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New presenter, more games, no more piped noise – inside Sky Sports’ EFL coverage

The broadcaster has a number of changes planned for the 2020-21 campaign, which begins with live coverage of tonight’s game between Bournemouth and West Brom

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Prutton assesses West Brom, Fulham and Sheff Utd’s chances of success

The EFL returns this weekend with all 72 clubs gearing up for another jam-packed season of thrills and spills.

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This campaign, of course, heralds the long-awaited return of supporters after 17 months of games being played almost exclusively behind-closed-doors.

It all starts with tonight’s Championship curtain-raiser between Bournemouth and West Brom.

That marks the first game this season to be screened live on Sky Sports and it is the first of a mammoth 138 live games being shown by the broadcaster throughout the season.

Sky has been the dedicated channel for the Football League ever since the collapse of ITV Digital in the early-2000s and has year-on-year increased its coverage.

Sky Sports will this season broadcast 138 EFL games

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This season will see Michelle Owen step up to take on presenting duties of live games. A regular on Soccer Saturday, she will share duties with current host David Prutton.

Upon announcing the news, she said: “Very excited to share the news that I am part of the Sky Football presenting team.

“We have some brilliant pundits and games lined up – and fantastic to have fans back too! 2021/22 let’s go!”

As well as a new host, there will also be more variation in pundits and co-commentators as former Nottingham Forest and Leeds midfielder Prutton told the Mirror : “The standards are very high and there’s a lot of broadcasters involved now but I think Sky have always been at the forefront of how it looks and how it comes across.

“We pride ourselves on having, in my opinion, the best commentators, the best pundits and a diverse range of opinions and that’s reflected us being pitchside.

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“For example, we’ve got Chris Wilder and Jobi McAnuff with us for the Bournemouth-West Brom game.”

Another huge difference to last season’s coverage will be the ability to broadcast directly from stadiums rather than an empty studio miles away.

Prutton is looking forward to that and especially the presence of fans – just so he doesn’t have to listen to the dreaded fake crowd noise again!

For the first time since March 2020, real fans will provide the background noise for games.

He added: “When you’re at a game commentating you put the headphones on and you get the augmented sound, which you obviously heard at home when there were no fans in.

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Fans are finally back inside grounds after a long absence

“It caused much hilarity when there was like a big cheer for a goal kick, the first time it was used!

“By the end, obviously it was no substitute for people actually being there, but it was better than the deathly silence.

“But the fans are why we go aren’t they? That’s what we’ve really missed.”

Those sentiments are echoed by long-serving pundit and co-commentator Don Goodman.

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He said: “Football without fans is soulless. It didn’t stop me enjoying it, because the action still threw up remarkable stories. The play-offs, especially, never let you down.

“But when fans were allowed back in for those games, my goodness, it was remarkable.

“Watching football without the fans, it’s just not the same.”

Sky’s coverage on the opening weekend of the EFL season sees Bournemouth v West Brom tonight, with Charlton v Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United v Birmingham on Saturday. The weekend is rounded off with Fulham v Middlesbrough and Coventry v Nottingham Forest on Sunday. All games are on Sky Sports Football.

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