Simon Hill did not hold back in his interview on the Shim, Spider and so much Moore podcast according to the following article published on Sporting News. Its a very interesting take from a former insider at Fox Sports and provides an insight into the ruthless behaviour of the broadcaster. See below for the straight talking by Simon Hill:
Renowned football commentator Simon Hill has revealed he was “removed” from his position at Fox Sports and called on the sport to carefully explore broadcasting options moving forward.
Hill’s exit was reportedly a financial one, but he has now broken his silence on the situation and claims he was progressively silenced by the broadcaster before being ultimately “removed”.
Still strongly involved in Australian football matters, Hill has hit out at how NewsCorp has covered the sport in recent years and believes the game should try to find a new home with the A-League’s current broadcast deal set to expire in five months.
“Fox of course has been the league’s major investor down the years, without them the A-League and W-League would not exist. They have plowed in millions of dollars of which the game should be thankful and the rumour is they are starting to flutter their eyelids as an expression of interest in renewing,” Hill said on the Shim, Spider and so much Moore podcast.
“Now the clubs of course are duty bound to look at that. They need money, exposure, and Fox has provided both to an extent down the years. However, to commit to an exclusive deal with the pay-tv network would be, in my opinion, a big mistake.
“NewsCorp has made it quite clear over the past 18 months where football sits in their pecking order. Football journalists have been cleared out, coverage has been reduced and least we forget they used a global pandemic to bully the sport into submission, to renegotiate a deal they had signed of their own free will.
“Yes, other sports had the same issues but none were brought to the brink like football where only some smart maneuvering by James Johnson wrong footed the broadcaster and saved the game from oblivion. Make no mistake, they wanted out.
“And while the game is largely to blame for its own misfortunes – a three-year governance war and a spectacular own goal regarding active support tends to do that – football must not forget the way it was treated by its own broadcaster. With no competition in the market, Fox has been free to do as it pleases with the A-League and it’s taken full advantage.
“For 18 months its attack dogs in the newspapers, who wouldn’t know Neymar if they saw him in a magazine, ran a relentless propaganda campaign to depict the competition as substandard and not worth watching. Other sports were advertised during A-League games to encourage the audience to switch over.
“They silenced anyone who tried to cover the competition properly. I know, I was one of them. I was told my opinions weren’t wanted, barred from writing for the website, refused permission to respond to ill-informed public criticism about me and the game from people within my own organisation and eventually I was removed.
“Football, you see, needed to know its place. A conscious devaluation of an asset – it was Channel Seven in the 90s and the NSL all over again.
“Now football wasn’t as strong seven months ago but it’s in a better position now hence why the coverage is suddenly more benign. NewsCorp are nervous, rugby gave them a bloody nose, the landscape is changing, there are options, they are haemorrhaging money and they need content. It may be the A-League chooses to partner with Fox again due to the need for cash, fair enough, but it must not be on an exclusive basis.
“The game cannot afford to be dictated to by one over-bearing partner in such a brutal fashion going forward. If it can find the investment, an OTT platform would be ideal, especially with a mooted second division on the cards to provide that extra content. Some exposure on free-to-air would be great as well and with the FIFA Women’s World Cup here in three years time the sport has a real bargaining tool at last. There is talk of Stan, DAZN, Discovery, Amazon, Netfiix…but it remains for now, just speculation.
“Football should be grateful to Fox, it did a fantastic job for many years but nothing is forever and frankly the game deserves a brighter future than the one on offer at its current home, where under the present regime it will only ever be seen as a second-tier sport. Football in my opinion must show its maturity by refusing to accept that.”