Des Lynam has openly questioned ITV Sport’s appointment of Adrian Chiles as the channel’s lead presenter ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.
In his sport on TV column in the Daily Telegraph, Lynam, the former Grandstand and Match of the Day frontman who was noted for his relaxed, loquacious style, sympathised with Matt Smith, who presented ITV’s coverage of the FA Cup final and Champions League final, for not having the “luck” required to get the break for his employers to select him as their No1 presenter. That job has gone to Chiles.
“Is Chiles a better football host than Smith?” Lynam wrote. “Will he put an extra viewer on the sofa when it comes to an England game in the World Cup?”
Apart from some occasional radio work, Lynam ended his sports broadcasting career at ITV, retiring after the European football championships in 2004, following his controversial switch from the BBC five years earlier. At the BBC, Lynam had fronted coverage of five World Cups.
Chiles, like Lynam, was controversially lured from the BBC. Chiles’s arrival precipitated the departure of Lynam’s successor at both channels, Steve Rider. Next month, Chiles will become ITV’s seventh different lead presenter of its World Cup coverage.
Chiles, the former One Show, Apprentice: You’re Fired! and MOTD2 presenter, made his ITV debut on Monday for England’s World Cup warm-up game at Wembley against Mexico, appearing atypically wearing a shirt and tie. But in a departure for most ITV sports coverage, on camera he also read from a book (albeit Jamie Carragher’s autobiography). The coverage attracted 8.64 million viewers, or 37.1 per cent of the audience.
Lynam wrote: “Chiles will attract many and alienate others and viewers will watch the World Cup not necessarily because of him and sometimes despite him but, while others can do the job in a perfectly reasonable fashion, Chiles will do it in a less predictable way.
“I understand why ITV have signed him. He’s a bit like the right-footed winger who plays on the left, more difficult to read and thus more interesting.”
Lynam also made the point in his Telegraph piece that a presenter’s task is aided by decent sport, and also by having strong panellists. ITV’s football pundits working with Chiles include Andy Townsend.
“To do well in sports broadcasting you need a modicum of talent but mostly you need luck. ITV’s Matt Smith has the former but is about to run out of the latter,” Lynam wrote.
On Chiles, Lynam said, “In his first ITV broadcast on Monday he showed that his conversational style would get the very best out of his pundits. Chiles is unlikely to fall into the trap of becoming a pseudo-expert.”