With the end of Sky’s monopoly on live Premiership coverage in the UK, satellite providers Setanta have dragged a familiar face out of the Brighton wing of the Suaveness Hall Of Fame reports The Guardian’s Owen Gibson.
Amid dark tales of the two broadcasters poaching one another’s staff as the kick-off approaches, Setanta yesterday declared war on Sky with an aggressive marketing campaign highlighting its cheaper prices, and unveiled its secret weapon – veteran football anchor Des Lynam.The former Match of the Day host will act more as talisman than playmaker, fronting Setanta’s high-profile ad campaign and conducting a weekly flagship interview with big names such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Martin O’Neill.
Lynam said of his decision to join Setanta: “It’s a new kid on the block. Sky could do with a rival and I think it will do great. It’s healthy for the sport to have another main player in the game.” Both are trying to present themselves as the choice of genuine football fans, with Setanta’s marketing featuring romantic images of children kicking balls against walls, emotional crowd shots and the tag line “Born out of a love for the game”.
But, Lynam aside, Setanta joint chief executive Michael O’Rourke said the emphasis for the broadcaster would be on youth. Steve McManaman, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder lined up as Setanta’s star pundit, said: “Maybe the fact myself and Les [Ferdinand] and Tim Sherwood are from the younger generation and know a lot of the players will help. We’ve all played numerous times in the Premier League and I think maybe that’s what Setanta were trying to go for – that younger generation who have been there and done that recently.”
As someone who has witnessed ESPN’s roaring success employing the youthful likes of John Kruk and Dee Brown, O’Rourke might be on to something with this ex-jockery. Or perhaps, not.