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Ian Darke & Steve McManaman Join BT Sport’s EPL Coverage

UPDATED: Ian Darke and Steve McManaman were announced this morning as two of the talents that BT Sport has hired to bring its Premier League coverage to viewers in the United Kingdom beginning with the 2013-14 season.

Darke and Darren Fletcher will commentate matches for BT Sport with co-commentator Michael Owen. McManaman will be one of the pundits BT Sport will be using next season alongside Owen Hargreaves, David James and Rio Ferdinand.

While Darke and McManaman will be working for BT Sport, the two will continue working for ESPN. Darke remains ESPN’s English-language play-by-play commentator for US Men’s National Team games, the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.

“We welcome his agreement with BT Sport for Premier League matches in United Kingdom and Ireland, and we are pleased to continue to have him as the voice of our marquee soccer events in the United States,” said an ESPN spokesperson.

McManaman is a major part of ESPN’s soccer studio team and will be featured during their presentation of the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“His agreement with BT Sport in the United Kingdom and Ireland will give him an opportunity to remain engaged in the sport year-round,” added the spokesperson.

FOX Soccer lost the TV rights to the English Premier League for 2013-16. In the bidding last autumn, FOX Sports and ESPN put in a joint bid but were outbid by NBC Sports Group.

For soccer viewers in the United States who have been accustomed to watching Darke and McManaman on Saturday mornings, Monday afternoons and occasional mid-week games, those soccer viewers will have a whole new set of personalities to watch each week beginning this August on NBC Sports.

ESPN has US media rights to the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Rounding out their coverage, BT Sport have also hired Jake Humphrey, Mark Halsey, Des Kelly, Clare Balding, Tim Lovejoy and Ray Stubbs.

Several Premier League footballers have also been hired to promote BT Sports’ coverage.

As part of BT Sports’ announcement today, the new TV network that will be competing with Sky Sports beginning this summer plans on providing BT broadband customers in the United Kingdom with free access to Premier League matches.

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  1. Lou Bruno

    May 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Happy for them. Ian was a pro from the start and Macca grew into the job. Only negative for me of the NBC coverage is the bland international feed but on the other hand we will be getting Arlo White every week.

    Glad to still see Ian still with ESPN through the World Cup but who knows what the world wide leader in sports will do after that with soccer coverage.

    Chris: Does NBC have a second team of announcers? So is it Arlo White on the spot light game and then the international feed for everything else?

  2. Carmello

    May 10, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Really glad they both are working somewhere else after ESPN lost some of the EPL rights! I’ve really enjoyed the two of them over the last few years. Macca is underrated and Ian is just solid, no nonsense commentary. Enjoyed them both and will miss them!

  3. Matt

    May 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I don’t mind Darke on EPL coverage but not a big fan on him on the internationals…he doesn’t seem to know much outside of the EPL and the “La Liga two.”

  4. Bryan

    May 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Also, did I miss something ? Is Rio Ferdinand retiring ? You mentioned him as a pundit.

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Not retiring, but he’ll be appearing on BT Sport now and again as a pundit.

      The Gaffer

  5. Bryan

    May 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    What a shame we won’t have Darke to listen to any more- I think he and Macca together are great. Gaffer, if we get the TWI/IMG feed (whatever that is) for games next year, whom do they have for announcers ?

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      You’ll get the same announcers you get now for EPL matches, similar to what FOX Soccer gives us (except when they use Ian Wright/Gus). You’ll get folks like Alan Parry, Steve Banyard, Jon Champion, Gary Taphouse, etc.

      The Gaffer

  6. Goatslookshifty

    May 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    what’s happened to Andy Gray? Has he ever resurfaced from that sexual harassment incident a few years back? He was alright.

    • IanCransonsKnees

      May 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      I saw something yesterday linking him and Richard Keys to Al Jazeera. They host a mid morning show on Talksport which is grudgingly quite good due to the guests they have on.

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      He’s on talkSPORT every morning with Richard Keys. Reports are that they’ll both be joining Al Jazeera this summer.

      The Gaffer

  7. Nelson

    May 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I Like Darke a lot and actual like their casual dialogue with Macca. Wish Darke was doing more games than Arlo White, Meh.

  8. Donaldinho

    May 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Gaffer, can we assume that US viewers will see/hear Darke on EPL games that NBC will be broadcasting? We know that NBC will be showing all of the games each week, and it had been reported that most of those games will use a UK broadcast feed. Will NBC show BT Sport feeds with Darke/Fletcher on the mic?

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      Great question. Since NBC Sports will be using either their commentators or the world feed (originating out of the UK from TWI/IMG), we won’t hear the BT Sport or Sky Sports commentaries in the United States since they both have their own commentary teams/feeds, so no Darke.

      The Gaffer

      • Donaldinho

        May 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm

        Thanks for the answer. That’s too bad about Darke- we’ll definitely miss him on EPL games.

      • Jon

        May 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm

        Haven’t there been reports/rumors that NBC might partner with BT on some coverage? So maybe there’s a chance…? (Please say yes, holding on to hope…)

        Got to meet Darke in Denver when he was in town to call the USA game. Incredibly polite, gracious man. Stood outside in the cold to talk to all who approached.

        • The Gaffer

          May 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm

          There was talk about NBC Sports and BT Sport partnering on some resources, but that rumor was from about 2-3 months ago, and I haven’t heard anything since.

          The Gaffer

  9. Goatslookshifty

    May 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I feel like a schoolboy wondering who my teacher will be next year. I’m hearing all the good pundits and commentators signing on in the UK and fear we’re getting stuck with the substitutes here in America. Just don’t tell me Seamus Malin and John Harkes have a deal with NBC

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      I think you’re half joking, but we’re getting some of the best commentators and pundits on this side of the pond. The world feed from TWI/IMG plus Arlo White, Graeme Le Saux, Gary Lineker, Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe, Robbie Earle, Lee Dixon, etc.

      All the info is at

      The Gaffer

      • IanCransonsKnees

        May 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm

        Le Saux, Dixon & Lowe = good.

        Earle & Lineker = mediocre & overhyped.

        Mustoe & White I can’t comment on.

        BBC are after Gary Neville apparently.

        • The Gaffer

          May 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm

          Robbie Earle is very good. He’ll be a studio pundit/analyst.

          The Gaffer

          • IanCransonsKnees

            May 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm

            Be glad you haven’t got Andy Townsend!

            • The Gaffer

              May 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

              I agree. He’s awful!

              The Gaffer

        • jtm371

          May 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm

          White awful IMHO!

  10. IanCransonsKnees

    May 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    What this doesn’t tell you is that BT charge me £15 per month for broadband, phone and TV. They’ve said anyone taking up broadband only will get BT Sport for free.

    I’ll get this service without paying any extra for it. Being at the match usually 38 games is more than enough for me, and if they can match it with rugby and darts I’ll be chuffed.

    More on it here if you’re interested:

  11. John

    May 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Does anyone have Ian Darke’s phone #? I would like to invite him over to commentate the FA Cup Final for me so I don’t have to listen to the worthless sham that is Gus Johnson.

    • Guy

      May 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      😀 😀

      Watch on TV. Listen on talkSport. Easy to sync the two.

    • Rob

      May 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      What’s your address? I’ll be over

  12. Matt

    May 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Slightly off topic here Gaffer, but any word on what match Darke and Macca will have on the final day? Or will those decisions wait until after Sunday’s matches?

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      We’ll find out probably next Tuesday-ish. They won’t decide until after this weekend’s matches.

      The Gaffer

  13. VIP

    May 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    They should hire a proper coach for a national team in the first place. What THEY are performing on the field… it’s nothing you would write home about.

  14. GS

    May 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Is Darren Fletcher Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher ?

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Same name. Different bloke. The one they hired used to do commentary for BBC Five Live.

      The Gaffer

  15. Tony Butterworth

    May 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    What UK rights does BT Sports have ?

    • The Gaffer

      May 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      BT Sport have the rights to 38 matches a season from 2013-14 to 2015-16. The broadcaster will host 38 live Premier League games, including 18 ‘first pick’ matches.

      In the UK, BT Sport will show the first game of next season at 12:45pm BST on August 17.

      The Gaffer

    • Paul

      May 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Saturday 12.45 kick-offs (7.45 US time) and exclusive bank holiday and midweek matches.

  16. Conrad

    May 9, 2013 at 11:52 am

    will NBC lease rights next season to ESPN for some EPL games, like Fox does now? Or is EVERY fixture going to be in one form of NBC channels or online coverage?

  17. Marc L

    May 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I know a lot of people don’t like them, but these two never bothered me that much.

    McMinimum as a studio analyst? Not 100% on that, but he’ll probably be alright.

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