Ex Addicks lead ESPN's World Cup coverage.
I was reading an interview
with my old Kent neighbour Shaun Bartlett the other day and saw that he is doing some well received television work in South Africa. He is also slated to be one of ESPN's World Cup reporters in South Africa this summer alongside Robbie Mustoe.ESPN
and sister network company ABC
will have 300 people working in South Africa this summer, more than the BBC
. I remember when I first lived in Chicago and the best football coverage was on the mostly Spanish language channel and now defunct Fox Sports World. How the beautiful game has infected the Americans. Next you'll know, a sleepy Chicago based global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage will spend $100m to sponsor Manchester United!
Anyway in 2002 ESPN commentated on half of the World Cup games from a studio in Connecticut, this time they are shipping over a live set and will be at every game as well as the opening ceremony. That's 250 hours of couch potato beer supping football magic.
Not convinced that the growing soccer followers will be happy just to watch the games live, ESPN have also hired some proper commentators. Believe me the last bloke, an actual baseball reporter called Dave O'Brien, was shocking. So what have ESPN's owners Disney done? Well they have opened up their dollar bank accounts to Martin Tyler, Ian Darke and Adrian Healey. I wonder if they will offer subtitles like they do on most British television programmes that get shown on American telly?
Scottish ex-pat Derek Rae will join Tyler, Darke and Healey on the box which fortunately means Tommy Smyth, who I can't abide joins JP Dellacamera on the radio.
In South Africa ESPN have also hired the services of various ex-players including Bartlett, who spent a couple of seasons in the MLS before he found his way to The Valley via Switzerland and Robbie Mustoe who had one season (2002/03) with us after being signed by Curbs on a free. Ruud Gullit, the sagacious Efan Ekoku, Steve McManaman, John Harkes and the instantly recognisable Alexi Lalas will join them. More surprising is Wigan manager Roberto Martinez who will also provide expert analysis.
Not a bad line up and more than comparable to the BBC team which adds Emmanuel Adebayor, Jurgen Klinnsmann (they'll appeal to Arsenal fans!), Gordon Strachan and Clarence Seedorf to Lineker, Shearer, Hanson and Lawrenson. The smug Colin Murray will also play a big role unfortunately.
as far as I can make out have yet to announce their World Cup team to support big new signing Adrian Chiles.