Belfast Telegraph

Same old bright and shiny Sky Sports despite revamp

By Billy Weir

Finally it has arrived, an all-new Sky Sports News now with added HQ to add to your HD and a set pilfered from the warehouses of MFI. So, what's new? Well, the big counter is no more, the presenters perched behind a huge round table, with an inexhaustible supply of manly knights and a delectable array of dazzling damsels in various states of undress.

The table is located in front of many work stations, in an homage to World of Sport and Grandstand, where Sky's eager sports beavers scour the world to bring a feast of sports news (I sound like Jim White here) to the big table. Although it could well be a call centre or a sanctuary for the bewildered.

The other big, and I mean humongous, change is a TV screen in The Hub, which magically becomes 12 screens like the picture board in A Question of Sport, where the newly unmanacled presenters roam up and down like contestants from Miss World.

"My name is Kirsty/Hayley/Natalie/Alex/Charlotte and I've always wanted to work with children, animals and Jim White," they would say and breath a sigh of relief that they don't have to negotiate Andy Gray on their walk to freedom.

There's more red, white and blue than in Jim Allister's pants drawer, the screen an absolute joy for those with deficient attentions as it's busier than a tramp's vest, but the wee clock telling us there is only 18 days, four hours and 12 seconds to the close of the Transfer Window is still there in all its yellow loveliness.

No doubt the set will be transformed into something resembling Big Bird from Sesame Street having a custard pie fight with Spongebob Squarepants during a papal visit come the fateful day when Jim and Natalie arrive.

There's also a thin line to tread, and we're not back with Andy, as the lovelies' parade past the TV is made easier with a blue mark to follow, which also surrounds the round table, either that or there's been a mass cull of cartoon characters with police investigating the slaughter of Mr Bump and Little Miss Bossy.

And of course there's the obligatory social media desk, where Mike Wedderburn, who opened the shop for business on Tuesday morning, revealed it was manned by a man called Dave.

"But you know that already, by now he's already getting fan mail and has had three proposals of marriage," he told us, making the total number of women Dave has ever had contact with up to three.

The only issue I have is that they've gone a bit Spinal Tap for those of us blessed with HD (I still can't see any difference) with the arrival of Sky Sports 5 causing all sorts of problems.

Sky Sports News HD has moved to channel 401, meaning Sky Sports 1 is now on 402, Sky Sports 2 on 403 and so on and I no longer know or care where or even what Sky Sports F1 is.

Jeff Stelling had the honour of opening Sky Sports 5 (406) with the Uefa Super Cup, joined by a newly full-bearded Graeme Souness, or was it Noel Edmonds?

"It's a big night for me. I've never opened a channel before, although I have been known to close a few," he joked, while Graeme struggled in Norman Collier (one for the kids there) fashion with a misfiring microphone.

So, a new set, a new look, a new number and a new channel, but still the same old angry Souey and the same old guff for the shiny and bright SSN HQ.

THE GOOD:

It’s nice to have footy back with BT Sport sending Rio Ferdinand to interview Jose Mourinho in Rio meets Jose, where the Chelsea boss provided this gem when talking about new signing Cesc Fabregas. “He is a player I call the seven, because he’s not the six and he’s not the eight or he’s a six and eight at the same time,” he said, as Rio peeled off his shoes and socks to start counting towards 14.

THE BAD:

An awkward moment on BT Sport as Ray Stubbs talked to Arsene Wenger after the Community Shield on Sunday, saying ‘having worked with Alexis for a few weeks, what are your observations?’ ‘Sorry?’ came the bemused reply before Stubbs pointed out that he was talking about new boy Sanchez before Wenger didn’t add that he would still fancy her in a fight with Krystle Carrington.

THE UGLY:

And so Wayne Rooney is the new captain of Man Utd. A shameful decision and no easy task in following a true legend at Old Trafford. However, we all wish Howard Webb well in his new role...

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