A working day for Match of the Day.
Posted on 11th February 2017
One of the most frequent questions I am asked (particularly by those hoping to work in the media) is what a typical day is like when I am working at a Premier League fixture for Match of the Day.
The answer is always dependent on which company is the host broadcaster for that match. The host provides the outside broadcast, whether that be Sky Sports, BT Sport or BBC Sport, for use by all the Premier League’s TV partners around the world.
For the last couple of seasons the Premier League have made it mandatory for managers and one player from each team to be interviewed in the build up to the match. Three questions are allowed for each interview, and the idea is that broadcasters not just in the UK, but all around the world, will have access to pre match material that they can use.
On a match which is to be broadcast live in the UK by either Sky Sports or BT Sport, that company will provide the reporter to do these interviews. If it is a match that is not shown live in the UK, the host is either Sky or the BBC. Again if it is Sky they will provide the reporter, if it is the BBC then usually the Match of the Day commentator has to do them.
So bearing all that in mind, there are two possible scenarios as to what my typical working pattern is for Match of the Day. The below are based on a Saturday afternoon 3pm kick off, which is not being shown live in the UK, but is available for live broadcast by overseas television.
3pm Match hosted by BBC Sport.
I typically arrive at the stadium just before midday, although that can sometimes be earlier if required to do a live in vision piece into Football Focus on BBC1. This is generally a couple of questions from Dan Walker, in which the reply is hopefully informative!
After a chat with the director and floor manager and a bite to eat it’s off to the dressing room area at about 1.15 in the tunnel for the pre match interviews. As mentioned before one player from each side and both managers are brought into the interview area (don’t get any illusions of grandeur, some are about the size of a cupboard). It tends to be the players first, then at 1.45 together with my colleagues from Sky we get the team news, which we have to take a photo of. This is strictly embargoed until 2pm, but the extra 15 minutes knowledge that we have is invaluable.
Then the two managers are brought in, and you try to elicit some information as to the reasons for any changes, their approach to the match etc. It can be difficult to try and get a different response to that given by the manager in their pre match media conference on the Thursday or Friday, but you do try. This is the reason why on Final Score you sometimes hear a person associated with Sky asking the pre match questions, and vice-versa on Soccer Saturday.
That usually is done and dusted by just after two o’clock, and then it is up the gantry to write the pre match introductions, with usually another in vision piece to camera to be done into the early stages of Final Score, which is on the BBC red button and website from half past two. From ten to three the pictures are live to the world, and my Sky colleagues are providing words to them for Premier League Productions.
3pm Match hosted by Sky Sports.
Again, I will arrive at the stadium just before midday, have a chat with the director, before going into the press room for a bite to eat and a catch up with colleagues. As there are no pre match interviews to be done, this is quite a relaxed time. I will go into the interview area to get the teams at 1.45, and then make my way up to the gantry. As you’ll have gathered, it is a lot busier on a BBC hosted outside broadcast when you are the Match of the Day commentator.
We are required to do two different introductions for Match of the Day, one of which is more detailed than the other. These are known quite simply as the long and the short. If you’ve seen the programme you’ll know which is which. The reason we do both is so there is a choice for the match edit, the length of which is entirely dependent upon what happens in the match and in the days other fixtures.
Everything is done live. OK, for Match of the Day we are live to an edit suite in Salford rather than to a watching TV audience, but it is done as it happens. Anyone who says we dub our commentary on afterwards is wrong.
It is slightly different doing a commentary for an edit as opposed to one that is going live to air. You know that a lot of what you say won’t be used, but that doesn’t mean a lack of preparation. The best analogy I can think of is that doing a match commentary live to air as opposed to live for an edit is like driving in France as opposed to driving in the UK. Essentially it’s the same, but it’s different.
Very occasionally you will be asked to provide a little bit of wildtrack commentary, ie words that do not match what is actually happening at the moment you are saying them. This is to help the edit, especially when for example a significant incident occurs when we might be concentrating on a slow motion replay. This happens very rarely, to be honest.
At full time you finish with a brief summary of the match, and end on the score.
What happens now is again dependent on whether the BBC or Sky are the match hosts. If it is the BBC then frequently I have to stay in position to do a live in vision piece into Final Score, which means the post match interviews are done by the Final Score reporter. If no in vision piece is required then I do the after match interviews, as I have to do if the host is Sky.
There is now a requirement for a player to do a quick interview in the minutes immediately after full time, which is known as the ‘flash’ interview. This interview is available to all broadcasters, and often means there is no need to talk to the scorer of the winning goal again specifically for the BBC, as we can take an answer from that interview. The flash piece is usually done by a reporter from either Sky Sports or Premier League Productions.
I then interview both managers, plus any other player that is deemed necessary. After that it’s time to say thanks and cheerio to all, and off for the drive home, whilst also making a call to the programme editor to have a quick chat about the match, and anything newsworthy in the post match interviews.