From former Hearts man Michael Stewart’s opinion-splitting edge to ex-Celtic star Chris Sutton’s panto villain role, BT Sport has brought a lot to the Scottish football table.
Their coverage is set to disappear from our screens now that Sky has bought the rights starting from the beginning of next term – whenever that is in light of the recent SPFL suspension. Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, didn’t exactly find himself the most favorable man in the room with his recent comments on BT’s coverage of Scottish football.
“I think we will see the Scottish game given the profile and coverage it deserves next year by Sky Sports,” he told the Price of Football podcast. “We went through a process – an auction process effectively – BT and others had the chance to outbid Sky.
“We had joint rights between the two since 2012 and before that with Setanta – 2009 was the last time we had an exclusive partner. Since then rights have been shared so it’s perhaps no surprise the broadcasters haven’t given it the love they show other leagues. I’m confident we will see a sea change in the approach with Sky taking up the reigns exclusively.”
To be fair to Doncaster, those answers sound a hell of a lot worse than they have been made out to be. He didn’t criticise BT in any way, simply answering a question put to him about Sky’s coverage compared to BT’s, but it led to furious backlash from presenter Daryll Currie and a host of fans.
An excellent combination
Currie probably had the right to feel disappointed in those comments on face-value alone. Regardless of what you make of Doncaster’s assertion, many would agree that BT have brought the best coverage of Scottish football for many a year.
Their approach is entertaining, light-hearted, knowledgeable and passionate about SPFL football. They have ex pro’s like Sutton, Stewart Ally McCoist and Stephen Craigan who have all been top players for big Scottish clubs like Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Motherwell.
Yeah you’ve got the odd one who makes a dodgy remark or a wayward horse analogy but that’s to be expected when their opinion is constantly asked for.
Sutton’s sometimes accused of having too much bias towards Celtic but he’s consistently churning out big talking points. McCoist adds insight and co-comms in equal measure whilst Stewart often sparks debate.
Craigan too has a great knowledge base of what’s required at some of the smaller clubs like Motherwell. As a complete package, their punditry team is strong, and having confident media personnel in Currie and Emma Dodds offers a shiny package.
Rory Hamilton and Derek Rae before him as commentators have also did a grand job of talking over our game. They have enough knowledge to carry the commentator role themselves, whilst also possessing awareness to either let the football or ex-pro beside them speak when required.
BT Sport’s coverage has respect for Scottish football in abundance and fans appreciate that. What Sky bring to the table as an exclusive broadcaster remains to be seen, but BT have certainly set the bar high.