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Working for Sky Sports | Statistics, Facts and Trivia….Back to you Jeff…
by Michelle Owen (Sky Sports Presenter)

You might ponder how us reporters know it was the striker’s first goal in ten games or how Jeff Stelling back in the studio can tell you off the top of his head it’s five defeats in a row for a club. Let me tell you just a few of our secrets… 

The big secret is… well there isn’t one! Statistics now are readily available if you know where to look. There are so many incredible websites online that give a plethora of information. When we are reporting from around the grounds on Soccer Saturday it is easy to get bogged down in a mass of information available to you. Reporting is very different to commentating, commentators are a different breed. They will spend two solid days researching a game and having to hand at least three or four points per player in a matchday squad and a wad of information on each team too. When you’re commentating for a whole game you need every bit of information but it’s different when carrying out 20-second reports. You have to prepare but it’s a different process. 

In my first post, I talked about the challenge of connectivity within the stadium and getting access to the data you need is a massive part of the use case on why we need this.  

I use a variety of websites to cross-reference statistics because every now and then you’ll find a disparity, cue much debate in the press room about which one is correct. I’m really laid back about sharing information and changes to a team, some people are more protective but I don’t see how that helps anyone. You’re all trying to inform your viewer as best as you can. We also get sent a statistics sheet on our game by Trev the stats man for Soccer Saturday. He is amazing! He is the man in Jeff’s ear helping him with added information during the program, Jeff is a genius in making it all seem so seamless while he has four or five people in his ear! 

You may think we have a warning before we go on but it’s a bit more complex than that. If it is just a general update usually we are told to standby by our producer. That can be for two seconds to two minutes it depends on what is happening elsewhere. It’s a bit tricky as you have to be looking down the camera ready to go but also have an awareness of the game, many a time a goal is scored while you are standing by! Sometimes we have little monitors under the camera but they are very small and we do not have replays. You only get replays in the Premier League and most of the time those games are done by the studio panel. I think people may assume we have replays and access to watch and identify a player again but it’s just what your eyes see and trying to relay that as eloquently and accurately as possible all on one take. I usually scribble down the goal scorer and the assist provider but I don’t look down at my notes unless I suddenly forget! When you rarely have replays it’s easy to forget they’re available, it’s a luxury! 

I split my page in two with the home team on the left. At the top I have around five statistics for each team, sometimes Jeff uses them before he comes to you but if you have time there is a chance to drop one in if it’s relevant to how the game is developing. On the team sheet, I write down goals scored by each player and if I have time I relay that in my report too if it seems important. 

When you’re told to keep it short I try and give a picture of the game briefly and describe whatever the incident is. If you don’t say how the game is going there’s no context. I rarely use my phone during the game but I will check possession statistics at half time just to make sure I am not seeing something completely different! 

So, the correct interpretation of your data is crucial to the success of delivery. Overall if you don’t get bogged down into much trivia or numbers it’s relatively simple. It’s easy to overcomplicate and try and show you have a wide knowledge, but I think you get found out if you don’t know the game. It’s pretty easy, prepare well and if you love football you love this job. For me, it’s the best job in the world! 

 

You can follow Michelle on Twitter here https://twitter.com/MichelleOwen7

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