Having followed the top flight of English league soccer for 32 years and having spent 26 of those years in the United States scrambling to find the best and most reliable sources of soccer news and information, I have the experience necessary to share with you what every supporter of a Premier League club should have to survive a season and enjoy it in style.
Whether you’re a veteran soccer fan or a newbie, you’ll find several helpful tips for you in this article. Consider it your Swiss Army knife guide to following the Premier League.
Here are my top 10 picks for what every supporter should have:
- If you live in the United States, you need to subscribe to Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer Plus, ESPN2 and GolTV. Some of you may argue that GolTV isn’t as necessary, but the channel does show some Europa League games and offers a lot of La Liga and Bundesliga games if you ever feel burned out from watching too much Premier League soccer. And be sure to follow EPL Talk’s Premier League TV Schedule to stay up-to-date on which Premier League teams are going to be on television in the States.
- HD television and HD service from your TV provider. The beautiful game was meant to be enjoyed in HD. And now that more Premier League games are being shown in HD than ever before, it’s important you get the equipment necessary as well as check to see if the TV networks you need (see above) are available in HD on your provider. As of press time, DISH Network is the only one showing Fox Soccer Channel in HD in the United States. No TV providers are yet broadcasting Fox Soccer Plus in HD (SD only, for now). And GolTV may be in HD later this year.
- A DVR (digital video recorder). This is an absolute must-have for any soccer fan. There are so many games on each week featuring Premier League teams that you have to tape many of them for viewing at a later date.
- Subscribe to FoxSoccer.tv, if you’re in the States. While the relaunched broadband site experienced a few growing pains since it’s relaunch last week, the sheer volume of live Premier League games it features makes it a must-have. This coming Saturday alone, it has four live games being featured at 10am ET. If you want to see as much Premier League as possible, you need FoxSoccer.tv
- Get ESPN3. ESPN360, which will be renamed ESPN3 in April, is another must-have specifically because of the broadband matches it’ll show such as the Carling Cup, summer friendly tournaments and World Cup. ESPN360.com is a free service but it’s available through most ISPs in the United States. Visit ESPN360.com to see if you have it.
- Get an iPhone or Android phone. You’re not always going to be near a computer or television set to stay on top of the news about your favorite Premier League team, so be sure to have a mobile phone such as the Apple iPhone or any of the Android phones which will give you the edge when you’re trying to stay on top of things. For the Apple iPhone, must-have apps include iCarRadio Lite (for live radio broadcasts of Premier League matches from the BBC), EPL Live! or iFooty World (for up-to-the minute latest scores), ESPN 2010 World Cup (for everything World Cup related) and a Twitter app such as Twitterrific for the latest EPL news and discussion. Of course, there’s also the free EPL Talk iPhone app which features blog posts, comments, podcast episodes and more.
- Subscribe to podcasts via iTunes. Be sure to subscribe to the best Premier League-related podcasts such as The Guardian’s Football Weekly, the EPL Talk Podcast, TheGame Podcast, BBC’s World Football Phone-In Show, the official Barclays Premier League Podcast and more than 50 others.
- Buy Soccernomics, the book. I’m re-reading Soccernomics for the second time and it is without a doubt one of the best soccer books I’ve ever read. The reason why I feel it should be part of your survival kit is because the way it discusses globalization and the impact that has had on soccer and primarily the Premier League. It’s a fascinating read and it really feels as if it was written for the Internet age in terms of how it combines amazing facts with the way it makes you see soccer in a whole new way.
- Sign up for Twitter. No, Twitter isn’t just for kids. And no, Twitter isn’t just for telling your friends what you’re eating for dinner. For soccerholics such as us, it’s an incredibly useful tool to find out late breaking news and to participate in an underground soccer culture that spans the globe (at least it feels like we’re in the underground at times in the States). After you’ve signed up for Twitter, be sure to follow EPL Talk.
- Bookmark 101 Great Goals. While there have been significant advances in technology and the quantity of games available on television and the Internet, there remains one last bastion where the Premier League and its partners don’t serve us well and that’s in the form of goal highlights. Yes, there is a weekly highlights show from the Premier League and TWI. And yes, there are often nightly news shows that feature highlights. But there isn’t anything legal for immediate on-demand access to goal highlights. Thankfully, 101GreatGoals.com is the best alternate source available.
- Slingbox. With Slingbox, you can watch programming from your television on the Internet or a mobile device. Imagine you’re at work but you want to “tune” into your TV from your work computer and watch a live or pre-recorded Champions League game, you can do this with Slingbox.
- Audible. A great way to expand your knowledge of the Premier League is by listening to audiobooks of several soccer titles on Audible. Get a free audiobook from Audible today.
- Fantasy Premier League. To make the season more interesting, I highly recommend that you enroll for free and play the Fantasy Premier League game with hundreds of thousands of soccer fans from around the world. It’s even more fun when you play in a private league such as the EPL Talk Fantasy Premier League, which is in the top 50 of the best leagues in the world.
- Pub Finder. Last, but by no means least, it’s important to go see a Premier League match on television in a nearby pub every once in a while so you can get a completely different perspective on the beautiful game. Use Setanta US’s handy-dandy pub finder tool which still works.
Other than the list of the best soccer blogs and news sites, what did I miss? What things do you feel should be a part of a survival kit for soccer fans who watch Premier League matches on TV that aren’t listed above? Thanks in advance for your feedback.