An informal look at the history of Coventry City on live television
There was indeed a time before Sky and, although the role of the company in many of the changes to the English game has been the subject of much debate over the years, their dramatic arrival on the scene in 1992 did promise benefits to the smaller Premier League clubs, beyond the lure of the new television deal.
ITV’s Sunday afternoon offerings had invariably been slanted towards the ‘Big Five’ of Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, allowances only being made when other clubs were genuinely in with a chance of winning the league.
After their first ever live outing, at Arsenal in January 1987 when a stubborn City rearguard frustrated the then leaders in a goalless, the Sky Blues were shown against Aston Villa at Highfield Road in February 1990 shortly after both legs of the League Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Visitors Villa were pushing for the title but were left empty-handed as Kevin Drinkell scored within a minute of coming off the substitute’s bench.
Then there was nothing until April 1992 as Leeds maintained their challenge against a relegation-threatened City, Gary McAllister sealing a 2-0 victory from the spot.
The 1987 FA Cup Final was, of course, shown live, but, from personal memory even the semi-final against Leeds was shown in full only after the final whistle had blown.
A return to Wembley in the Charity Shield was also covered live
One of the innovations of the Sky deal was that they promised a greater spread of coverage to all of the clubs in the new FA Premier League and their advertising blitz before the season began featured players from all 22 clubs in a variety of dressing room situations.
The Sky Blues squeaked into the new era, thanks to a part-time student named Rob Matthews who gave Notts County victory against Luton on the final day of the 1991/92 season while City were being tamely beaten at Villa Park.
They could well have been regulars on the ‘Central Match’ had they gone down but it was to be a Monday night when the Sky Blues were next shown live on the box.