Letter to BT Sport regarding Michael Owen and punditry

by Teekosey

I’ll be honest, I wrote this right off the bat after hearing that recently retired Michael Owen had been hired by BT Sport.  Simple as that.  As you might be aware i wrote to The BBC regarding the coverage of Match of the day and more specifically punditry last year.  I have also written to Owen in the past..

Letter to BBC

Letter to Michael Owen

I am not alone.  Most people are bored of punditry, but want it to remain.  We just want something better.  Most pundits are ex-players who really couldn’t give a flying toss about the game.  Therefore they reel our cliché after cliché or have pathetic in jokes with the colleagues.  As i say i wrote this without any major thought but wanted to make a presence felt with BT. I have since noticed that they intend to ‘recreate’ actions in the game with guys like David James.  Whilst it is an original effort i can see it being more Phoenix from the flames Fantasy Football style more than anything. Maybe it will be good, i hope so.  Generally we need a culture shift, which is my point.


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Ian Livingstone
Chief Executive
BT Group Plc Head Office
BT Centre
81 Newgate St

21 May 2013

Mr Livingstone,

I’ve just read that you have signed up Michael Owen as lead co-commentator and I felt compelled to write to you. I never had ITV digital, Setanta or ESPN so in all probability I wont be signing up for BT Sport. It’s a shame (for me) but lets be honest, there’s only so much cash about. But anyway that isn’t the point, if you want to help inflate the player’s wages further so be it, the point is about the product.

A year ago I wrote to the BBC about Match of the Day. I’ll attach a copy but to be precise I basically questioned the merit in keeping dull and unknowledgeable ex footballers in employment merely due to their name. I wanted (and still do) to see something fresh and MOTD seriously needs brining into the year 2013. With the exception of a news ticker at the bottom which has a few footballer tweets it is almost identical to 20 years past.

When I heard about BT Sport I knew exactly what was going to happen. You would sign up a number of high profile faces to advertise with and a number of ex and almost ex players as pundits. You haven’t disappointed.

Signing Michael Owen in my opinion is a real poor decision. He clearly fell out of love with the game 5 years ago. In the few MOTD2 appearances he has made, he looks like it’s always past his bedtime and shows no respect to his colleagues by staring at the ceiling whilst he isn’t directly being spoken to. It’s a sad indictment when the only notable thing he has done in years is grow a moustache. If i was hiring a pundit or commentator I would look at their history and consider the potential for them to say something magnificent or memorable at the right time that will stand the test of time. I wont go on any further about Michael because in all honesty he was one of my favourite players.

You know what, the presentation may be amazing. You may turn football on its head, but as the season is nowhere near starting we can only guess. A gang of yes men that are afraid to upset their mates is not what the people want. Lets face it Michael Owen is no Gary Neville. Why not break the mould and bring in enthusiastic and knowledgeable presenters, real characters and pundits that genuinely question the game combining it with the latest and greatest in-depth stats from guys like Opta? These guys don’t have to be ex players or familiar. It just isn’t going to happen is it?

I will give you some credit. I noted Mark Halsey has been signed up. His role is unclear. But if utilised well could be genius. I’ve thought for many years that a referee should be part of any high quality punditry team. We all whine about the referee’s decisions, which I enjoy, so having someone who is articulate and able to clearly explain the specific rule and how it has been applied would be a great addition. Personally I’ve been calling for someone like good old Graham Poll to be signed up for TV for a while.

So in conclusion, please can we have something fresh, original and inventive. Not just a rehash of the last 30 years.