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TO the armchair football fan, a televised match seems pretty straightforward.
For the scores of technical workers who pull the strings and prepare to broadcast to millions across the globe, it is a different ball game.
The Argus was given behind-the-scenes access to BT Sport’s coverage of the Albion v Crystal Palace match on Monday night, meeting the broadcaster’s chiefs and star-studded lineup.
Our sneak peek began with a tour around the fleet of television trucks parked next to the Amex stadium. This, as they say in the world of TV, is where the magic happens.
But this wasn’t the beginning. Not long after their last game, Norwich v Chelsea, the crew hit the road, making the three-hour trip down to Brighton to ensure everything was in place for the Cup clash.
David Moss, executive producer for Monday night’s match, called the technical staff the “unsung heroes” of matchday operations.
We were given was a glimpse in the outside broadcasting truck, where the team is in control of an array of different camera angles around the ground, from pitch side to more elaborated aerial views.
Then we were shown into the matchday world of former Premier League referee Graham Poll, who works as a pundit for BT Sport.
He was given his own truck for the night as history was made with the first-ever VAR (video assistant referee) in English domestic football.
For an evening kick-off as the Albion v Palace match was, the stars of the show arrive at the stadium in the afternoon, and begin the warm up from 5pm.
While we were being given the grand tour, Jake Humphrey and co were tucked away in a luxury trailer placed among the herd of production trucks.
Rehearsals for Rio Ferdinand and former Chelsea defender Dennis Wise, who were drawing the teams for the FA Cup fourth round, began at 5pm.
Ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was also at the Amex to give his verdict on Albion’s 2-1 win over rivals Crystal Palace.
After practice, it is on to the real thing in front of the cameras at 7pm.
For the pro footballers it may not be as physically strenuous as playing a 90 minute Premier League match, but mentally they still need to be on top of their game.
Granted, they may be the faces of BT Sport, but it’s the rest of the squad who really do control the game and make things tick.
The staggering efficiency of the team is clear, from the trucks through to the studios. Immediately after the fourth round draw, it was as if the stars had never been there.
Some 150 million watched that draw, but moments after the final ball was drawn out of the hat, it’s time to break down the set and start again.
Watching BT Sport’s gems on show live was also an art in itself. As cliche as it sounds, these highly talented individuals are normal, everyday people off camera.
Wise and Humphrey interacted with the studio audience but as soon as producer calls action, it’s back to the serious business of broadcast.
So next time you put your feet up and settled down for a live match from the comfort of your home, remember it’s a team game, both on and off the pitch.
And it’s not just those in the spotlight who put in the hard graft. Spare a thought for those behind the camera, without them, you’d have nothing to watch at all.
l BT Sport is where the best in sport go head to head, bringing you live coverage of the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and Emirates FA Cup. For more information, visit www.bt.com/sport.
Source: The Argus