Thursday 15 August 2013
The Barclays Asia Trophy has long been a microcosm of what the Premier League has done in England, albeit in a remote setting. As well as the Premier League-style matches on the pitch, with Manchester City beating Sunderland in the final in Hong Kong Stadium to win the 2013 competition, there is the community work undertaken by the participating clubs in the local area.
"The beauty of those interviews is you can get what the team is thinking and their approach to the match"
For once, this year’s edition also gave a preview of something that is about to happen to the Barclays Premier League from the forthcoming 2013/14 season. Before each of the matchdays in this year’s Barclays Asia Trophy a player from each of the Premier League teams gave a pre-match interview to the TV cameras shortly after stepping off the team bus at Hong Kong Stadium ahead of preparing for their match.
Such access to players shortly before a Barclays Premier League match has not been a regular feature until now, but under the new television deals this will be one of a number of innovations that the rights-holders in England, Sky Sports and BT Sport, and those around the world, will enjoy to enhance the viewing experience of the Barclays Premier League for TV viewers.
From the forthcoming season, the broadcaster which has rights to show the match live will be able to ask the manager and a player from each team three questions each shortly after they arrive at the stadium. In cases where Sky Sports and BT Sport is not broadcasting the match, access will be granted to Premier League TV, which produces the live coverage of matches around the world.
David Jones, the presenter of Sky Sports’ new Saturday Night Football show, is looking forward to the opportunity to speak to the players at the stadium before the 5.30pm match that his programme, which will be presented with Jamie Redknapp, will show.
“The beauty of those interviews is that although you have three questions, they are short and sweet,” Jones said. “We did a bit last year with captains on arrival and with three questions. We found it gave us a different angle on not just what the managers' spin is but what the team is thinking and their approach to the match.”
BT Sport will be the first broadcaster to take advantage of the new rules when it shows the first live televised match of the season, Liverpool taking on Stoke City at 12.45pm on Saturday 17 August.
“It is excellent we will be talking to players before the match,” Jake Humphrey, the presenter of BT Sport’s Saturday show, said. “When the game is over, when speaking to the press, players are tired and emotional. Before the match, you will get a slightly more considered approach to how they are going to attack the match.
“We will be looking to mix it up so we hope to have people like former Premier League goalkeeper David James speaking to the teams’ goalies before a match. James knows what it feels like ahead of a match and we hope that he will be in a position to get us a unique perspective.”
As well as increased pre-match access to clubs, broadcasters will also enjoy for the first time “mixed zones” where the rights-holders will await the chance to ask questions of players from each club who must pass through on their way to the coach after a match. Another new rule is that all clubs must make all first-team players available, during the season, for a two-hour weekly interview slot for UK and international live rights holders.
With the greater demands from domestic broadcasters and from the ever-increasing number from abroad, from this season each club will have for the first time a dedicated “match manager”. These people will help the clubs manage all the requests from host broadcasters and international TV stations, which can number up to 20 for certain matches.
Overseas broadcasters will also enjoy greater access in their coverage of Barclays Premier League matches because all clubs are now required to set aside15 dedicated commentary positions for them. In some clubs, the TV gantries where cameras and commentators are housed have been expanded to meet the new guidelines.
"The Premier League’s rights holders do a fantastic job in broadcasting our matches"
It is not just the broadcasters who will enjoy improved facilities at Barclays Premier League this season, but the written press, too. Clubs must ensure that their press boxes have dedicated wired and wireless access at every seat and that any other media room offers similar access as well as a dedicated area for photographers.
Media companies should be able to enjoy greater photographic coverage from Saturday, too. Photographers at all matches will enjoy wi-fi access to send their photos from their location pitchside, when before, in some instances, they had to wait until half-time to go to a room to file their images or rely upon “runners” to relay them.
“The Premier League’s rights holders do a fantastic job in broadcasting our matches,” Premier League Director of Communications, Dan Johnson, said. “The level and quality of coverage, domestically and internationally, is what helps set the competition apart from others, as well as giving fans great access to their clubs.
"These new developments will help the broadcasters keep delivering Barclays Premier League football to the fans in the best possible way.”