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. Match of the Day has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the longest-running football TV programme in the world. The programme is broadcast from MediaCityUK in Salford Quays on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Greater Manchester.

Since 1999 MOTD has been presented by the former England captain Gary Lineker. Lineker is usually joined by two pundits to analyse and review the day's action. Former Newcastle United captain Alan Shearer is the lead pundit. Over the years many famous former footballers such as Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen, and respected sports broadcasters, such as Kenneth WolstenholmeDavid ColemanBarry DaviesJohn Motson,Jimmy Hill and Des Lynam, have fine-tuned their skills on the programme.



Although the title was first used by the BBC for its Wimbledon tennis highlights programme in June 1964, the first football-related edition of Match of the Day was screened on BBC2 on 22 August 1964, and showed highlights of a game between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. The programme's audience was estimated at only 20,000, less than half of the attendance at the ground.[3]

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 Divisiongames 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.[citation needed]

Match of the Day was not universally welcomed in the football world; in 1965 several clubs attempted to block a renewedDEAL with the BBC in fear of a drop in gate attendances at matches.[4] 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. The first colour edition of Match of the Day was shown on 15 November 1969, between Liverpooland West Ham United.[4][5]

1970s and 1980sEdit

Slow motion replays were first introduced in 1971.[3] However, at the end of the decade the BBC lost a significant share of matches, with a new four-yearDEAL 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[5]). Match of the Day was moved to Sunday afternoons for the 1980–81 and 1982–83 seasons.[6]

In 1983, the programme reverted to being shown on Saturday night, although that year four broadcasts were lost due to industrial action.[3] The season 1983–84 also saw the first Match of the Day Live broadcasts of First Division matches, beginning with Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur on 16 December – a Friday evening fixture. (This came some two months after the start of ITV's Big Match Live.)

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.[citation needed]

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 BSB. For the next four seasons, Match of the Day only appeared on FA Cup weekends.[citation needed]

On Saturday 15 April 1989, presenters Des LynamJimmy Hill and commentator John Motson were present atHillsborough Stadium in Sheffield for the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when 94 Liverpool fans lost their lives on the day (two more died in the following years, bringing the total to 96) in acrush at the Leppings Lane end of the ground which resulted in the match being abandoned after just six minutes. That night, on their return to the studio, the programme was devoted to the tragic events of the afternoon. The highlights of the other semi-final between Everton and Norwich City were never shown although the footage is kept in the BBC Archive.[citation needed]

1990s and 2000sEdit

League football highlights were not available to the BBC for a few years but MOTD returned in 1992, for the start of the Premier League era.[4] 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.[7] 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.[8]

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 newDEALMOTD would show highlights of all the Premier League games played on a Saturday, with commentators at every ground.[9] In addition, Match of the Day 2 was launched, which showed highlights of all the Sunday fixtures, and was presented by Adrian Chiles.[4]

In 2009 the BBC announced they had retained their Premier League rights, allowing them to continue showing Match of the Day.[10]


Gary Lineker on the current set of Match of the Day.

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.[1] At the start of 2012–13 season Match of the Day 2 moved to BBC One.[11]

Presenters and commentatorsEdit

In 1973 Jimmy Hill took over as presenter after moving from ITV. Des Lynam later became the host.[2][3]

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 the deputy presenter of the programme for 17 seasons, from 1992 to 2009. Current stand in hosts include Gabby LoganDan Walker, and Mark Chapman.[2]

Typically, Lineker is joined by two pundits for the show. Alan Shearer is the lead pundit and is used alongside Danny MurphyMartin KeownPhil Neville,Kevin KilbaneRuud Gullit or Robbie SavageMatch of the Day 2 airs on Sundays is presented by Mark Chapman.[2]

The main commentators are Guy MowbrayJonathan PearceSteve WilsonSimon Brotherton and Steve Bower. 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: Alan Green, Paul Walker, Alistair Bruce-Ball, Laurence Herdman, Nigel Adderley, John Murray, Ian Dennis, Conor McNamara, John Roder, Dan O'Hagan, Martin Fisher, Alistair Mann,Tony HusbandRoger Johnson and Paul Mitchell.[2]

In April 2007 it was announced that Jacqui Oatley was to become the first woman to commentate on the programme.[4][12]

Previous commentators include: Barry Davies who featured between 1969 and 2004, Stuart HallAlan WeeksAlan ParryGerald SinstadtIdwal Robling,Harry CarpenterClive TyldesleyJon Champion, Des Lynam (voiced some games in the early 1980s) and Tony Gubba. In August 2014, the BBC announced that as part of the shows 50th anniversary celebrations, Barry Davies would return to commentate for one last time.[2][13]

Occasionally, guests have been known to take part in the show. On the final day of the 1993–94 season, Fantasy Football League presenters Frank Skinner andDavid Baddiel were present as studio pundits, offering a somewhat lighthearted slant on the role. Russell Brand also made a guest appearance on the show during the 2013–14 season to promote Sport Relief.[2]


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".[14][15] In 2010, Wolverhampton WanderersAmerican goalkeeperMarcus Hahnemann criticised the show for showing bias towards the bigger clubs in the Premier League, particularly Manchester United.[16]

Premier League licensingEdit

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".[17] In January 2015, the BBC extended thisDEAL until the end of the 2018-19 Premier League season.[18]

Theme musicEdit

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. It has become so ubiquitous in British culture that it is associated not just with the programme but football in general.[citation needed]

Stoller's brief was simply to write "something good"; the short closing fanfare occurred to him first. "Those fanfare harmonies give the music a gladiator feel," he wrote in 2014, "akin to entering the ancient games arena in Rome with all its expectations." The tune was recorded by him, a drummer and a trumpeter in the basement recording studio of his home.[19] In May 2010 PRS for Music revealed that the Match of the Day theme tune is the most recognisable in the UK.[20]

The theme is often incorrectly labelled "Offside", the name of an alternative commercially-released 1970 version, conducted by Mike Vickers.[5] The original theme tune, entitled "Drum Majorette", was written by Major Leslie Statham, the band leader of the Welsh Guards under the pen-name 'Arnold Stock'.[21]

Related showsEdit

Match of the Day AnnualEdit

Match of the Day Annual 2015 book is also produced.[22]