Matt Smith will be the face of the German Masters for Eurosport’s UK viewers, as the issue of who leads the snooker coverage for the broadcaster continues to throw up some difficulties.
Three presenters (at least), and for any given tournament where there is a studio presence, one job. See the problem?
Smith is a good professional, recognisable to many for his work on ITV primarily on football where he has hosted Champions League highlights, Uefa Cup live coverage, and Championship highlights.
He also has World Cups, European Championships and England football internationals on his CV, along with darts and IPL cricket.
And he possesses experience of snooker with ITV (including the ill-fated Power Snooker, a concept with which Clive Everton’s renowned commentary and gravitas sat somewhat uneasily).
But back home in Blighty will be the No1 pick of the recent past Colin Murray, one of two contracted talkSPORT radio presenters Eurosport have used for their snooker output, with the other being Andy Goldstein.
Eurosport’s decision to ramp things up and have a studio in Berlin’s Tempodrom last year was widely praised and considered a success, with Murray presenting and punditry from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.
The excitable Murray may not be everyone’s cup of tea, arguably falling in to the ‘Marmite’ category, but without question he introduced a passion, freshness and dynamism to the coverage that attracted and kept new viewers.
The ‘dream team’ of Murray, O’Sullivan and White then went to do it all again over the much longer and more demanding period of nine days on the sofa for the UK Championship, based in Feltham for the York tournament. Did this lengthy stint diminish Murray's appetite for the gig? Eurosport were quick to scotch any such suggestion.
Goldstein is understood to have been the original first choice for Berlin last year but for good reasons was unavailable, opening the door for Murray who then went on to leapfrog his rival in the pecking order. It is dog eat dog out there in TV world...
But both hold radio deals with talkSPORT placing big demands on their time, that is their bread and butter and main livelihood, around which they book other things. Eurosport, now of course with Discovery money behind them, are as accommodating as they can be but Smith will be seen as third choice this week.
Murray, who has even taken holiday to fulfil the gigs in the past, was either unwilling or unable to do that this time with in addition another commitment, while Goldstein, who has done the same with holiday in the past for snooker, also had duties from which he was unable to escape.
Both genuinely like the game, and Goldstein has probably given the sport more radio air time than virtually any presenter in recent memory. He has also done a lot of work on The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show, Eurosport’s vehicle for the five-time world champion.
Yes, some of these studio exchanges can be a little short on rigorous questioning, and the regularly employed faux-matiness is occasionally cloying, but both of these men promote snooker in invaluable fashion at a time when other strands of the media are not doing that.
As Eurosport go from strength to strength, become ever more slick and professional and their commitment to snooker appears to grow stronger and not weaker, these availability issues will no doubt soon be further discussed.
Either the presenting role is rotated around as now, or something may have to give to have a permanent No1 in place. But for this week, Smith it is, ably assisted by White and Foulds, with Neil Robertson and O’Sullivan also jetting in to sprinkle some stardust in the studio.