The history of radio broadcast and English football is an interesting one, spanning over a century of technological advances and developments. From the first radio broadcast of an English football match in 1927, to the modern day Premier League broadcasts that reach millions of viewers every week, radio has been an integral part of the English football experience (Owens, 2009).
The first radio broadcast of an English football match was on the 18th of April 1927 between Arsenal and Sheffield United. This game marked the beginning of a new era, as radio broadcast allowed football fans to experience the action of the game without actually being present at the stadium. This was just the start of a long relationship between radio and English football, as radio broadcasts of football matches became increasingly popular throughout the 1930s and 1940s (BBC, 2002).
The 1950s saw a further development in the relationship between radio and football, as the BBC began to broadcast live commentary of every match of the Football League First Division. This was an important step in the evolution of radio broadcast and English football, as it allowed fans to experience the action in real-time, even if they couldn’t be at the stadium (BBC, 2002).
The 1960s saw the introduction of the first commercial radio broadcasts of English football, as local radio stations began to broadcast their own commentary of matches. This allowed fans to experience their local teams in a more personal way, as radio commentators were able to focus on the key moments of the game and bring the action to life (Carter, 2007; Deuze & McQuail, 2020).
As technology has advanced, so too has the way in which English football is broadcast on the radio. In the modern day, radio stations broadcast live commentary of every Premier League match, as well as providing analysis, opinion and debate. This has further enhanced the experience of football on the radio, as fans are able to gain a deeper insight into the game and its players (Müller, 2008).
Since the Premier League’s establishment in 1992, BBC Radio 5 Live has served as the league’s official national radio partner. Beginning in 2016–17, BBC Radio 5 Live will broadcast 144 live Premier League games each season. Offering in-game reporting and live commentary for every game, including Saturday 3 p.m. kick-offs. Averaging 140 live audio broadcasted Premier League games each season during the three seasons starting in 2019/20 to 2021/22 (Premier League, 2022c).
Radio broadcast has been an integral part of English football for over a century, and it is clear that this relationship will continue to thrive in the years to come. As technology continues to develop, radio commentators will be able to provide an even more immersive and engaging experience for football fans all over the world.
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