It could be time to start taking up an interest in watching other sports. Badminton, sailing or equestrianism, anyone? Better still how about some new hobbies? Stamp collecting, DIY or hill-walking, perhaps? The news this week that CABLE Sports may not be able to show the English Premier League (EPL) from next season is a body blow to all us couch potatoes who get our vicarious kicks from watching live transmissions of English football. It could be time to face up to being a bunch of sad cases. And, although the loss of live Premiership fare would be a body blow, we can't really pretend it's a shock. It's the way things have been going over the past 12 months as CABLE have been denuded of their prize assets. First the Champions' league when they lost ESPN. Then the FA Cup this season when they were outbid for the rights. The Premier League was the bedrock of CABLE's subscriber base so we can expect them to mean it when they say they will do their utmost to keep the EPL after the current contract expires. It could be a matter of business survival for the company. Their shares took a big hit when news broke in the Chinese media of the possibility that the EPL could be lost. But even with the best intentions they may not be able to keep the English game on our screens. After all, their record of holding on to top events has not been good lately. At least this time the news is out well in advance unlike the previous instances when fans had only a matter of weeks' warning. Perhaps the time factor will allow CABLE to come up with a new deal. One of the options being mooted in the event that CABLE fail to renew their present exclusive EPL deal is that they will get back together with ESPN. ESPN are exclusive rights holders to the EPL in many other Asian countries. But that would not be an ideal solution because ESPN do not carry anywhere near as many games in Asia as CABLE TV carry in the SAR at present. We think nothing of seeing four or five live EPL games a week here. ESPN would see three games as a very good week, with one or two games being more the norm. So is it all bleak and forbidding? Well, there may be a silver lining. One way of accentuating the positive is to think how it might give us all a sense of perspective. We may face up to the question 'Just how good is the Premiership really?' and find the answer a shocking but pleasant surprise. For example, in recent weeks the quality of televised Italian games has vastly surpassed that of the Premiership ones for skill and drama. The Serie A title race is far more wide open. This past Wednesday we saw the first and third placed English clubs serve up a typical blood and thunder spectacle with manchester United and Sunderland going hammer and tongs in a spectacle more akin to a barroom brawl than a classy entertainment. If one and three from Italy met now it would be AS Roma v Lazio and while certainly not lacking in passion, such a matchup would be much more likely to contain memorable moments of flair and imaginative play. But do we, the viewers really want to know this? Is not the quality of sporting content not immaterial to the real reason we crave Premiership action? The consensus, backed up by viewing numbers is that the Premier League is more popular here in Hong Kong and in most parts of Asia than its Italian equivalent. Clearly that is not based on the quality of the play. In the SAR there is obviously the colonial connection to explain an audience predisposition towards the English game. Also the marketing operation and television production values are superior to Italy's (but not by much). So what we are left with is the stark but rarely acknowledged truth that this is hardly about a love of football at all but more about nationalism. People who prefer the English game have links to England. It's fair enough. Maybe there are more English expats than Italian ones in Asia. That's certainly true of HK and the British link to other soccer hotbeds such as Malaysia and Thailand is historically far stronger than Italy's. So really we are talking about nostalgia for the homeland, patriotism, a kind of social service for expats. It's not about sport. This week's top live offerings from England see Coventry at home to Arsenal, and Newcastle at home to Southampton. The obligatory Man Utd match against Everton will be shown taped only and the delayed game tomorrow night is Middlesbrough v Manchester City. The Italian selection is hardly much better with Perugia v Verona, and Parma v Roma hardly setting the pulse racing. But Atalanta v Juventus is a very promising one. It's a clash between two of the top four teams as second-placed Juventus of Turin travel to Bergamo to play fourth-placed Atalanta. Juve, on 33 points from 16 matches are hot on the heels of leaders Roma, who have 36. And Atalanta, on 27 points will be desperate to not allow Juve to pull 10 points ahead of them with a win. Juventus were in excellent form last week as they demolished Vicenza 4-0, with Filippo Inzaghi bagging a hat-trick. That win kept the pressure up on leaders AS Roma who maintained their four-point lead in the table with a 3-0 win over Napoli. Juve possess some of the world's greatest players, led by mercurial French midfielder Zinedine Zidane. His midfield Partner Edgar Davids from Holland, is one of the most competitive at his position. Up front alongside Inzaghi, the Old Lady of Turin can play David Trezeguet, Alessandro del Piero or Darko Kovacevic. With no other distractions at home or in Europe Carlo Ancelotti's side are focusing their entire season on the bid to catch Roma in the league. But this is a tricky away trip to face an Atalanta side who last week moved up into fourth place by virtue of a 4-2 away win against Udinese. Atalanta, a perennial yo-yo team, were promoted again last summer, but seem to have more staying power this time round. They led the table in the early weeks and are still in among the Champions' League placings.