NEW SEASON PREVIEW: BIGGEST SHAKE-UP OF FOOTIE ON TV IN YEARS
The new season is kicking off with some of the biggest changes for decades in coverage of footie on TV.
In one of the busiest summers in football television history a number of shows have been axed, presenters, pundits and commentators changed and new signings made.
FOOTIE ON TV is here to guide you through the changes.
NEW-LOOK SOCCER SATURDAY
Saturday afternoons get a massive overhaul following Jeff Stelling’s departure from Sky Sports.
Taking on what some might see as a poisoned chalice given Stelling’s incredible popularity is Simon Thomas.
The former Blue Peter presenter was one of Sky’s Premier League anchors before stepping away from the job in 2018, following the death of his wife, so he could spend more time with his son.
Sky said they’d always leave the door open for a possible return and Thomas has hosted on Sky Sports News and filled in for Stelling over the past year. He’s also presented some of Amazon’s live Premier League games.
Former Premier League referee Mike Dean will also join the panel with familiar faces Paul Merson, Clinton Morrison, Sue Smith, Kris Boyd and Tim Sherwood all returning. Julian Warren, who took on Stelling’s role for midweek matches, will continue to do so for the Tuesday and Wednesday Soccer Specials.
Thomas has always appeared popular with Sky’s audience so is likely to be well received despite having to follow in the footsteps of such a legendary broadcasting figure as Stelling.
AND IT’S LIVE! PETER DRURY REPLACES MARTIN TYLER AS SKY’S TOP COMMENTATOR
A massive change for Sky is in the commentary box with Peter Drury calling the broadcaster’s biggest matches.
He replaces Martin Tyler who some consider to be the greatest UK football commentator of all time, although there has been a feeling he’d lost some of his sparkle in more recent years.
Drury is famed for his poetic descriptions of big moments having more than 30 years of experience across various broadcasters.
He’s likely to commentate on Sky’s big 4.30pm Super Sunday match and will continue to call games for America’s NBC Premier League matches. NBC is part of Comcast which also owns Sky.
Rob Hawthorne, Bill Leslie, See Hutchinson, Dan Mann, Gary Weaver and Ian Crocker will commentate across Sky’s portfolio of Premier League, EFL and Scottish Premiership rights.
David Jones and Kelly Cates will again lead Sky’s coverage with Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Micah Richards and Roy Keane. Greame Souness departed at the end of last season.
LAURA WOODS HEADS TNT SPORTS’ CHALLENGE TO SKY
In a summer of big moves in football broadcasting, Laura Woods is a huge signing for TNT Sports which is taking over from BT Sport.
The award-winning journalist will front TNT’s Champions League coverage taking over from Jake Humphrey.
Woods will be the main Champions League anchor with Reshmin Chowdhury fronting other games from the competition.
Lynsey Hipgrave will again be the main Premier League presenter for TNT’s matches which will mainly air at 12.30pm on Saturdays. Woods may present the occasional Premier League game and will also host some of TNT’s boxing coverage.
Ally McCoist, who built up a great rapport with Woods on TalkSport, will also feature on TNT’s football coverage.
Rio Ferdinand, Peter Crouch, Joe Cole, Rachel Brown-Finnish, Owen Hargreaves, Steve McManaman, Joleon Lescott, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes and Robbie Savage make up the rest of of the TNT team with Darren Fletcher and Adam Summerton on commentary
CHRIS SUTTON SIGNS FOR SKY
Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton is also making a summer switch – leaving the rebranded TNT Sports for Sky’s Scottish coverage.
Sutton will be lead pundit alongside Kris Boyd for Sky’s Scottish Premiership games with Eilidh Barbour again fronting coverage and Ian Crocker on commentary duties.
Sutton’s been brought in at Sky for the Scottish coverage although it’s not clear yet whether he could feature on other elements of Sky’s football coverage as well. He will continue his radio and newspapers roles alongside the Sky work.
ALL CHANGE ON THE TOUCHLINE
On TNT Sports Jules Breach has replaced veteran touchline reporter Des Kelly for Premier League games.
Breach, who hosts Channel 4’s England coverage, will also present Europa League matches for TNT and a preview show on Premier League match days.
Over on Sky, long-serving reporter Geoff Shreeves has also departed.
REVAMP FOR ITV’S EFL HIGHLIGHTS SHOW
ITV’s EFL highlights show – which debuted last season after taking over the rights from Quest – is already being overhauled.
It’s being cut from two hours to 95 minutes and will now be presented on location from a different ground each week.
Pundits have been dropped in favour of more highlights packages and quickfire goals round-ups for Leagues One and Two.
It will still air on ITV 4 at 9pm.
Soccer AM has disappeared from the Sky schedule while TNT Sports have decided to axe the Score live updates show which BT used to run.
Sky Sports News is getting a new studio while commentator Pien Meulensteen will join Sky’s Women’s Super League coverage along with former England international Izzy Christiansen.