At the same time, hosting both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League can be a taxing job especially when there are concurrent games happening. To alleviate the load slightly and to have someone available as a back-up when needed, I would suggest that Ian Joy from FOX Sports would be the perfect person to fill the role. On FOX Sports’ Bundesliga coverage, he commanded himself well under the spotlight as the host of the broadcasts. Plus, he’s versatile enough where he can also be used as a studio analyst and co-commentator when needed, too.
If Turner Sports is interested in acquiring other soccer rights, as we’ve heard through the grapevine that they are, having someone like Ian Joy available in addition to John Dykes would be a smart hire.
Lead commentator team
As we’ve seen from NBC Sports, having announcers at the stadium elevates the coverage to the next level. My suggestion would be for Turner Sports to use the world-feed commentaries for the vast majority of the Champions League and Europa League games, but to hire commentator Derek Rae and co-commentator Danny Higginbotham to call the standout matches where Turner Sports wants to have their own talent in the stadium.
With Rae and Higginbotham both living and working in Europe, it would be relatively easy to have them continue doing their weekend work for their respective broadcasters as well as tackling one midweek Champions League or Europa League game for Turner Sports.
Turner Sports needs to have a presence at these stadiums, and both Rae and Higginbotham are at the top of their professions as well as being scholars of the sport.
In FOX Sports’ coverage of the UEFA Champions League, their most consistent pitfall was (and continues to be) the way that their studio talent fails to elevate the conversation about the game. Currently, their level of analysis is on the same par with the tens of soccer podcasts and talk radio shows you can hear across the Internet. As a result, the viewer scarcely gets any clear insight that helps to move the conversation along. All you get is babble.
Part of the issue with that is the lack of thought-provoking questions from the host. But it’s also a mix of FOX Sports having too many talking heads on the set where none of them can get more than 20 seconds of opinions in before another one interjects.