Football Focus: Alex Scott and Fara Williams laugh off concerns about the show’s viewing figures as they joke singing Martin Odegaard’s new song would ‘put the ratings up’

Alex Scott and Fara Williams laughed off concerns about Football Focus’ viewing figures during Saturday’s BBC show at lunchtime.

As revealed by Mail Sport this week, the 49-year-old programme has lost more than one third of its early-season viewers in the space of four years. 

While Football Focus isn’t thought to be under immediate threat of disappearing from Saturday schedules, reversing that decline will be a priority for the corporation’s new director of sport once Barbara Slater retires next spring.

Scott took to Twitter to hit out at former presenter Dan Walker as he offered his support for the show shortly before going live on Saturday.

Scott hosted the BBC show with guests Stephen Warnock and Williams as they previewed the weekend’s action, with Gary Lineker interviewing Ange Postecoglou while Scott sat down with Odegaard.

Fara Williams (left back) joked that Alex Scott singing Martin Odegaard’s chant would improve Football Focus’ viewership

The suggestion left Scott in stitches before she swiftly moved the conversation on

The suggestion left Scott in stitches before she swiftly moved the conversation on 

Williams later joked about Scott's EAFC24 card and suggested that showing it could also help improve viewing figures

Williams later joked about Scott’s EAFC24 card and suggested that showing it could also help improve viewing figures

It was after her interview with Odegaard that the situation surrounding the viewing figures came up, with Scott discussing his new chant at Arsenal.

‘I love Martin Odegaard’s new song,’ she said. ‘I’m not joining in, I’m not going to sing it!’

This prompted Williams to joke: ‘I reckon if you sing it our views for this show might go up!’

The pair then continued to joke that the views would have increased simply by having Williams, England’s all-time appearance maker, on the show.

The joke left the trio laughing before Scott swiftly moved on and directed the conversation towards Arsenal’s Odegaard and his impressive performances since joining Mikel Arteta’s side.

However, this was not the last joke regarding the viewing figures at Football Focus as Williams couldn’t help herself towards the end of the show.

Posing with Scott’s EAFC24 hero card, Williams once again suggested a way to increase viewership.

Teasing Scott, she joked: ‘I’m just going cuddle it for the rest of the show’, while lifting the card up to be positioned next to her on the seat.

‘That’s fine, it can sit with me on the couch! I feel like I’m at home anyway.

‘Might get some views up!’

Former Football Focus presenter Dan Walker has expressed his sadness at the iconic BBC show's slump in viewing figures over recent years

Former Football Focus presenter Dan Walker has expressed his sadness at the iconic BBC show’s slump in viewing figures over recent years 

Walker said on X that he feels 'sad' about the show's decline and hopes it remains on the air

Walker said on X that he feels ‘sad’ about the show’s decline and hopes it remains on the air

It came after Scott hit back at her predecessor Walker, who said that it’s ‘hard’ to see the iconic BBC show struggling amid a dramatic slump in audience figures that could see it axed.

Walker presented the BBC One show for 11 years between 2009 and 2021, before Alex Scott took over from him.

As revealed by Mail Sport this week, the 49-year-old programme has lost more than one third of its early-season viewers in the space of four years.

Taking to X, Walker wrote: ‘It’s hard to see Football Focus struggling. I loved it growing up and it was an honour to present it and I still miss it. We poured everything into that show every week and worked hard to keep it relevant. I hope it stays part of the TV landscape.’

And this led to Scott to respond in GIF format, simply saying: ‘Interesting.’

Walker was classy in his reply to Scott as he wished her well for the show on Saturday.

Scott responded to Walker's initial tweet, replying with a GIF that said 'interesting'

Scott responded to Walker’s initial tweet, replying with a GIF that said ‘interesting’

The show has continued to decline since Alex Scott took over from Walker in 2021

The show has continued to decline since Alex Scott took over from Walker in 2021 

The former Gunner then continued to put out her own tweet about the criticism

The former Gunner then continued to put out her own tweet about the criticism

‘I’m not saying you haven’t Alex,’ he wrote. ‘It’s a saturated market and it’s hard work every week. I hope you have a good show today.’

However, Scott didn’t stop there as she put out another message to the critics of the show, posting the show’s Sports Journalist Association award from 2022.

She wrote: ‘We have big interviews with Ange Postecoglou and Arsenal captain Martin Odegarard coming up on the ‘Award’ winning Football Focus tomorrow. 

‘Make that a headline.’ 

While Football Focus isn’t thought to be under immediate threat of disappearing from Saturday schedules, reversing that decline will be a priority for the corporation’s new director of sport once Barbara Slater retires next spring.

Walker, who followed in the footsteps of presenters Sam Leitch, Bob Wilson, Steve Rider, Gary Lineker, Ray Stubbs and Manish Bhasin in 2009, expressed his regret over the sad situation.

The weekly average viewing figures for August fell from 849,000 in 2019 to just 564,000 last month.

Des Lynam (left) listens in while Bob Wilson and Jimmy Hill lead Football Focus back in 1979

Des Lynam (left) listens in while Bob Wilson and Jimmy Hill lead Football Focus back in 1979

The most dramatic fall coincides with Scott replacing Walker as the main presenter in 2021.

In Walker’s last season before he was moved on the average weekly August audience was 827,000, before dropping to 809,000 in 2021, 599,000 12 months later and 564,000 this year.

Scott is not being blamed by her bosses, though, and remains highly regarded at the BBC, who are set to give the former England defender a prominent presenting role at next summer’s Olympics.

Mark Lawrenson, who appeared on the programme for 25 years before being let go last year, told Mail Sport that he believes the show has ‘served it’s time’.

He said: ‘It has served its time. It’s a football magazine show, but there are so many other options for viewers these days and so much competition. 

‘It doesn’t surprise me. Football Focus is coming up to 50 years, which is an unbelievable run, although there was no competition 50 years ago.’

BBC sources insisted the decline in viewing figures mirrored those experienced by all linear channels in recent years.

A spokesperson told Mail Sport: ‘Football Focus continues to herald the start of a whole weekend of sporting coverage across BBC Sport. Week-on-week it is the most watched programme during that time slot and iPlayer viewing figures are also strong, so we know its popularity is enduring for fans.’

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Source From: Football | Mail Online

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