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Memo To Fox: We Want US Commentators For Champions League

Fox Soccer Channel logoI admit it. I was wrong. When Fox Soccer Channel announced in the Spring that they had acquired the US TV rights to the UEFA Champions League for the next three seasons, I recommended to the EPL Talk readers that Fox should hire the world feed that featured the UEFA commentary team instead of putting Fox’s crew behind the mic.

After watching most of the Champions League matches shown by Fox Soccer Channel this season, I’ve come to the belief that the majority of commentators used by UEFA are absolutely dreadful. Tim White is one of the worst football commentators I’ve ever heard. Martyn Hindley is not as bad, but he’s close. The others are passable, but there definitely aren’t any excellent ones except for maybe Richard Kaufman.

My recommendation to Fox is that beginning with Matchday 5 of the Champions League on November 24 that Fox uses its own crew to commentate the games. While they’re not in the same class as Martin Tyler or a Jon Champion, they are light years more accomplished and better than hacks such as Tim White, Martyn Hindley and the other commentators hired by White. To be honest, I had no idea how poor they were until I heard them with my own ears.

That means that Fox should choose between the following commentators to share the workload:

  • Max Bretos,
  • Christian Miles,
  • Keith Costigan,

And, if available, they should try to add a co-commentator to each game such as:

  • Christopher Sullivan,
  • Nick Webster,
  • Brian Dunseth.

Now I know that some of you are not big Max Bretos fans. But you can’t fault his enthusiasm, and that’s what shines through when he commentates on games. Sure, it’s not to everyone’s taste, but he’s far more competent than Tim White. And, after all, he’s American – which means the experience of commentating a Champions League game is only going to make him improve and to expand his talent.

As far as the co-commentators go, I would highly recommend that Fox Soccer Channel considers including them in the games. Reason being is that the usage of a solo commentator is quite out-of-date and it’s often too much for the listener to take in, hearing one commentator babble on for 90 minutes. The two commentator system makes a massive difference.

Who’s with me? Post your comments — either in favor or opposition to the recommendation below.

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  1. NJ Brit

    December 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    American soccer commentary is ABYSMAL! TRULY AWFUL! It’s a cultural mis-match. Their talk is incessantly banal, they add no dimension or context to teams, match-ups, players, systems. They’re irrelevantly stat happy. And they don’t use vocabulary customary to the game (preferring to assimilate US sports vernacular). CRINGEWORTHY! Similarly, if I’m watching NBA in England, I want US commentators – they know their stuff. I’d take Spanish, German, French, Italian commentary over US. I may not understand the words, but I get what they’re saying.

  2. Colin Hendley

    December 3, 2009 at 11:02 am

    tim white hires his “friends” from local radio who will work for next to nothing, and who he deems are “worse” than him, so pose no threat to his own position. Its been reported on an English forum that White pays less than 200 Euros a game, so you can bet he’s making a big profit for himself out of the deal.

    the potential is there for GOOD UEFA world feed commentaries, but not while white and his tin pot company are involved in the process.

    UEFA must act.

  3. LS

    November 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Have to disagree, don’t care for the FSC guys. I’ve always liked the feeds. One guy describing the action, no annoying color commentators.

  4. David the Yank

    November 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I take the Gaffer’s comments mostly that the FSC English commentators have been spectacularly awful. They have all made some of the most interesting, exciting games I can remember sound horrendous.

    Why can’t others do what Martin Tyler does? His best goal calls are simply “Lampaaaaaard” or “GerRARD” and then he shuts up like Vin Scully does for 90 seconds.

    It is truly sad that Fox doesn’t give us Sky. Even if they had to superimpose some graphics whenever Sky does their many upcoming-on-Sky promos (because it isn’t a “plain” feed) that would be so superior. There are really good Sky commentators, 100x better than the boring UEFA ones; wish we could get them!

    Please please please FSC, do something here!

    Gaffer, can you ask them directly?

  5. Martin

    November 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I agree the commentaries have been dull but — and I know this will sound insulting — I can’t tolerate Americans doing soccer commentaries. They sound like idiots and they think their viewers are idiots. It would be like having an English commentator doing play by play for baseball or American football. It’s a cultural thing.So I’d rather stick with the English voices than have to endure the immature sounding voices we’ll have to endure during the forthcoming World Cup in SA.

  6. Leeboy

    November 11, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I agree you guys should just get the Sky Sports feed. They have commentary on EVERY game already, FOX and SKY are very closely related, yet FOX won’t use it. Why is this? Will the mention of SKY now and again confuse their viewers, dilute their brand etc? This is precisely the kind of rubbish their marketing people believe. They would rather pretend SKY don’t exist and not acknowledge them. PATHETIC.

  7. AJ

    November 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Ok, you all who like this idea are on drugs, right? Rehab facilities can’t be too hard to find. It hurts having Bretos as he is now, and Herz does the best he can but he’s awful. I don’t fancy Warren Barton. I see what they’ve done with him they figure

    “Hey this guy has played football and he’s English. He’s perfect.”

    Anyone ever notice that the biggest match he’s ever played in was 98 FA Cup Final, which he and Newcastle were played off the park.

    Bobby McMahon, yeah, so where’s he any better than Tommy Smyth? He never played professionally! Tommy has been around so long that he’s qualified.

    So let’s just go back to the way it was. Back on ESPN. Give it back to the rightful owners.

  8. SSReporters

    November 10, 2009 at 8:49 pm


    How about using the also off-a-monitor sometimes but much much better Sky Sports commentators? Some of those CL games I notice use Daniel Mann, Kevin Keatings, and so on with Alan McInally or Alan Smith.

    I am no expert at the TV rights but I’d take Sky’s commentators and not the D-level crap UEFA puts out.

  9. Dave G

    November 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I remember in 2000 I was on a tour of Old Trafford and one of the exhibits had a video of Ryan Giggs scoring (might have been his wondergoal against Arsenal) and there was a microphone for you to do your own commentary of the goal…

    I was shite at it

    I was shattered…but then I realized that I didn’t have my couch with me…so I was off my game that day

  10. The Guvnah

    November 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    The only place Max Bretos belongs is doing the news for WSVN in South Florida. That toolbox cant pronounce a player’s name with insulting with some latin roll of the “r” or other “Spanish-ism.”

    One thing we surely dont need is another cry-baby from the MLS. The MLS struggles for clout, and former US players have way too mnay opinions about the sport in general to carry the flow of a game’s slow points.

    I’d like some new blood, untainted with past performance on the pitch.

  11. Brian W

    November 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    If anyone enjoys Max Bretos’ commentary, then simply put, he/she fails to understand the game and the way in which it should be called.

    His goal call is horrid, his penchant for non-stop talking atrocious, and he can singlehandedly ruin a great moment by becoming overheated and describing everything going on down on the pich rather than let our own eyes do the talking.

    Watching the Fire/Revs match the other night was the last straw for me – I appreciate his enthusiasm, but he is simply awful.

  12. Panda

    November 10, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    You’re right and you’re wrong. Yes, the announcing has been atrocious, but it’s still better than Miles and Costigan.

    I think the problem at hand here is that there are sooooooooo many games right now. I think once it moves into the latter rounds, the announcing will be much tighter and you can have better commentators on better games.

    I do like the idea of maybe having Max Bretos and maybe Warren Barton or Christopher Sullivan doing the match of the day. I actually enjoy Bretos’ screaming style of commentating. Soccer is a game about passion and that’s what he shows throughout the game.

  13. CR7

    November 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Bring back Rae and Smyth. Bring back Rae and Smyth. Bring back Rae and Smyth. Bring back Rae and Smyth. Bring back Rae and Smyth.

  14. F1Mikal

    November 10, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Hey Gaff,

    With all due respect, you got this one wrong. Unless they send one FSC to commentate ONSITE as a partner, NO WAY for the FSC guys. But soon, someone will come around and be the voice for football in the USA, it takes time. Martin Tyler didn’t happen overnight. Like Murray Walker, the best comes only with experience.


  15. sammy

    November 10, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    PLEASE tell me this is a VERY early April Fools joke. FSC commentators are so awful, I leave them on mute every chance I get. They are a disgrace to the game of football. Those jokers wouldn’t be fit to be the weatherman in Middle-of-Nowhere, Nebraska.

  16. RedMD

    November 10, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Disagree…for goodness sakes… ESPN here have to be no more closely related to ESPN UK than FSC is to Sky Sports. If ESPN2 can use ESPN UK feeds (commentary and production) whenever possible, then THERE SHOULD BE NO REASON FSC CANNOT USE SKY FEEDS WHENEVER POSSIBLE!!!!!

  17. Joe in Indianapolis

    November 10, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Question: Honestly, wouldn’t you rather just hit mute and put on music than listen to FSC staff call a game?


  18. Joe in Indianapolis

    November 10, 2009 at 10:57 am

    YEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!! …. no, please, no

  19. Mike

    November 10, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Personally, I’d rather ALWAYS have the commentators that are there, watching the feed and then making sidebar over here in the U.S. does not cut it for big matches.
    So until FOX ponies up the money to send someone over there (which ain’t happening), I’ll take the UEFA guys thank you very much.

    • The Gaffer

      November 10, 2009 at 4:14 pm

      The UEFA commentators are calling the games off a monitor, so there’s no advantage in continuing to use them.

      The Gaffer

  20. who cares

    November 10, 2009 at 10:31 am



    That would be brilliant wouldn’t it?

    The CL FSC guys bore me to death.

  21. Dave

    November 10, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Sorry, Gaffer, but I can’t agree on this one. I can tolerate Max Bretos for CONCACAF matches, but the rest of them are terrible. There’s no point in replacing one pile of crap with another. We might as well stick with the crap we’ve got.

  22. brn442

    November 10, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I was one of the few that said from the beginning that the single commentary feed that fox was using was less than inspiring. Even when the commentator was half-way decent, the monotone ambience made the world footballs premier club competition feel more like an intertoto cup qualifier, miles away from what we were used to on ESPN.

    The predictable bashing of American based commentators is as relevant as last season’s Liverpool away kit. Yes, Harkes and Lalas should be arrested if they go anywhere near a studio but ones mentioned above can probably work if they’re paired correctly. Will I be jumping for joy, no but US based soccer commentary is another logical step in the growth of the sport Stateside.

  23. Toon

    November 10, 2009 at 9:46 am

    This is a joke, right? You want to listen to Keith Costigan? WTF?

  24. Jammer

    November 10, 2009 at 9:34 am

    You’re an idiot. FSC commentators are horrendously bad. Period.

  25. M. Sparks

    November 10, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Bring on SKY feed of keep it the same. But Please no FOX guys. They are the worst. Please know fox guys!!!

  26. tg

    November 10, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Can we also get Costigan?

    Oh, wait, no…that’s a terrible idea.

  27. Cantona

    November 10, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Gaffer.. what are you thinking..?!?!… I agree the commentating has NOT been the best.. but to think that the FSC commentators could do any better is nonsense! The commentating HAS gotten somewhat better than the debacle on matchday one.. but I cannot even fathom Bretos, Miles, and Co doing CL games.. It would drive me to find online feeds like what I do whenver GolTv has their comedy team in place. THE BEST way to remedy the whole situation would be to use the feeds from the UK – SKY and ITV.. dont know how feasible this is.. since it seems the feeds used are direct from UEFA… I give FSC credit.. they made the right decision using the UEFA commentators.. its not the best option.. but its miles better than having the inhouse guys doing these games…


    • Cantona

      November 10, 2009 at 8:21 am

      another solution would be to have the marquee match using the SKY feeds.. all with pre-post games analysis… we can all dream..


  28. mriemen

    November 10, 2009 at 7:58 am

    No way on Miles. As the previous comments point out – he comes across like a 7 year old. I can’t stand listening or watching him. Warren just barely seems to tolerate him on Soccer Matchday. I would take Bretos’ verbal diarrhea or Sullivan’s “..I used to play, you wouldn’t understand” attitude over miles any day.


  29. Marc

    November 10, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I would rather listen to the game in German instead of having the so called Fox Soccer Channel commentators call the game.

  30. man99utd

    November 10, 2009 at 7:09 am

    I’m not sure how to fix it, but the gaffer is right the current lot are rubbish. Inhouse FSC commentators couldn’t be worse. Maybe we should try to nick some ESPN or GOLTv talent.

  31. Dave G

    November 10, 2009 at 6:50 am

    The best thing to do is to watch the match on ITV online
    I can now share a new program for all ex-pats who want to watch TV from back home..there are 70 channels total on this great little app
    BBC1/2 (Match of the Day)
    ITV 1/2/3/4(Champions league/FA Cup)
    and of course RTE 1 for the Irish out there 😉
    go to
    100% safe…if you are apprehensive go here for a you tube video of this program
    DeadManWalking on gets the praise for designing this
    you will need a fast connection to make the channels work, I’ve been using it (eariler versions)for months..its top notch!

    • SMOOTH

      November 10, 2009 at 8:12 pm

      Great app. THX! do you know if it can be viewed in fullscreen mode?

      • Dave G

        November 10, 2009 at 8:33 pm

        just double click the screen
        Simpluzzz 😉

  32. JoeScribe

    November 10, 2009 at 6:33 am

    NO WAY. I actually enjoy Max Bretos and his passion. But the rest of that group would be worse than no comms at all.

  33. Woody

    November 10, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Nick beat me to it. Chris, you are way off on this. Bretos is a joke and I will hit the mute button if he’s on, with the exception of the Champions League highlight show. Sullivan is boring – he drones on and on. Miles sounds condescending. Fox having these guys be game commentators would be a MAJOR step back.

  34. nick

    November 10, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Are you kidding Gaffer? Max Bretos is an idiot,and Cristian Miles talks about soccer like everybodys 7 years old. Im amazed you didnt throw in that berk Tommy Smyth to completely ruin my day.
    Normally G man your spot on,but not today…………..

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