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BT's Goals Show is the best way to watch football right now

James Richardson and his panel of European experts are our favourite things about the channel’s Champions League coverage.

BT Goals Show Source: Twitter/BT Sport

WHEN BT SPORT began its coverage of the Champions League at the start of last season, one of the most interesting additions to its line-up was The Goals Show.

Only launched in 2013, the subscription network beat Sky Sports and ITV to land broadcasting rights for the continent’s top club competition and the Europa League in a three-year deal worth €1.1 billion (£900 million).

It was another huge statement of intent by BT after they had muscled their way in for a slice of the Premier League pie and a host of big names were signed up to front their coverage.

Gary Lineker is joined by ex-England internationals to analyse live matches on their flagship programme each night, but there’s something a little different over on BT Sport 1.

Presented by the brilliant James Richardson of Football Italia and The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast fame, The Goals Show gives the viewer a much more rounded picture of all the evening’s events.

Think Soccer Saturday except it actually features live footage of the goals and major incidents as they happen, along with less hysterical yelping from the panelists and more thoughtful analysis.

This past Tuesday night, it proved the perfect way to keep abreast of the action with no real stand-out game to focus on.

28 goals would go in across the eight matches including a record 12 at the Westfalenstadion, meaning German correspondant Raphael Honigstein was kept particularly busy.

“It was certainly really enjoyable to do,” Richardson told The42 this week. “It’s always nice when there are lots of goals, and there certainly was that on Tuesday night.

“When you get to this stage in the competition with so many stories going on, it’s hard to know which game to keep track of.

The idea of the show is that this way you can know what’s going on in all of them.

“The Dortmund game was ridiculous and there was plenty of interest in the other matches as well — Juve coming back against Seville, the story around Spurs at Monaco. It was all very exciting.”

Jimbo Goals Show Presenter James Richardson. Source: YouTube

While the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ian Wright and Steve McManaman are regular guests on BT’s other channels, The Goals Show made a conscious move to bring in top football journalists and Richardson sits alongside Honigstein, Frenchman Julian Laurens and Italian football expert James Horncastle.

Former Premier League referee Howard Webb completes the panel and bring his experience of officiating at the top level.

Richardson explains the reasoning behind that decision.

“Ex-pros obviously have a huge contribution to make because no one can understand like they do what it’s like to be in these conditions,” he says.

“At the same time, in a show like this we’re looking at stories from leagues that a lot of people in this part of the world aren’t familiar with as they’re not following them on a day-to-day basis.

“We try and sum up the situation — not just how a goal was scored but what it means and the developing stories.

“There are lots of things ex-pros can do but the best people to comment are those who have direct experience and who are actively following day-by-bay, not just reading research notes.

They have an emotional connection to the stories in those different countries.

“We’re incredibly lucky to have people like Rafa and Julien. They have such a good grasp and are such good communicators even though English isn’t their first language. Then there’s James Horncastle, who has got a great knowledge of the game right across Europe having lived in Italy. They’re really great to work with.

“One other thing, because of all the goals we’re showing there is limited time and being journalists they have an editorial sense and can communicate while keeping it as tight as possible.”

BT Goals Show panel Richardson, Horncastle, Lauren, Honigstein and Webb. Source: YouTube

The Goals Show isn’t the first programme of its kind but its growth in popularity since first airing 14 months ago suggests there is an appetite for the format over here — although the subscription fee and Virgin’s recent loss of the eir Sports package means many won’t get the chance to see it.

On a broader level, there has been a shift in how fans consume their football in recent years.

“I think there has been a change but it’s not necessarily because of the Goals Show,” explains Richardson. “Soccer Saturday obviously can’t show the goals because of the restrictions on televised football in Britain between 3pm and 5.15pm.

“It’s true that Sky could’ve done this with the Champions League but didn’t, but it is something that has been done in other countries such as Germany and Italy.

Now that it’s there, people will expect it wherever possible in the future.

“In the meantime, there is a real change in the way that people are watching football. They tend to use multiple screens with a laptop or a tablet running one game or the Goals Show or even just checking Twitter.

“Whereas before people focused on a game for 90 minutes — this isn’t necessarily a good thing — but now people tend to take a broader and almost more meta view of things by keeping their eye on different stories as much as following the action.

“That’s something that The Goals Show lends itself too as we are summing everything up rather than following one game in its entirety.”

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Ben Blake

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