Hello mate great blog postt


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