David Owen: Not being there – how television became football’s chief paymaster

Nothing in recent years has changed football as much as television.

The box in the living-room corner has spawned Manchester United fans from Tacoma to Tahiti and made top players as wealthy as successful bond traders.

Few of us now, not even the most avid groundhoppers, consume as many matches live as on TV.

Even professional football reporters, who think nothing of covering 100 games a season, will turn instantly to the screens scattered around the press stands to assess whether a foul has been committed or the ball has crossed the line.

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