So today is the day.
The day UEFA Champions League coverage begins on Fox Soccer Channel. It starts with a live match at 2:30 p.m. (eastern) featuring Sheriff Tiraspol vs. Olympiakos (kickoff is 2:45) and then a tape-delayed airing of Celtic vs. Arsenal. I don’t know how the rights breakdown in such a way that the Celtic-Arsenal game is on tape delay here in the States on FSC, but that’s the deal. There is a pregame show that begins at 2 p.m.
FSC will also be showing all the other games and programming from today in later time slots:
* A 30-minute highlights show airs at midnight and 1:30 a.m.
* Delayed broadcasts of Sporting Lisbon vs. Fiorentina (2 a.m.) and Politehnica Timisoara vs. Stuttgart (4 a.m.).
* At 11 a.m. tomorrow, FSC will show the last of today’s five matches, featuring FC Copenhagen vs. Apoel Nicosia.
I will be interested to see how FSC handles this coverage. Their pregame work is going to have to be a massive step up from their usual duo of talking heads in the run-up to Premier League matches. It’s one thing to sit in a studio and discuss Everton’s forwards. It’s very much another to be in the know about Sheriff Tiraspol and their favored formation, top defender, and usual tactics. Given what we hear from their announcers and summarizers at times regarding MLS teams and players, this might be an adventure.
There is also the matter of which announcers are used. I think it was everyone’s nightmare when this was first announced that Max Bretos would be doing PBP on a match like Celtic-Arsenal. “Arshavin runs on, danger here! … Chance for 2-1 … YEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!”
God help us.
There are going to be bugs and slip ups – this is a massive undertaking for FSC and it all won’t be perfect the very first day. It’s good that they are showing these qualifying rounds, which we didn’t get previously from ESPN. And for a few, it won’t matter how well FSC does with its coverage, because some people are simply never satisfied.
I’m willing to give it a chance and see how it goes. In the end, I’m going to be watching these games anyway, whether they were on ESPN, FSC, or the Billy Mays Memorial Infomercial Channel.
NOTE: FSN regional networks will have live coverage of Celtic-Arsenal at 2:30. Check your local listings for what channel that is in your area/provider.
For folks in the DC/Baltimore area, Comcast SportsNet has the game, with a pregame beginning at 2 p.m. – probably the same as what airs on FSC.