ITV Takes Flak for Ad Gaffe

Alan McGuinnessSenior Analyst IFebruary 5, 2009

As the tense encounter between Everton and Liverpool edged ever closer to a penalty shootout, some viewers of the game were given a very unwelcome surprise.

As Joleon Lescott carried the ball over the halfway line in search of a goal that surely would have won the game, ITV cut to a scheduled advert break. This was because the game overran and ITV’s ad schedule doesn’t take such occurrences into account.

Such a furore might not have been provoked had the passage of play that viewers missed been anything like the preceding 118 minutes.

But what some viewers missed was the game's pivotal moment. They were treated to commercials advertising Tic-Tacs while Dan Gosling controlled Andy van Der Meyde’s cross and curled a finish past Pepe Reina to send Everton through.

When the pictures of the game did return, they found Everton’s players wildly celebrating Gosling’s goal.

The Football Association has demanded an explanation from ITV.

“It is obviously very disappointing that viewers and fans did not see the only goal of last night’s FA Cup replay between Everton and Liverpool. Clearly we are seeking a full explanation from ITV as to why this happened,” said a statement on the FA’s website.

“It is important that lessons are learned and that this does not happen again.”

Steve Rider, who was hosting ITV’s coverage of the clash, apologised on air for the interruption.

Sir Michael Grade, head of ITV, has also given his two cents on the error. He said: "As a football fan myself, I was glued to the match and was as disappointed as anyone to miss the goal.

"We have years of experience in dealing with the changes in ad break patterns when games go into extra time and sometimes penalties.

"We are awaiting the results of our technical inquiry so we can put in place stringent and immediate procedures to address this," he added.