THERE is much football can teach us. This introduction would normally be a prelude to matters of character, personality and, perhaps, the significance of the nominally trivial.

Instead, my ramblings this week are going down another route. It is one that is signposted with hypocrisy but does contain substantial lessons.

They may best be illustrated by two observations on the beautiful game. It always amuses me when the matter of remuneration for players is raised. This discussion is always invariably accompanied by the words “obscene” and “doctors and nurses”.

The disparity between Cristiano Ronaldo, cleaning up in financial terms at a series of elite clubs, and Oor Aggie, cleaning up in ward 4, is, of course, absurd. But this is not the fault of a Portuguese football player. This is capitalism.

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The hypocrisy comes when those who support capitalism, indeed protest loudly there is no alternative, pipe up loudly over the salaries for characters – regularly nurtured in favela, ghetto or housing estate – who are simply the beneficiaries of market economics.

There is nary a whimper from those on the right when a hedge fund manager makes a comparable salary and has tax arrangements that means he contributes the equivalent of a penny chew to the national exchequer.

The second observation is more acute as it has been made abundantly clear in the past few weeks and has become unavoidable in the past few days.

It concerns the attitudes, comments and sentiments over the network coverage of the Euro 2020. These are mitigated, on occasion, when “local” broadcasters take over the mics for their national team.

STV and BBC Scotland can thus give a coverage that is nuanced to what they believe are the imperatives of their audience.

All other games, of course, are conducted by the networks. It can create much irritation. The football equivalent of the first cuckoo of spring is the first mention of 1966 in an England football commentary. A mate pointed out that this occurred in the first minute of the first game. To which, I could only reply: “What took them so long?”

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Lazy and unsubstantiated analysis suggests, too, that the Gazza goal against Scotland in 1996 has been shown more often than the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination.

This is all perfectly understandable when one appreciates the reality of network television. First, many producers do not countenance the existence of anything north of Islington. Many years ago on a foreign trip I was grabbed by a London producer who insisted that I must know his mate who was a journalist “in your area”. I asked where precisely. He replied: “Morpeth.”

It is the sort of anecdote that is normally suffixed by the lame protestation: “This is a true story.” But I know it is accurate because a mate on the trip overheard it and repeats it as often as the Beeb reprises the Last of the Summer Wine and to similar groans.

The concentration on England represents a desire to talk to the majority of the audience.

The tales of 1966 and 1996 are part of that fanbase’s history, with the former date the only achievement of substance for a national side that majors in promise and fails in execution. If we Scots had a 1966, I would insist on the number being incorporated in logos, team badges and the name of the sports channel. Failure by a commentator to mention it at least every 10 minutes would be grounds for dismissal.

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I do not therefore begrudge the references to Wembley in the sun or to Gazza In his pomp, but it points to a more problematic practice.

This lack of awareness of an audience beyond the majority is a staple of football but it is also part of wider news coverage. The network news channels will routinely lead with a story that has only implications for England and Wales and only mention this as an addendum.

It will largely ignore or downgrade stories that occur outside its bubble. This applies to Yorkshire as well as to Scotland. It can be illustrated by how the protest in May that freed two people from an immigration enforcement van in the the south side of Glasgow was handled by decision-makers in London.

This was an outstanding tale. It raised questions over the very essentials of law. Should people protest against what they regard as bad laws? It prompted reflections on the role of the police. Was their response heavy-handed? Why was it unsuccessful?

It placed a focus on the Home Office with many appalled at the sight of vans turning up at closes to take people away.

Yet it was barely mentioned on that evening’s bulletins. Channel 4, for whom the story seemed knitted, did not mention it in its 7pm bulletin, or, if it did, must have put it in the section entitled Shug’s Comfort Break.

So what does it ultimately matter if broadcasters speak to the majority and ignore what is going one elsewhere? What is the problem of sticking to the old references and pleasing the majority of punters?

The answer is not much when it is about 1966 and Gazza. It is more concerning when it is emblematic of a laziness and of an ignorance of the wideness of the audience.

Those who are excluded feel patronised and resentful, with obvious consequences. But those included are denied a wider view. This is always taken to be a criticism of foreign coverage. It is not, at least in this case.

There are matters of import happening closer to home that have escaped scrutiny because of a blinkered attitude to matters outside London. Northern Ireland anyone?

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