#HerGameToo - Alex Scott MBE, punditry and women in football


Alex Scott MBE is to become the host of the BBC's Football Focus show, replacing Dan Walker. The announcement means that she will be the show's first permanent female host in its 47-year history. Both the recipient of the role and the significance of the news has meant it’s been received warmly by a large number of football fans across the country. 

Alex Scott is going to be the first ever female presenter of Football Focus, she's an excellent pundit, has graced the ladies game and has a degree in sports journalism, she's an inspiration and I'm sure will do a great job.

Plymouth fan, 'Loz Argyle'

Football punditry in the UK has become an increasingly important part of broadcasting with the role providing relative stability for players once they’ve hung up their boots. Though this sense of purpose is to be welcomed and supported, fans have increasingly questioned whether the profession's expanding circuit of talking heads are still bringing the same value to matchday broadcasts as was previously the case. Going further, some have even begun to question whether the oversaturation and amount of time given toward covering the gig has begun to take away from the quality of broadcasting on the nation's TV screens.

Describing the observations as nuanced would imply the issue is not an overt one, but many have pointed out the role in which pundits and commentators have played in feeding into harmful narratives surrounding foreign nationals and in particular black players - in short a change has been needed.

Scott, pictured next to Dion Dublin and Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs, has been one of football's outstanding pundits since her retirement in 2017.

It isn't a total overhaul, but it is an improvement. This is not to say that Dan Walker was a bad host; on the contrary, Scott thanked Walker for actively encouraging her desire to take on the role. He's a well-liked presenter who, aside from sports, has established himself as a reliable anchor for the BBC's prime-time coverage, but the analytical edge Alex Scott frequently provides could help revitalise the role.

“I would like to take a moment to thank Dan Walker, for being an amazing host all these years and for being the amazing human that you are. Knowing that many years ago I told you I wanted to be in a position such as this and you’ve taken the time to help me develop, hone my skills and get to this position.”

Naturally, Football Focus, like many other football shows, is not centred on the host's contributions. Nonetheless, as is frequently the case on the field, the best are able to strike a balance between directing the flow of events and intervening with decisive contributions of their own.

She will still be flanked by the same selection of Saturday morning regulars that football fans are accustomed to, but there is hope that with her dictating from the front we may be in line to see a wider change across the industry. One focused on hiring hosts willing to steer the flow of coverage beyond the usual cliches. It's something that every football fan would undoubtedly benefit from.

Who knows, perhaps this begins a trend that sees more women at the forefront of covering the biggest occasions. Frankly, there’s no real reason to object to this being the case. Though she never graced the field, NBC's Rebecca Lowe is widely regarded as one of the foremost hosts of Premier League coverage anywhere in the world. Kate Abdo is quite possibly the best host in sports, let alone football coverage anywhere in Europe. 

The inescapable reality is that some fans will wince at the suggestion of increased female presence during matchday coverage - this cannot be denied. However, if we’re to improve the quality of football's viewing experience, and if we’re really serious about reminding young girls that across all levels this sport is just as much theirs as it is ours, it’s certainly not the worst idea. 

Many, such as GoalDiggersUK, have successfully created their own platforms so that their voices can be truly heard. Would it really be such a huge risk for Sky, BT or Talksport to reach out and collaborate with a dynamic group such as this? Create roles so that they and other burgeoning female content creators can share their knowledge of the game to a wider audience? I don’t think so.

This weekend, we were reminded once again, that there is still a lot more to be done so women feel it truly is ‘TheirGameToo.' Greater integration into mainstream platforms and visible reminders of their presence during weekly coverage must surely form part of the long-term solution.


Mayowa Ayodele


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