BT Sport has announced a dream team of former football stars – plus a one-time Premier League referee – to kick off its coverage of the Champions League next season.
New signings Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand will join Jake Humphrey in fronting the shows, with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, former Tottenham star and England manager Glenn Hoddle, ex-Premier League manager Harry Redknapp and former top-flight referee Howard Webb new additions to a punditry squad which already includes Paul Scholes, Michael Owen, Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves.
BT’s subscription-based service paid close to £900 million in 2013 for the exclusive three-year deal for the UK rights to show live Champions League and Europa League games. BT TV customers will have access to all 351 matches from the Uefa Champions League and Europa League next season via the broadcasters’ inclusive sports package, which includes BT Sport 1 and 2, ESPN and its new BT Sport Europe channel, which launches on 1st August and is described as “the new home of top European football”.
Lineker will continue to present the BBC’s Match of the Day Premier League highlights and FA Cup matches after signing a new five-year deal last month. Hoddle has moved from Sky Sports to BT Sport in a three-year deal.
The Champions League and Europa League will cost an additional £5 per month for existing BT Broadband customers, with selected matches available free-to-air on the broadcaster’s new freeview channel BT Sport Showcase.
Part of the commitment for BT Sport obtaining exclusive live European rights was that it would keep some matches available to all.
The broadcaster have confirmed they will show at least 12 live Champions League matches free to all on BT Showcase, with each British club involved in the tournament featured at least once.