Virgin Media Sport Host Tommy Martin Chats Ahead Of The UEFA Champions League

Tommy Martin: Virgin Media Sports Presenter

It might feel like someone’s hit the fast-forward button, but the start of the UEFA Champions League season is upon us – and we think the typical Irish summer is short! Bayern Munich will look to defend their title in what promises to be a season full of drama, and you’ll catch every single minute of it on Virgin Media Sport, Virgin TV 400!


To get in the mood, there was only one man to talk to; the man who’s there for every big moment of the season, Tommy Martin. He’ll be right there in studio throughout the year ahead – but first, we pinned him down for a chat in PLAY Magazine, to give us the view from the presenter’s chair...


It’s a cliché – but do you reckon you have the best seat in the house?


I would have to say so – it’s a situation where you have to remind yourself that you’re actually at work! Like everyone involved in sport, I grew up watching games in the sitting room; to have that as a job, you feel pretty lucky. The best part about it is getting to watch with ex-players and coaches who are stars in their own right. You can feel like a competition winner sometimes!


So how would you describe your role?


Well it’s definitely part crowd control, haha! One moment, you’re trying to get to the ad break and make it to the match on time; the next, you’re trying to provoke the panel into being a bit unruly. You’re there to lead the discussion, so you want to talk about the game and discuss what might happen, what did happen. But it’s also about being entertaining. With so much analysis and data these days, some people forget that it’s all entertainment at the end of the day. So if someone’s saying something that might be worth pursuing, the plan can be thrown out the window!


You must learn a lot working with the likes of Graeme Souness and Brian Kerr?


A huge amount! When Brian started working with us I knew him from his coaching roles, but the amount of knowledge that he has is amazing. Some people have a laptop full of spreadsheets, but he’s got a passion and enthusiasm for the game that goes beyond anything; he’d watch under-11s play in the park the same as he’d watch the UEFA Champions League. And with Graeme, you’re talking about a guy who’s won three European Cups. Whatever people might say about him, you have to listen to him; he’s been there and done that, and understands what it takes to win on these big nights.


We’re guessing there’s a lot going on off-camera too?


Absolutely. You have no idea, until you look under the bonnet, how much it takes for everything to work. The broadcast is the result of a huge team behind the scenes adding things together. From research, to video clips, to interesting stats, it all adds up – and that’s without mentioning that the main event is the two teams playing football!


And what are the panel like when the cameras aren’t rolling?


Like everyone who’s on TV, on camera they’re themselves – but a more refined version. Off-camera, the language gets a bit saltier, and there’s some stories shared that you couldn’t really put on air. That’s especially the case when ex-players get together; it’s like being at the hairdressers with the amount of gossiping going on! The best nights are when the matches are so compelling that even these veterans of the game are on the edge of their seats; when what’s happening on the field is blowing them away and the viewers can see their enthusiasm.


The last-minute winners must create some unique situations, though?


It’s really weird, especially for me – as soon as the final whistle goes, I have to be in some sort of control again! But you still want to convey the excitement; nobody would like it if the panel wasn’t reflecting the mood. While you’re maintaining your professionalism at some level – just so you’re not lying on the floor in disbelief! – you’re also making it clear that we enjoyed it just as much as the viewers did. When there’s a last minute winner, the little kid comes out in the panellists as well; that’s something that’s a lot of fun to be a part of.


You’ll catch every game of the UEFA Champions League on Virgin Media Sports – click here to find out more!