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Jake Humphrey, Mario Balotelli and Cesc Fabregas before the UEFA Champions League final at Ataturk Stadium, Istanbul, June 2023.

14 toe-curling moments from BT Sport’s Champions League final coverage

Manchester City beat Internazionale 1-0 to win their first Champions League title, but the abiding memory for many British football fans was the abysmal coverage of the match from BT Sport.

Whilst the station’s presentation of non-league football and both the Europa League and Europa Conference League is admirable, their offerings for the big matches have frequently left viewers disappointed.

And we’ve identified 14 of the most toe-curling moments from the station’s presenters and pundits during the 2023 Champions League final in Istanbul.

Name change

Remote tribes in the Amazon rainforest, barely touched by human civilisation, will have been aware that BT Sport is being rebranded this summer.

That didn’t stop them from ramming it down your throats like Bruce Bogtrotter polishing off a chocolate cake.

Mario Balotelli

Balotelli was the surprise presence of the BT punditry team and lived down to the most pessimistic of expectations by uttering around 20 words all night.

After swerving his duties by offering a ‘no comment’ when asked for his pre-match prediction, Jake Humphrey said: “We paid thousands of pounds for this guy, and he says nothing…”

Great value for money lads.

Internazionale

If this had been a drinking game, you’d have been paralytic by half-time.

Joleon Lescott

Lescott played more times for Wolves and Everton than he did for Manchester City, but that didn’t stop him from joining Darren Fletcher and Steve McManaman for the biggest game in the club’s history.

As City wobbled under sporadic Inter pressure, the former centre-back was unable to fulfil his duties with nerves – as the viewers were reminded about on a minute-by-minute basis.

‘The greatest story in club history’

The problem with aiming for your own Wolstenholme soundbite, as Fletcher does here, is the adrenaline of the moment can often scupper the delivery of said words.

Besides, few neutrals would have agreed with his sentiment anyway. Flacid inanity at its worst.

Steve McManaman

McManaman has many critics, but we thought we saw improvement in his co-comms over the past few years.

But his contribution to this year’s Champions League final was abysmal; so lacking in insight, wisdom and sense of occasion that it made you pine for Jermaine Jenas.

Des Kelly

Asking Ilkay Gundogan to sign your press armband, seconds after noting said item is causing you grief on Twitter, was a staggering moment of hubris from BT’s pitchside reporter.

The Grealish interview

Have any of the BT punditry team ever interacted with a human being before?

‘Good luck’

Is Ferdinand broken?

The Walker interview

No notes.

‘Speak English!’

Ferdinand portrays the classic Brit abroad here, unable to countenance speaking in foreign tongues in the presence of a stout Englishman.

Dragon’s Den

We’ve been mulling this over for a good 12 hours and have no idea what he means.

Elephant in the room

While it’s more understandable the ex-pros would focus on the on-pitch action, the BT journalists failed to mention the huge asterisk hanging over City’s achievements… and failed to reflect the sentiment of the majority of their viewers in the process.

Humphrey send-off

Forget the match, the main event was saved until last… who knew it was Humphrey’s last match with the station?

By Michael Lee


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