Belfast Telegraph

Anger as Colin Murray named host Channel 5 football show

By Aaron Tinney

Dundonald-born presenter Colin Murray is at the centre of yet another TV row after being named as the new host of Channel 5's Saturday night soccer highlights show - despite protests from the English Football League (EFL).

Bosses at the EFL are unhappy with the broadcaster's decision to hire Murray and have written to clubs telling them that it did not endorse the move.

Murray (40) will replace Lynsey Hipgrave and George Riley, who were informed by Channel 5 that break clauses in their contracts were being activated.

The decision paved the way for Channel 5 to rehire Murray, who was the host of its Thursday night Europa League coverage between 2006 and 2010.

The EFL was not consulted over the switch or the decision to hire Murray, which has angered its bosses.

The organisation was happy with the popular pairing of Hipgrave and Riley, who presented Football on 5 last season.

The EFL only discovered they wouldn't be returning for the new season on the same day as the hosts.

On Monday, Channel 5 Sport posted a video on Twitter to tease its "new signing", with the caption: "Looking forward to the start of the new EFL season? We've got a new signing to announce for Football on 5."

The clip teases Murray's employment in the same way a club would introduce a new player, before the host is revealed and speaks to the camera.

Former presenters Hipgrave and Riley both had deals with Channel 5 containing a clause stating that their contracts could be pulled in a six-week window at the end of the season.

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Lynsey Hipgrave has been axed by Channel 5

Show chiefs told the devastated pair two days before the end of that period that they would not be coming back for the new campaign.

Liverpool fan Murray quit talkSPORT last July after News Corp bought the station.

He claimed that the takeover had made his position "untenable" due to its link with The Sun newspaper and its coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Murray, who started his career in journalism in Northern Ireland and once worked as a grave-digger, was axed by the BBC in 2013 as host of Match of the Day 2.

He held the post for over three years.

The presenter, whose criticism of players has riled many football fans, was replaced by rising Beeb star Mark Chapman.

It is understood that some former footballers on the Sunday night highlights were annoyed by Murray's often outspoken approach.

Pundit Alan Hansen once told him to leave the negative comments to the experts.

The decision to boot him off delighted thousands of football fans, with one saying on Twitter at the time: "Hearing Colin Murray has been axed from MoTD2 has made me very happy. They might now get someone who knows something about football."

During this time, Murray was one of the most prolific broadcasters on British television.

He fronted darts shows, reported from Glastonbury and was the voice of weekend sport on Radio Five Live.

He also had The Late Show With... on Radio Ulster that he broadcast from his bedroom at his north London home.

Murray, who has been married to TV music composer Carly Paradis since 2012, was born in 1977 on a Protestant council estate in Dundonald and was educated at the local grammar.

He was expelled when he was 16 for being a disruptive influence in class.

Murray said about the experience: "Actually, in grammar school they call it politely asking you to leave."

Murray became a trainee newspaper reporter and spent a year on a fellowship at the Toronto Star in the mid-1990s.

He left to set up a pop magazine called BLANK and then moved to BBC radio.

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