Niall Quinn tells UCFB students: ‘Technology allows pundits to give audience a learning experience’
As a player, manager and chairman, to call Niall Quinn a seasoned veteran of the game would be an understatement. Between the start of his playing days at Arsenal in 1983 to his current role as a co-commentator and pundit at Sky, among many others, the former Republic of Ireland international has observed a shift in the landscape of how football is consumed by its audience.
During a talk with students at UCFB Wembley, Quinn had a lot to say on the football broadcasting landscape which has been revolutionised over the last two decades by Sky in particular.
Quinn said: “Over the last few years I’ve been at Sky there has been an evolution. There is a demand out there from the customer who has paid their money for this offering: ‘I want total analysis’.”
Luckily, Quinn has a 23-year playing career to lean on when it comes to offering his perspective on games. The former Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland striker added: “My experiences on the pitch generally helped me get most decisions pretty spot on at the top. However, I’ve got some wrong; everybody does.”
Showing his dedication to the cause, Quinn detailed a unique match day routine that helps him absorb relevant information before a game. “I used to turn up, they’d shake hands with me, I’d have a cup of coffee then on you go and we’d play the game,” he said. “Now, I go into the press room at the ground an hour before the game, cocoon myself into a corner and I have my six points I have to get out at some point in the day about both teams.”
He went on to recall examples of the legendary Nottingham Forest and Derby County manager Brian Clough, and how such an outlandish approach to analysis is rare in today’s market. “Clough, in my opinion, was the best pundit even though he was still a manager at the time,” Quinn said. “I was influenced so much at that time watching the likes of him. I see where it’s gone and obviously I joined in when my career finished in 2003.”
Quinn, who is one of only a few in the game to have held the post of player, manager and chairman at the same club, having done so for Sunderland, went on to give students valuable advice on how to conduct themselves within the football-media world.
He said: “I’ll have a go when a player is out of order, and I’ll hang back and bring something that’s milder in many respects. But it’s nothing without the technology that’s booming all around it.”
Despite the statistical focus of shows such as Monday Night Football, Quinn sticks to the principle that his job is to provide a learning experience.
He finished: “I must feel that I have taught somebody out there. Hopefully with a lot of people I have taught them something about the game that they wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t there. That’s what I work on.”
Words: Max Carlyle