Q&A: Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling on football, pubs and punditry

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

Jeff Stelling is on the hunt for fans with great football knowledge
Jeff Stelling is on the hunt for fans with great football knowledge

Related tags Premier league

The PMA caught up with Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, who has teamed up with Carlsberg UK in a quest to find ‘The People’s Pundit’, for a quick chat about all things football.

People's Pundit heats have been held in pubs across the country with the aim of finding fans that can talk about the beautiful game, with the eventual winner becoming part of broadcaster Talksport’s on-air team for the last day of the Premier League season.

What’s the quality of amateur punditry been like?

Every football fan has got an opinion on the game and most are valid. They may not be opinions that everyone agrees with, but that’s the art of being a pundit – sometimes you need to go out on a limb. The standard has been excellent and contestants have articulated their views really well. We’ve had a mix of controversial and funny competitors.

How important is punditry and analysis when it comes to football?

People watch the football to see the action but the analysis and insight enhances the experience for the viewer. Some current pundits have taken it to a new level – Gary Neville on Sky Sports has been exceptional and others have been good. It does enhance the experience and show viewers things they may have missed the significance of.

Lots of ex-players are pundits – why are more fans not involved?

That’s what we’re trying to do with this competition – get a fan involved with Talksport’s coverage of the last day of the Premier League season. It is hard for regular fans to become involved, so it will be interesting to hear the reactions when people do hear the views of a fan. I hope they will appreciate the effort and his opinions.

One of the most frustrating things in my experience is when some ex-players say ‘what do you know, you never played the game’. But I’ve watched it for 40 years so have picked up a bit of knowledge!

Is the pub still the home of watching and talking about live sport?

No question about it. If you can’t be at the game then you want to be in the pub with your mates and enjoy the atmosphere. A couple of beers, some banter, a nice big screen – it doesn’t get much better. So people do recognise the value of watching in pubs as it’s not something you can recreate at home.

Soccer Saturday – is it as much fun as it looks?

It’s the best job in the world – talking about football with your mates and getting paid for it! We all get on well and there is great chemistry between us. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and Saturdays are the highlight of my week.


Turning to the Premier League, Chelsea look like they will be champions – but what about the battle for the Top 4?

The teams still all have to play each other so will be taking points off each other. It’s great for the league and for pubs that those Champions League places have been so competitive as it keeps people interested. But the Top 4 looks beyond Liverpool and Tottenham now.

What about the relegation dogfight?

It’s a proper dogfight covering the bottom six. The level of performance some of the teams like Leicester have put in really means they should be a mid-table side but they cannot get the breaks and can’t keep clean sheets, which is a pretty fatal cocktail when it comes to being in a relegation battle. But if those teams down the bottom put a couple of wins together there is still time to scramble out. My picks to go down are Leicester, QPR and Sunderland.

Who is your player of the year?

It’s tough to call. Harry Kane has been sensational but the winner normally comes from a team that finishes at the top. Earlier in the season I would have said John Terry but I think it will be Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

What about manager of the year?

If Burnley do stay up then it has to be their manager Sean Dyche – it would be a remarkable achievement for them. Although I should say if my team Hartlepool stay in the football league then it should be Ronnie Moore!

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