New football season

Rachel Riley on pubs: 'I quite like an Aperol spritz and a shepherd's pie'

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

New pairing: Friday Night Football hosts
New pairing: Friday Night Football hosts

Related tags: Premier league, Manchester united f.c.

Jeff Stelling and co-presenter of Countdown, Rachel Riley, have been confirmed as presenters for the 10 Premier League football matches Sky Sports will be showing this season. The first Friday night match, Manchester United v Southampton, takes place this Friday and the presenting duo sat down with The Morning Advertiser to tell us what to expect from the brand new show.

"Friday night is the perfect time. It's been a long time coming," Stelling says of the first match. Prior to this Friday's match-up at Old Trafford, the only ever Friday night match took place because the Aston Villa v Manchester United fixture last season had to be rescheduled due to a freak combination of police shortages and fixture congestion.

However, from now onwards, football on a Friday night will prove to be a regular thing, with 10 games scheduled for the slot every season from now until the 2018-19 season.

Stelling thinks that while the on-trade very rarely has problems bringing in customers on a Friday night, choosing to show the Premier League football won't do any harm to business. "Hopefully for the licensed trade, it will mean a lot of people come through the doors to watch. I can't think of a better way to start a weekend than watching a Premier League match in a pub," he says.

Lighter style of show

The format of the show will be slightly different from Sky's other football coverage, with parts of the show having a slightly lighter touch than the analysis-heavy format of Monday Night Football. Riley, a lifelong Manchester United fan, says: "The aim is to make it a bit lighter with a bit more entertainment."

Confirmed Friday night matches

Manchester United v Southampton (19 August, 8pm) - Sky Sports

Chelsea v Liverpool (16 September, 8pm) - Sky Sports

Everton v Crystal Palace (30 September, 8pm) - Sky Sports

"It's a Friday night and people will have had a long, hard week and want to have a nice glass of wine and watch some football. Hopefully the programme will reflect that," she adds.

That means that as well as the usual Sky pundits, guests on the show will be football fans from the world of entertainment and other sports. 

"It's getting that balance," says Stelling. "If you're a football fan, you take your football seriously, but I know from a Soccer Saturday​ perspective that football is a form of entertainment, so hopefully it will be entertaining and it will be fast-moving but, at the end of the day, the product is the game. It will have a bit of everything."

Having a bit of everything is something that can be said for Riley's preferred choice of food and drink of choice in the pub. "I quite like an Aperol spritz and a shepherd’s pie actually," Riley laughs when asked what she likes to drink in the pub.

"If you can't be at the game, it's the next best thing"

Presenting the show means that Riley and Stelling will not be able to enjoy curious food and drink pairings or the pub atmosphere on a Friday night, but they reminisced about the atmosphere in the pub throughout the most memorable matches they both watched in the pub - both 4-3 thrillers.

"I watched the [Manchester] United 4 [Manchester] City 3, when Owen came on and scored the winner, at a pub in Spitalfields, east London. That game was brilliant and when you're watching it with other people, there's always more atmosphere," Riley says.

Stelling's overriding memory in the pub was Liverpool's 4-3 triumph over Newcastle in 1996 when Stan Collymore scored the winning goal for the Reds. "The atmosphere was unbelievable," he says. "If you can't be at the game, it's the next best thing." 

Related topics: Sport

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