Where will England finish in the World Cup?
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Gareth Southgate's promising young England side look ready to make a mark on the world stage and help atone for the disappointments of recent tournaments.
After bowing out at group stage of the last World Cup, England somehow managed to stoop even lower by losing to Iceland to exit Euro 2016.
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While there have been many contributing factors to England’s dismal performances in major competitions over the last two decades, from Urs Meier to Cristiano Ronaldo’s wink, just how much has the Three Lions’ fate been affected by which TV channel their game was broadcast on?
Going back as far as Euro 96, the data suggests England perform better on the BBC, having a win ratio of 58pc from the 19 games that have been exclusively shown on the channel, compared to a 21pc win rate of games shown on ITV.
The BBC’s dominant record comes from screening the majority of England’s group stage wins over the last 20 years.
Of 12 group games going back to Euro 96, the Three Lions have won nine when exclusively on the BBC, with defeats to Romania at Euro 2000 and Italy at the 2014 World Cup and a draw with Nigeria at the 2002 World Cup blotting their copybook.
During that time they screened the win over Scotland at Euro 96, the 1-0 success against Argentina in 2002, the 3-2 victory against Sweden in Euro 2012 and the 2-1 win over Wales in Euro 2016.
Four of England’s six group game defeats have come when on ITV, losing to Romania during France 98, Portugal at Euro 2000, France at Euro 2004 and Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup.
ITV’s record has also been hampered by a string of draws, including the two drab affairs with the United States and Algeria at the 2010 World Cup, the 2002 and 2006 World Cup stalemates with Sweden, the Euro 2012 opener with France and the forgettable draws with Russia and Slovakia at Euro 2016.
The BBC has been the dominant broadcaster in terms of showing knockout games as it has screened seven exclusively compared to just two on ITV alone.
That dominance obviously gives a far larger pool for a trend to emerge, especially given the nature of England’s performance in major tournaments.
There have been two wins and five defeats in those BBC games.
The victories came against Spain in Euro 96 and Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup, with defeats against Germany (Euro 96 and 2010 World Cup), Portugal (Euro 2004 and 2006 World Cup) and Italy (Euro 2012).
ITV screened the last-16 tie in France 98 where Glenn Hoddle’s side were beaten by Argentina and were the broadcaster for the debacle against Iceland in Nice two years ago.
The two channels shared coverage of England’s knockout games during the 2002 World Cup, where they beat Denmark in the last 16 before losing to Brazil in the quarter-finals.
So, what does that mean for Russia 2018?
Well, it bodes well as England’s first two group games against Tunisia and Panama are on the BBC - matches that should end in victories for Gareth Southgate’s men.
The final group game against Belgium, which is likely to decide who tops the table, is on ITV, meaning we can probably expect a draw if history is anything to go by.
ITV will also broadcast England’s last-16 tie should they make it through the group, a slight concern given their 0-2 record of knockout games in the last 22 years.
The BBC get the pick of the quarter-finals, but after England’s showing in France two years ago it might be hasty to look that far in front.