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England will lose their match tonight and it’s ITV’s fault.

England face Columbia in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16 later today and our stats say that they’ll lose.

Momentum, consistency and maintaining a winning mentality were reasons bandied around the sporting press as England went in to their last group game in the World Cup a couple of days ago. Winning the group meant the harder side of the draw though, so coming second meant that the glory that the nation has craved since 1966 would be assured.

No-one reckoned on the cruel twist of sporting fate that this draw has handed our gallant footballing lions though.  England don’t win when their games are shown on ITV.

To many of you, this may seem ridiculous and when I first heard this suggestion I thought so too.  Surely it doesn’t matter whether it’s Clive Tyldesley or Guy Mowbray talking us through the game, England will play how they play.  So, the challenge was – go out and prove it.

Historic performances

We love a good trawl through data so the idea of getting a few charts and a pivot table or two on the go seemed like a great idea.

We looked at England’s tournament results since 1996 (including the Euro ’96 tournament itself) and we saw the same things that everyone talks about first of all.  A meagre 2 knockout match wins in 22 years.  Lost leads, bad performances in penalty shootouts and the rest.  But we then threw in the broadcaster of each of those matches and things started to look very worrying.

Including Euro ’96 and up tothe England/Belgium game in this tounament, England have played 39 tournamen games.  The BBC and ITV have both broadcast 19 matches and the simul-broadcast the Euro ’96 Semi Final.  England have won 17, lost 14 and drawn 8 of those games.

What the chart shows is that on the BBC, England’s win percentage is 68%, while it’s just 21% when ITV show the game.  It also shows that ITV’s draw percentage is 42% and England’s losses hit 36% (compared with 31% on the Beeb).

England’s performances and results when ITV show their matches

On ITV, England are more likely to draw than they are to win – but with tonight’s game being a knockout match, a draw’s not possible.  We’re clearly looking at extra time or penalties to sort this game out.

Knockout Performances

In the period that we looked at, England have appeared in 9 knockout matches in major tournaments and have won 2.  Both wins have been screened on the BBC.

As both broadcasters transmitted the Euro ’96 semi-final against Germany (spoiler alert, we lost that) then we will remove that match as an outlier meaning we’re down to 6 games.   The BBC have shown 4 and ITV 2.  2 of the matches, one per broadcaster have finished within the 90 minutes, with the other 4 going to penalties.  ITV have shown 1 penalty shootout and that was a 4/3 defeat to Portugal at France ’98.

The odds are starting to stack up.

Any more bad news?

We started to scratch around for something good in all of this.  Mark Pougatch seems like such a nice chap.  You know, the sort who calls him Mum, buys his wife flowers and is always there running a PTA stall on Sport’s Day.  We can’t have him lose his UK citizenship over this.

So, we thought hang on…  England are the ‘home’ side in this fixture.  While we’re investigating dumb luck let’s see if that makes a difference.

Nope.  When England have been the ‘home’ side, by which we mean the side whose name appears first in the “Team 1 vs Team 2” layout, they’ve appeared 11 times on the BBC and 9 on ITV.  Their win percentage on ITV is 33% compared to 63% when Auntie has the cameras.

Silver linings

England currently win around 1 in 5 of their knockout matches and have lost their last 4, so they are due a result tonight when you think of it in those terms – also, there’s lots of good omens to play for.

A win tonight puts them firmly back on a BBC aired path to the final and that looks a lot more likely, I think we can all agree.

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