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A golden age for footballing audio

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-04-2017 Sidin Vadukut

Video has become the heart and soul of modern football. Video production, broadcasting and sharing govern almost every aspect of the game as it is played today. From the way stadia and team clothing are designed, to the time matches are broadcast, to the way teams go boom and bust financially, these are all outcomes of the intensely visual presentation of the game.

Leagues and tournaments all over the world shift matches around to cater to a booming market of new consumers and advertisers in Asia. Meanwhile, there is so much money pouring out of TV channels that teams, especially in England, are awash with funds that only some use well. Even a team that is relegated from the Premier League this season will take home more money than the actual winners of any top league almost anywhere else in the world. As consumers all over the world overdose on football on their TVs, phones and tablets, they are fundamentally changing the way teams are run.

No less intense is the visual nature of football consumption on social media, albeit with a few twists. For an international audience often starved of affordable real-time football, social media is eager to oblige with video clips, GIFs and highlight reels. Arsenalist.com, for instance, is a source of constant recourse for Arsenal fans with its blistering-fast GIF clip updates during matches.

Yet, and remarkably so, it is also a golden age for footballing audio. Sure, these podcasts may not boast of the swish graphics, clips and screen-overlay analysis that is the staple of TV shows. But what these podcasts lack in visual content they more than make up for in excellent analysis, sharp banter, unique insight and virtually zero cost.

These are some of my favourite footballing podcasts—well worth gobbling up the memory on your phone for.

The Spanish Football Podcast

Between them the hosts have forgotten more about Spanish football than many of us will ever see in our lives. Phil Kitromilides is a broadcaster who works for Real Madrid TV, while Sid Lowe is among the most respected journalists in Spanish or, indeed, any football. The hosts come together to present a show that is intelligent, entertaining and accessible to football fans of every level. Fluent Spanish speakers both, with a genuine love for their adopted home, Kitromilides and Lowe somehow find the time to squeeze in everything from bad Spanish jokes to tourist tips into their weekly—more for paying patrons—episodes. For a small additional fee, patrons can access extra episodes and exclusive video content. Highly recommended. One wishes there were similar English productions for all the major leagues.

Men in Blazers

Recorded in New York but hosted by British journalists Roger Bennett and Michael Davis, Men In Blazers is a thoughtful, brainy, mature look at the world of football. Every week, the duo brings in some of the biggest names in world football for entertaining and satisfying chatter on the latest developments in European and world football. It offers a lot of insight into the American game as well.

The Football Ramble (TFR)

TFR is not just the most popular independent podcast in football, but also one of the largest podcasts in the world. Period. Hosted by four raucous, irreverent hosts—Marcus Speller, Luke Moore, Pete Donaldson and Jim Campbell, the show focuses primarily on the top tiers of English football, but does not shy away from launching into any aspect of football anywhere in the world with vim and vigour. The foursome now have a book, The Football Ramble—By Four Men Who Love The Game They Hate (2016), and often host live events. But their podcast always delivers, week after week.

Your Club’s Favourite Podcast

An astonishing number of teams in England, and elsewhere, have fans who produce dedicated, frequently updated podcasts. From Bromley FC to Andrew Mangan’s always hilarious, often heart-breaking Arsecast on Arsenal. If you support a team, then it make sense to google up your club’s dedicated podcast(s).

Football Weekly

Produced by The Guardian and hosted by the irresistible James Richardson, Football Weekly is the gold standard in football podcasting. Twice a week Richardson and a star-studded cast of footballing writers and journalists get together for an uncommon mix of comedy and commentary. Things perk up in particular when there is disagreement, debate or Barry Glendenning. The Sunderland-supporting pint-friendly Irishman can be depended upon to drop some titillating truthbombs. It is all great fun, pure football, and more addictive than a syringe of pure Toblerone. Be warned: You are going to spend hours each week waiting for the latest instalment to rip your team apart.

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