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Match of the Day

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Match of the Day
Match of the Day.png
Format Sports highlights
Presented by Gary Lineker
Country of origin United Kingdom
Running time Varies
Original channel BBC One
Original run 22 August 1964 (1964-08-22) – present
Related shows Grandstand
Match of the Day 2
Football Focus
Final Score
The Football League Show
Match of the Day Kickabout
External links

Match of the Day (often abbreviated as MOTD or MotD) is the BBC's main football television programme. Typically, it is shown on BBC One on Saturday evenings during the English football season, showing highlights of the day's matches in English football's top division, the Premier League. It is one of the BBC's longest-running shows, having been on air since 22 August 1964, though it has not always been aired regularly. The programme is broadcast from MediaCityUK in Salford Quays on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Greater Manchester.

MOTD is presented by former England captain Gary Lineker, who is usually joined by England teammate and former Newcastle United captain Alan Shearer and Liverpool and Scotland defender Alan Hansen as well as Mark Lawrenson. Over the years many famous and respected sports broadcasters have fine-tuned their skills on the programme, including Kenneth Wolstenholme, David Coleman, Barry Davies, John Motson, Jimmy Hill, Brian Clough and Des Lynam.


The first edition of Match of the Day was screened on BBC2 at 6:30pm on 22 August 1964. BBC2 had been launched in April that year with Michael Peacock as controller (Sir David Attenborough took over in spring 1965) but the programme's primary purpose was to train up BBC cameramen and technicians so that the BBC could fulfil its duties as host broadcaster to cover every match at the forthcoming 1966 World Cup in England.

The first edition showed only one match; highlights of the First Division game between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield; Liverpool won 3-2. As seen in Liverpool's "100 Greatest Moments of the Kop" film, footage of a pitch invasion was caught by the MOTD cameras.

As BBC2 was available only in the London area at the time, the programme's audience was estimated at only 20,000; less than half of the attendance at Anfield stadium. However this soon expanded; on 3 December new transmitters were opened in the Midlands and the number of people with access increased to over two million.

The BBC had been showing live games before Match of the Day, the first being an FA Cup semi-final game between Fulham and Manchester United in 1958. Although Match of the Day primarily screened First Division matches, under the BBC's initial contract with The Football League, they had to screen three Second Division games per season as well. The following year it also extended its coverage to Third Division matches and started showing highlights of FA Cup matches. Additionally, in its inaugural season, Match of the Day screened a Fourth Division match between Oxford United and Tranmere Rovers, though it would not do so again until 1978.

Match of the Day was not universally welcomed in the football world; in 1965 several clubs attempted to block a renewed deal with the BBC in fear of a drop in gate attendances at matches. Eventually a compromise was reached where the BBC agreed not to reveal which match was to be shown until after the day's play had concluded, an arrangement that remained until 1983. The show moved to BBC1 the same year, though occasionally in later years highlights of FA Cup matches were screened on BBC2. The first colour edition of Match of the Day was shown on 15 November 1969, between Liverpool and West Ham United.

By then, Match of the Day was not the only football highlights programme on English television; the BBC faced competition from 1968 as ITV started to show highlights on a regional basis on Sunday afternoons; London Weekend Television's The Big Match, which later became the programme for the entire ITV network, was first broadcast in 1968. Match of the Day responded by increasing the number of matches to two per programe .

1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s, Match of the Day became one of the BBC's most successful programmes, with audiences peaking at over 12 million. The " Goal of the Month" and " Goal of the Season" competitions were introduced in 1970; slow motion replays followed a year later. However, at the end of the decade the BBC lost a significant share of matches, with a new four-year deal in 1979 splitting the rights between the BBC and ITV (ITV had originally won exclusive rights, but a ruling from the Office of Fair Trading ordered that the rights be split). Match of the Day was moved to Sunday afternoons for the 1980-81 and 1982-83 seasons, but as consolation the number of games per programme went up to three.

In 1983, the rights came up for renewal again; once again the BBC had to share with ITV. For the first time, league games were shown live, on Friday evenings. Additionally, programmes reverted to Saturday nights and shirt sponsorship was allowed for the first time on the non-commercial BBC. Industrial action by BBC staff hampered coverage that season, but the first live league match shown on Match of the Day was on Friday 16 December 1983, with a Manchester United 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

As the 1980s progressed, Match of the Day focused more and more on the First Division. The final Fourth Division game to be on the programme, between Blackpool and York City, was shown on 4 February 1984. Coverage of the Second and Third Divisions dwindled until it was finally dropped in 1986. However, other competitions were shown; the League Cup Final was covered live for the first time by the BBC in 1985.

In 1985, the rights for League football came up again, but an ongoing wrangle between the TV companies, Football League's TV Negotiating Committee and a rebel group of clubs led by Oxford United chairman Robert Maxwell meant the first half of the 1985-86 season was not televised at all; some clubs even tried negotiating individually with their local BBC and ITV regions. Eventually, in December 1985, a deal was agreed and Match of the Day resumed for the second half of the season.

After the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, the BBC and ITV signed a new deal which left screening of highlights at the broadcaster's discretion; the BBC decided to suspend the regular weekly highlights apart from a couple of FA Cup Saturdays, instead showing basketball highlights in its slot. However, in the following season highlights of league football were reintroduced, though this was only occasional and not as often as before as the main focus was still on live games and the top teams.

In 1988, an even more competitive scramble for TV rights meant that the BBC lost all rights for League football to ITV, although they retained rights for FA Cup and England matches, shared with satellite channel The Sports Channel, who were part of the BSB network. For the next four seasons, Match of the Day only appeared on FA Cup weekends. However, ITV's negotiating stance and poor quality match coverage proved unpopular with the clubs.

1990s and 2000s

With the breakaway of the top clubs in England to form the Premier League in 1992, the BBC regained highlights of matches (though Sky gained exclusive live rights), and regular Match of the Day programming resumed with highlights of three main games and for the first time all the goals from the other games played that day. Sky's emergence made the TV rights market more competitive, with the BBC losing European Cup matches after UEFA's revamping as the Champions League in 1993. In 1997, the BBC lost all live rights to the FA Cup meaning Match of the Day's live coverage was restricted to UEFA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup matches. However the BBC were still able to show Saturday evening highlights of FA Cup games. However things got much worse for the network when, in 2001, the Premier League awarded highlights rights to ITV in a three-year contract.

Match of the Day did not totally disappear; the same year the BBC regained full live coverage of the FA Cup and England's World Cup qualifying matches, as well as retaining UEFA Cup coverage. ITV's league highlights programme, The Premiership, fared poorly and, in 2004, Premier League highlights returned to the BBC with an innovative new deal. MOTD would show highlights of all the Premier League games played on a Saturday, with commentators at every ground. A sister programme, Match of the Day 2 was launched on BBC2 on Sunday nights to cover the increasing number of Sunday fixtures in the Premier League. This show was closer in style to the old style Match of the Day, as typically only two or three games are played. The BBC has twice since renewed its Premier League rights with MOTD streamed live on the BBC website. As it only covers PL games the title MotD could now be seen as irrelevant, but such is the history of the programme that the title has remained.

Traditionally, midweek BBC football shows were included under the Sportsnight banner, particularly highlights from matches on Wednesday night. However, as the 1990s progressed the vast majority of football coverage was shown on Match of the Day, a situation that increased further when Sportsnight was cancelled in 1997. Match of the Day currently airs on any weeknight in which at least six matches are scheduled (including a two night period with as many matches) or if the BBC negotiates special dispensation with the Premier League for a key game.

ITV regained live FA Cup and England matches from 2008, meaning there was very limited live football on the BBC in the 2008/09 season. From the 2009/10 season, the BBC picked up 10 live Championship games a season, as well as the League Cup Semi-Finals and Final, as part of a deal with the Football League that allowed it to show Football League highlights in a separate programme after Match of the Day.

In 2005–06, a Save of the Season competition was introduced (in addition to the traditional Goal of the Month and Season contests) with the inaugural winner being Tomasz Kuszczak, then of West Bromwich Albion. In 2006-07, Jussi Jääskeläinen of Bolton Wanderers won the award.


From the 2011-12 season a new web-only Match of the Day 3 programme was launched on Monday mornings as a light-hearted addition to Match of the Day 2. Although broadcast as a separate programme and with its own unique title, it is recorded immediately following the conclusion of Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night. In November 2011 the program moved to Salford from London to a brand new studio as part of the BBC's relocation north. At the Start of 2012-13 season Match of the Day 2 moved to BBC One.

Presenters and commentators

Match of the Day's first match was presented by Kenneth Wolstenholme, who also commentated alongside Walley Barnes. By 1970 David Coleman had established himself as the programme's main anchorman. Jimmy Hill then took over the role in 1973 after moving from ITV, although Coleman continued to feature as a commentator. One of the programme's most famous presenters, Des Lynam, joined in 1979 as a commentator before taking over from Hill in 1988, although Hill was retained as a pundit.

Current presenter, former England captain Gary Lineker, joined as a pundit in 1995 before becoming the main presenter after Lynam's departure in 1999. Ray Stubbs was a stand-in presenter on the programme for 17 seasons, from the start of the Premier League in 1992 until he left the BBC in 2009. Other stand-in hosts have included Gabby Logan, Mark Pougatch, Mark Chapman, Dan Walker, Celina Hinchcliffe, the show's first female presenter and Jake Humphrey became the youngest presenter of the show and now is the F1 Main Presenter but features heavily on football coverage .

Currently Lineker is typically joined by two pundits for highlights shows. Since 2007, the weekly Saturday edition of MOTD has used any pairing of Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, and Alan Shearer in rotation. Match of the Day 2, aired on Sundays, is presented by Colin Murray and features either two or three pundits. Hansen, Shearer, Lawrenson Martin Keown, and Robbie Savage are the most regular pundits, although current or former players and managers also contribute. Comedian Kevin Day provides supporters-led reportage at a particular match each weekend.

The main commentators are Jonathan Pearce, Steve Wilson, Guy Mowbray and Simon Brotherton. The longest-running commentator is John Motson, who made his first appearance on 9 October 1971. He continues to feature on the programme, although is no longer the BBC's principal commentator for live matches, having retired from live coverage after Euro 2008. Other freelance commentators used include: Tony Gubba, John Roder, Dan O'Hagan, Martin Fisher, Ian Gwyn Hughes, Steve Bower, Alistair Mann, Louis Browne, Russell Vernon, Roger Johnson and Paul Mitchell. In April 2007, Jacqui Oatley became the first woman to commentate on the programme. For live matches the commentator will be joined by a co-commentator, usually Lawrenson, Keown, Mark Bright, or Iain Dowie.

Previous commentators include: Barry Davies who featured between 1969 and 2004, Stuart Hall, Alan Weeks, Alan Parry, Gerald Sinstadt, Idwal Robling, Harry Carpenter, Clive Tyldesley and Jon Champion.

Occasionally, guests have been known to take part in the show. On the final day of the 1993/94 season, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel were present as studio pundits, offering a somewhat lighthearted slant on the role. In February 2010, Croatia manager Slaven Bilić made a guest appearance on the show, on a weekend when many Croatian players were in action for their clubs. In the 2012/13 season Michael Owen and Vincent Kompany featured as guest pundits.


The show has been criticised by some elements of the English media and by players for its bland and boring content. Notable players and former players, such as Rio Ferdinand and Stan Collymore, have described the show as "boring" and as a "dinosaur" with Collymore also questioning the quality of the pundits' analysis. Further criticisms aimed at MOTD are its format is tired and out of date compared to Sky's football coverage and new, more enthusiastic pundits are required with the atmosphere between the current presenter and pundits deemed "an old boy's club".

Premier League licensing

The BBC have purchased the rights to televise highlights of Premier League matches. In 2012 the BBC signed a three-year extension to their agreement which expires in 2015/16 season at a cost of £179.7m. BBC director of sport Barbara Slater said that "The new contract will see MOTD celebrate its 50th birthday".

Theme music

The current theme tune for the series is called "Match of the Day" and was written especially for the programme in 1970 by Barry Stoller, and has become so ubiquitous in British culture that it is associated not just with the programme but football in general. It is often incorrectly labelled with the title "Offside", which was actually the name of an alternative commercially-released version in 1970, which was conducted by Mike Vickers. In May 2010, PRS for Music revealed that the Match of the Day theme tune is the most recognisable in the UK. The original theme tune to Match of the Day was written by Major Leslie Statham, the band leader of the Welsh Guards, and was entitled "Drum Majorette". This remained the theme tune from 1964 until 1970 when the current tune by Barry Stoller replaced it. At the time Major Statham wrote his original works using the pen-name ' Arnold Steck'.

The theme tune appears in popular children's party song " The Music Man" by Black Lace. Genesis honoured the programme with their song "Match of the Day" in 1977, on the Spot the Pigeon EP. In some parts of the UK the Match of the Day theme is used by some ice cream vans as opposed to the usual " Greensleeves". The song is also an alternate theme song for popular CBC Sports programme " Hockey Night in Canada" since 1998.

Related shows

  • The BBC's coverage from World Cups is usually under the World Cup Match of the Day banner
  • Between 1995 and 1999, the BBC broadcast Match of the Seventies (1995–96), Match of the Eighties (1997) and Match of the Nineties (1999). Each series acted as a chronological review of seasons through each decade, presented in a slightly off-beat style, and relied heavily on footage originally included in Match of the Day broadcasts. Presenters included Dennis Waterman, Danny Baker, Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley
  • From the 2004-05 season season a second programme, Match of the Day 2, has also been aired
  • From the 2009-10 season onwards, the BBC have picked up the rights to all Football League highlights and ten live games, which have been broadcast on a new programme named The Football League Show (or, for League Cup games, The League Cup Show)

Match of the Day Annual

A Match of the Day Annual book is also produced., along with a Magazine.

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