02/03 Season - In Review
66 live games on Sky Sports, usually Saturdays 12.30pm (more frequently from this season), Sundays 4pm and Mondays 8pm, 40 live games on Premiership Plus, usually Sundays 2pm. Highlights of ITV on Saturdays, Mondays and occasionally Sundays.
Rounds 1 and 2, one live match on BBC, Sunday 1pm, and one live match on Sky Sports, usually Saturday teatime. Rounds 3-6, two live matches on BBC, usually Saturday 5.30pm and Sunday 1pm, and two live matches on Sky, usually Saturday 12pm and Sunday 4pm. One semi-final live on each channel, both show final live.
Two live matches per round on Sky Sports, plus both semi-finals and the final. No terrestrial highlights of the first few rounds before ITV sign a deal in late October for the return of regional shows up to the networked final show. This is the last season in which the semi-finals are only shown in the relevant regions (this season also featured the one-off Preliminary Round between Bristol Rovers and Boston due to Ipswich being in Europe while in Division One).
Nationwide Football League
Live games on Sky Sports. No terrestrial highlights anywhere until late October, although the Beeb showed a few goals on Football Focus, with 'pictures from Sky Sports' caption. Highlights deal eventually signed with ITV leading to the return of regional highlights shows, Nationwide League Extra and networked Play-Off Final highlights.
UEFA Champions League
Both legs of Manchester United's qualifier are live on BBC1, leading into a bizarre season where ITV still had the contract exclusively but nowhere to put matches, with Tuesday games on ITV1 and ITV2 (Tuesday now becoming ITV1's regular football evening) and Wednesday games on ITV2 and ITV News, although initially only on the cable version of the latter as it wasn't encrypted enough on Sky and didn't transmit in the evenings on DTT, although it was on all platforms by the end of the first group stage.
In February, Manchester United vs Juventus was shown on ITV on Wednesday - in addition to Arsenal vs Roma on Tuesday - but in March, a dead rubber Man U game is shown on ITV1 on Tuesday and crucial games involving Arsenal and Newcastle on Wednesday are scheduled for ITV2 and ITV News respectively, but due to the Gulf War the latter ended up on Granada Plus. When only Man U remained, all their matches were on ITV1, regardless of the day.
Ad hoc live matches on BBC1, BBC2 and Channel Five, and in the new year BBC2 shows all of Celtic's matches, home and away, until they reach the final, live on BBC1.
Competitive home matches live on BBC and Sky, friendlies live on Sky with highlights on BBC. Two away qualifiers this season, against Macedonia and Leichtenstein, both live on the BBC.
SPL's idea to launch their own channel falls apart and a TV deal is only signed a week into the season, with BBC Scotland showing live games more or less every Sunday, and the Old Firm derbies networked on BBC1. Channel Five bizarrely buy the rights to the Scottish League Cup, with live games in every round and the final live.
Presenters and Commentators
Gary Lineker remains main presenter, with Ray Stubbs on Football Focus, Final Score and the lesser highlights shows. Barry Davies doesn't renew his contract for several months so John Motson and Steve Wilson commentate on more or less all of the BBC's football until the FA Cup begins in November and Davies returns, along with Simon Brotherton and Tony Gubba.
Wilson doesn't do a live FA Cup match this season but does commentate on the Old Firm games and also an England friendly vs South Africa. John Motson commentates on FA Cup Final, Barry Davies on UEFA Cup Final.
Trevor Brooking is regular co-commentator on live matches (doing most of them now the BBC rarely have more than one live match a day) with Mark Bright making a few appearances (including Manchester United 6 West Ham 0) and Pat Nevin on the Old Firm.
Des Lynam presents Premiership highlights, Champions League live games on ITV1 and, for the first and only time, the crucial Arsenal game on ITV2 in March. Gabby Logan presents On The Ball, is regular stand-in on the Premiership, does Champions League highlights and hosts most ITV2 Champions League games.
Matt Smith becomes host of Monday Premiership, Jim Rosenthal and Angus Scott occasionally host Champions League games on ITV2 and ITV News, Scott also presents the dreadful Goal Rush. Nationwide League Extra no longer has a regular presenter, mostly being linked out of vision, though Tom Skippings occasionally tops and tails the show.
Regular ITV commentators are Clive Tyldesley, Peter Drury, Jon Champion and Guy Mowbray, who appear on The Premiership and share out the four live Champions League games in the first group stage, with co-commentators Ron Atkinson, Jim Beglin, David Pleat and David Fairclough.
Peter Brackley appears much less frequently than in recent seasons while League Cup highlights shows are still regional and therefore feature the likes of Alistair Mann, John Helm and Roger Tames.
Richard Keys still main presenter of Premiership, FA Cup and England matches, Marcus Buckland presents Premiership Plus.
Martin Tyler remains number one commentator, Rob Hawthorne number two, with Alan Parry on Premiership Plus. Andy Gray is main co-commentator, Brian Marwood co-commentates on Premiership Plus. The Football League returns with George Gavin as host and Ian Crocker as main commentator, moving over after the loss of the SPL.
Steve Scott remains as host, Jonathan Pearce as commentator, from this season combining his work with presenting on Five Live.