The biggest transfer news of the Summer so far emerged this week when the BBC revealed that third string presenter Ray Stubbs would defect to ESPN Sports.
ESPN have taken over the games for which Setanta held the rights until they imploded last month, and, although they have decades of experience in broadcasting Baseball, American Football and Dodgeball, they are pretty new to Unamerican Football, and so will need to build a team from scratch. Who better to lead it than Stubbsy?
Stubbs has been at the BBC for as long as I can remember and has always filled the gaps left by the holidays and absences of more accomplished presenters. When Gary Lineker takes the week off to go to The Masters every year, Stubbsy gets the call, stepping effortlessly into the Lineker loafers and prompting the Alans to mouth their platitudes.
Being a scouser, he first came on the scene during the Lynam / Rider days when a regional accent invariably exiled a young reporter to Burnden Park or Gigg Lane. When Lineker stepped straight off the pitch and ahead of Stubbs in the pecking order, a lesser man would have walked away for the riches of Sky, but Stubbs persevered.
As the BBC has changed its attitude to those accents in their presenters, Stubbsy was once again bypassed as Brummie Adrian Chiles got the Sunday night MOTD2 gig.
Finally, the advent of the red button lent our man a regular gig in the shape of Score – the BBC’s woefully inferior comparison to Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday. Stubbsy does his best but to go up against the peerless Jeff Stelling is always going to be a thankless task. And the best broadcaster in the world would struggle to wring charismatic chat from Lee Dixon and Garth Crooks.
When Setanta launched its Premiership coverage two years ago, their dream team of Steve McManaman, Les Ferdinand and Tim Sherwood was the stuff of dreams – prompting literally hundreds of fans to sign up to their service.
ESPN have laid their cards firmly on the table with their choice of Stubbs as front man. As they assemble the rest of their team, expect fireworks – Chris Waddle as chief Alan? Graeme Le Saux as pitchside reporter? First division all the way, and not in a good way.
Collapse of Setanta – Don’t Mess With Murdoch. 10th June 2009