Clive Tyldesley replaced too soon as ITV’s main football commentator

Ollie Irish

14th, July 2020


Not for me, Clive

Clive Tyldesley is being stood down as ITV’s main voice of football, after 22 years in the role, although he will continue to work for them at major tournaments. Director of ITV Sport Niall Sloane said: “On behalf of ITV Sport, I would like to thank Clive for his superb work leading our commentary on some of the biggest occasions in world football throughout his outstanding career with us.”

I worked for ITV Sport for several years. My path occasionally crossed with Clive, although I very much doubt he would know who I am. We did the (defunct) ITV Football podcast together a few times. He’s a generous man, rosy-cheeked at 65 but with a sharp wit (you should check out his Instagram, seriously – he’s very good at it. His Jack Charlton tribute was wonderful). Above all, he loves what he does – he genuinely respects the role of football commentator, which shines through in his work. He realised early on in his career, you can take something seriously and also have fun with it.

Yes, there is a very faint whiff of Alan Partridge about Clive (you could say that about almost every white, male English broadcaster). Before I worked for ITV, I interviewed him over the phone for The Observer. This would have been almost 20 years ago, mind. As he answered my call, he revealed he was on his Bluetooth headset walking into a car dealership. If memory serves, it was an Audi dealership. Classic Clive, classic Alan.

Now I don’t know the reason why Tyldesley is being moved aside for Sam Matterface, but it feels too soon. Clive hasn’t lost a step, as John Motson had by the end (I would take Clive or Barry Davies over Motty in a second). Martin Tyler is 74, ffs, and he’s still on the mic (a shame – Tyler used to be great but doesn’t have it now). Football won’t be the same with less Tyldesley. If you think of big European nights for English clubs, you hear his voice.

Clive’s finest hour, very much so:

Chills, and I’m not a United fan. “Can Manchester United score? They always score…” is one of the great lines of commentary in English football history, and for many it would be the number one. Is Sam Matterface – who is just fine most of the time – capable of reaching the promised land? We’ll see.

UPDATE: Clive has responded to the news on Twitter:

A measured, dignified response, as you’d expect. The only reason I can think of for ITV’s decision is Clive’s age, but as I said above, he’s not lost a step.