Well it’s almost here. I for one am really excited about this tournament and, as I don’t have a proper job, will be devouring it for the duration. The joy we get from the football this summer will, in part, be down to the quality of the media coverage. I love 5Live and will watch the action on the screen while listening to the radio, whenever possible.
So who are the runner and riders for this month-long feast of telly and radio football? BBC and ITV have the rights to show it all so for once BT Sport and Sky are left out in the cold with their noses pressed up against the terrestrial TV window.
Mark Chapman and Kelly Cates will be the 5live head honcho presenters, alongside Caroline Barker and Dan Walker. On TV Gary Lineker will present the 140 hours of coverage. For some reason they’ve gone and booked Thierry Henry to sit alongside Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer. A late addition is Vincent Kompany, who promises to be more interesting.
The BBC use their cast of characters for both radio and TV, so expect what some media a*sebiscuit will call “multi-platform” contributions (sounds dated already, doesn’t it?) from Germany’s former goalie Jens Lehmann, ex-Northern Ireland defender Gerry Taggart, John Motson, Frank Lampard (by satellite) and that nice Jurgen Klinsmann. They join the regular MOTD roster of Danny Murphy, Jermaine Jenas, Robbie Savage, Martin Keown, John Hartson, Mark Lawrenson, Kevin Kilbane, Neil Lennon, Gerry Armstrong, Chris Waddle, Danny Mills, Pat Nevin, Chris Brunt and Trevor Sinclair.
Additional presentation comes from inside the home nation camps and stadiums come from Gabby Logan, Jason Mohammad, Stephen Watson, Eilidh Barbour, Dan Walker and Mark Chapman.
Mark Pougatch and Jacqui Oatley will do the presenting. Pundits booked are Slaven Bilic, Lothar Matthaus, Glenn Hoddle, Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, Peter Crouch, Tony Pulis, Emmanuel Petit, Christian Karembeu, Louis Saha, Norman Whiteside, Eniola Aluko and Richard Dunne.
Others on the ITV team include commentators Clive Tyldesley, Sam Matterface, Joe Speight and David Stowell, co-commentators Andy Townsend and Iain Dowie, and reporters Gabriel Clarke and Leon Mann.
Who’ll be the best?
ITV have gone a bit more left field than the BBC. They’ve got lady pundit! No offence, luv, I’ll have the steak and a bottle of red. As ever the overseas contingent promises to add most original flavour with the always fun Lothar Matthaus, a man who it is impossible not to imagine in lederhosen necking a large stein, seems likely to be big hit. Having Tony Pulis and Christian Karembeu in the same room at the same time threatens to break the space-time continuum. Peter Crouch’s appearance will likely be the start of what will eventually be his post-playing media career, if he performs with the self-deprecating wit we already knows is his default setting.
We can only hope they let the red-eyed Slaven Bilic smoke in the studio whilst downing a large tumbler of something fortifying. It’ll be great to hear Clive and Andy get back on their commentating tandem. Iain Dowie is a good co-comm too, full of boyish passion for the game. A word also for Gabriel Clarke, one of ITV’s longest serving fellas who I remember being a reporter on Saint and Greavsie’s show back in 1834.
Over on the BBC, an extra wide screen TV has been installed to beam Frank Lampard in from USA. Jermaine Jenas, presumably because he’s the youngest and the only one who doesn’t think a computer is a typewriter attached to a telly, is heading up the new Match of the Day Snapchat account. Groovy, baby.
They’ve stuck pretty much with their regular MOTD and 5Live crew, no surprise there as they’re all solid performers, well-proven in combat. Gary Lineker has always been at his best in extended, unscripted formats and will be an easy, warm and entertaining front man. They’re clearly trying to sell the Henry appointment as a big news glamorous addition. We’ll see. Neil Lennon has come to the fore more recently and has been a stand-out performer on 5live. Good to have him around.
The addition of Jens Lehmann is a good idea and one that will pay off big, especially for Lawro who will already have all his 1940’s greatest musical hall jokes prepared. Klinsey is an interesting urbane addition, presumably live from his Malibu home in relaxed trouser and open neck shirt looking like it’s still 1975 and Linda Ronstadt is playing at the Troubadour tonight, with Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne.
The quality of the BBC’s football output isn’t in question. We all know this will be a great month but please can we get Danny Baker in on a couple of occasions, preferably after a few glasses of something refreshing?
The winner? Hard to call. There are only a couple of consistently weak performers on either side and plenty of potential stars.
Potential highs and lows (I’ll let you decide which)
– Chris Waddle’s exasperated rant after England’s exit and his co-comm off mic gasps of indignation and disgust every time an England player loses possession.
– The national stereotyping of the Germans and French pundits, by British pundits and vice versa.
– Any 5Live shows presented by Kelly Cates and Mark Chapman.
– Robbie Savage and Tony Pulis trying to pronounce Albanian names.
– JJ on Snapchat.
– Chrisses Brunt and Karembeu swapping tales of life in Middlesbrough.
– Richard Dunne and Noman Whiteside’s bar bill.
– Jacqui Oatley.
– Gary’s facial hair.
– Pulis looking at Petit’s hair.
– Rio’s clothes.
– Trying to understand Gerry Taggart.
– Thierry smiling.
– Glenn Hoddle’s trousers.
– Endless references to, and puns about, Brexit.
– Jokes about Crouchy being tall.
– Pat Nevin making reference to Albert Camus and The Blue Nile
– Ian Wright getting over-excited and having to be knocked off the ceiling with a stick.
– Lee Dixon
– Lawro’s jokes.
– The whole England v Gareth Wales thing.
– The return of the Andy Townsend comma, Clive.
– The glint of madness in Lothar Matthaus eyes.
– The end of tournament slow-motion clips package to a stirring soundtrack/poetry.
…oh yeah, and the football
It all promises to be a lot of fun, however there’s one huge issue that really needs addressing. If you’re one of those readers who think that here at F365 we’re all panty-wetting arty middle-class lefty liberals who wish football was presented by Bridget Christie and Yoko Ono from inside a bag, as statement against the objectification of women, better look away now, because we’ve got to talk about women. There’s more of them than us, Clive.
Out of at least 27 pundits on both stations, only one is female – Eni Aloku. I don’t care how you cut it, that’s just wrong. And more than that, it looks plainly ridiculous. It looks like we’re being told women don’t know anything about football and are not qualified to talk about it on TV or radio, except in a role as presenter. Why is this lie still being promulgated? I thought we were getting over this unthinking sexism.
The right wing consistently paint the BBC as being slavishly in love with the PC agenda, but Euro 2016 is all jobs for the boys. There are no women at all on the BBC’s pundit teams. No-one can seriously argue that there are not a plethora of football women available to pass comment. Surely no-one still believes that women are only allowed to comment on women’s football? An unstructured linen suit-wearing BBC diversity executive should be called to account for this. It’s not acceptable and it is frankly ludicrous to not have any female football pundits and, as we’re mandated by law to effectively pay your wages, we deserve an explanation for this extraordinary state of affairs. Frankly, it looks like rank sexist bigotry. At least have the good grace to get Grayson Perry’s Claire along.