London: The UK’s big four TV football broadcasters — Sky, BT Sport, BBC and ITV — are all promoting their pundits, but Middle East network Al Jazeera have assembled by far the biggest roster of analysts.
While the four UK networks rely on a small group of permanent experts, Al Jazeera have assembled more than two football teams’ worth of talent who will fly out to Doha to work alongside Richard Keys and Andy Gray on coverage of the English Premier League (EPL) and Uefa Champions League.
There are 25 pundits already committed to be in Qatar up to the start of December, with most spending several days at a time in the Middle East to appear on various shows. Some, including Ruud Gullit, Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage and Ray Wilkins are regulars on UK channels too.
The others booked by Al Jazeera are Ray Clemence, Mark Hateley, Tony Dorigo, Kevin Keegan, David Platt, Clive Allen, Gus Poyet, Trevor Steven, Nigel Spackman, Glenn Hoddle, Frank Stapleton, Alex McLeish, Jason McAteer, Tony Pulis, John Barnes, Peter Reid, Dennis Wise, Chris Coleman, Les Ferdinand, Bryan Robson and Ian Wright.
Earlier this year, Al Jazeera stole a march on rivals Abu Dhabi Sports by winning the rights to broadcast the EPL for the next three seasons.