BT Sport have targeted ITV’s highly rated Gabriel Clarke to be their main touchline reporter for their flagship Champions League coverage next season.
BT, having spent £897million on winning the exclusive rights from Sky, want to assemble a new team for their live European match broadcasts that are expected to be hosted by Gary Lineker, with Rio Ferdinand as the lead pundit.
Clarke has worked for more than two decades at ITV where, as well as winning awards for his news reporting, he has written and directed numerous acclaimed documentaries including Keane and Vieira — ‘Best of Enemies.’
Gabriel Clarke is being lined up to be a touchline reporter for BT Sport’s Champions League coverage
But from next season ITV’s football portfolio will be limited to Champions League highlights and England matches, making Clarke more susceptible to a big BT offer.
BT’s current matchday reporters for their FA Cup and Premier League fixtures are Ray Stubbs and Des Kelly.
Leeds’ wacky owner Massimo Cellino was given permission by the Football League to return from his ban — imposed after he was found guilty of tax evasion in Italy — a day early to watch his club’s last match of the season. However, the contrary Cellino went to scout Southend goalkeeper Daniel Bentley at Morecambe instead.
Massimo Cellino (right) has had his Football League ban lifted and scouted Southend’s Daniel Bentley
Ruud Gullit, a TV pundit not noted for doing much research, failed to make it to Manchester last Saturday for Match of the Day duties following problems boarding a flight from Amsterdam.
Gullit (right) was stopped from entering the aircraft because his ticket was not issued with his name spelt as it is in his passport — Rudi Gullit — and was replaced at short notice by Phil Neville. The BBC responded sympathetically but Gullit has already lost his regular gigs with Sky.
A BBC spokeswoman said: ‘Ruud had issues with his flight on Saturday morning, which meant he was unable to reach Salford in time to watch the Premier League games. We are fortunate to have an impressive team of pundits, so made the necessary changes without any detrimental effect to the show.’
Ruud Gullit missed his flight from Amsterdam and was unable to make Match of the Day
Watford’s promotion to the Premier League will make for some interesting club meetings next season. Scott Duxbury, chief executive at Vicarage Road, was found by an independent tribunal to have lied to the Premier League over Carlos Tevez’s registration while at West Ham. Duxbury told Tevez’s owners that third-party rules were in place but informed the Premier League differently to ensure Tevez could play crucial relegation matches for the Hammers.
Ed Smith, the posh commentator on Test Match Special, is an unlikely choice as ghostwriter for Andrew Flintoff’s latest auto-biography, ‘Second Innings’, to be published this summer.
Flintoff once famously sledged Smith — who was educated at Tonbridge School and Peterhouse, Cambridge — when he was batting for Kent against Lancashire, chirping: ‘Come on lads, let’s get Ed out so he can go beagling on the Downs.’ Smith countered: ‘You don’t know what beagling is.’
However, Freddie was welcoming during Smith’s three-Test England career.
Andrew Flintoff (right) has chosen Ed Smith to ghostwrite his new auto-biography ‘Second Innings’
Serie A champions Juventus are resisting interest from English clubs in their coveted France midfielder Paul Pogba, whose price tag will be over £50million. Ironically Pogba, who spent nearly four years at Old Trafford, left Manchester United just one month before he would have qualified as a homegrown player.
Juventus have no interest in parting ways with star midfielder Paul Pogba despite heavy interest
Ray Whelan, a British sports industry executive, was dubbed a fugitive by Brazilian police and then jailed in Rio de Janeiro following a police crackdown on ticket touts at the World Cup.
But he was back at the Soccerex conference in Jordan yesterday with all charges against him having been dropped.
Whelan, a director of FIFA’s ticket and accommodation partners Match Services, was on the stand of Heine Allemagne, the Brazilian inventor of the vanishing spray used by referees at free-kicks, who had helped Whelan during his troubles in Rio.