England's ITV curse is REAL: How the Three Lions play worse on the channel

England's ITV curse is REAL: Harry Kane of England reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The England ITV curse is part of the discussion around any international tournament these days, on a list with goalkeepers complaining about the new ball and newspapers ramping up the clamour for one of the bench to be given a start based on club form.

It's nonsense, though, surely? There's no way that England can perform badly just because the game is being shown on a network with adverts. After all, the 3-0 win against Senegal in the last-16 of the World Cup this year proves that the Three Lions can perform when Mark Pougatch and co. are watching on.

Well… actually, it's conclusive. England are bad on ITV: and don't get us started on Channel 4, who hosted a Nations League campaign this year in which England failed to win a single match. 

England's ITV curse: the numbers

Gary Lineker attends the Sun's Who Cares Wins Awards 2021 at The Roundhouse on September 14, 2021 in London, England.

Gary Lineker doesn't oversee too many defeats as BBC Sport's lead presenter (Image credit: Tim P. Whitby/WireImage via Getty Images)

In 1990, the World Cup aired on both channels. Since 1998, England games have been split across the two, with 16 on the BBC, 17 on ITV. 

England have a 75% win ratio during the World Cup on the Beeb, compared to a pitiful 18% when it's not on that side. BBC's record stands at 12 wins, a draw and three losses, while ITV have only seen three wins, six draws and eight losses.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
England on the BBC
YearOpponentScore, result
1998Tunisia2-0, WON
1998Colombia2-0, WON
2002Argentina1-0, WON
2002Nigeria1-1, DRAWN
2002Denmark3-0, WON
2002Brazil2-1, LOST
2006Paraguay1-0, WON
2006Ecuador1-0, WON
2010Slovenia1-0, WON
2010Germany4-1, LOST
2014Italy2-1, LOST
2018Tunisia2-1, WON
2018Panama6-1, WON
2018Sweden2-0, WON
2022Iran6-2, WON
2022Wales3-0, WON

The BBC only have two knockout losses – to Brazil in 2002 and Germany in 2010. The one draw that the channel has overseen in the past 24 years was a hard-fought goalless game against Nigeria to qualify for the second round of the competition in Japan and South Korea.

Plenty of England's more famous wins have come on Channel 1, meanwhile. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that Women's Euro 2022 was broadcast on the BBC.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
England on ITV
YearOpponentScore, result
1998Romania2-1, LOST
1998Argentina2-2 p, LOST
2002Sweden1-1, DRAWN
2006Sweden2-2, DRAWN
2006Trinidad & Tobago2-0, WON
2006Portugal0-0 p, LOST
2010United States1-1, DRAWN
2010Algeria0-0, DRAWN
2014Uruguay2-1, LOST
2014Costa Rica0-0, DRAWN
2018Belgium1-0, LOST
2018Colombia1-1 p, WON
2018Croatia2-1, LOST
2018Belgium2-0, LOST
2022United States0-0, DRAWN
2022Senegal3-0, WON
2022France2-1, LOST

It doesn't make for good reading on ITV. They've had every World Cup penalty shootout – and England have only won one of them.

Two of the channel's only three wins have come in the past two tournaments with the other against minnows Trinidad & Tobago. It's certainly puzzling – perhaps they can agree to swap broadcast rights if it's a big game?

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.