Channel 4 has announced its broadcast plans for UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 as live football returns to the broadcaster for the first time in 15 years.
The tournament kicks off with the host nation The Netherlands taking on Norway on Sunday, 16 July, and Channel 4 will show every match will be shown live across its free-to-air TV and online platforms.
Clare Balding, who led Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage in 2012 and 2016, has been announced as the main anchor of its live Women’s Euros games which will be hosted from pitchside, with Kirsteen O’Sullivan also presenting selected games on More4.
Four leading names from the women’s game – Chelsea Ladies and England forward Eni Aluko, Arsenal Ladies and US international Heather O’Reilly, England’s record goal scorer Kelly Smith and Scotland star Kim Little – who agonisingly missed out on the tournament due to injury, lead Channel 4’s punditry line-up.
They will be joined by established TV pundits from the men’s game including Ian Wright, Michael Owen and Jermaine Jenas, while match commentary will be led by Steve Bower and Robyn Cowen, with Lucy Ward on co-commentary duty.
Also part of the Channel 4 presentation team will be F1 reporter Lee McKenzie and Olympic gold medallist Sam Quek, who played football for Tranmere Rovers Ladies in her youth before committing to hockey, becoming part of the victorious Great Britain hockey team at Rio 2016.
All England and Scotland matches will be broadcast live on either Channel 4 or More4, with every single match be available to watch live online via All4, which will also host a daily highlights show featuring the best of the action throughout the tournament.
England and Scotland will launch their campaigns for European glory when they go head-to-head on Wednesday, 19 July, in what will be the first televised football match on Channel 4 since the demise of its popular ‘Football Italia’ Serie A coverage in 2002.
Clare Balding will be joined pitchside for the encounter in the Netherlands by Michael Owen, former Lioness Eni Aluko, Kim Little and Heather O’Reilly, with Glasgow City FC coach Scott Booth joining Steve Bower and Lucy Ward in the commentary box.
Channel 4 and More4 will air live coverage of England’s and Scotland’s group matches against Portugal and Spain as they bid to qualify for the knock-out phase of the tournament.
On 23 July, Ian Wright joins Clare Balding when England take on Spain live on Channel 4, while on the same day, Scotland face Portugal live on More4 where former Scotland manager Vera Pauw joins presenter Kirsteen O’Sullivan.
All knock out games featuring England and Scotland will also be aired live, while Channel 4 has also committed to showing live coverage of at least one quarter-final and at least one of the semi-final matches which take place on 3 August on its main channel.
If both home nations make it through the group stage, the only way they could meet again would be in the final which will be shown live on Channel 4 on 6 August.
Channel 4’s coverage of the tournament will be produced by Whisper Films, who also deliver the network’s Formula 1 coverage, with former BBC head of football Mark Cole, now Head of TV at Whisper Films, leading a team that has a “wealth of experience in football production”.
Despite her considerable experience fronting a variety of major sporting events, this will be the first time that acclaimed presenter Clare Balding has fronted live football coverage.
On leading the Channel 4 on-air line-up for the tournament, Balding said:
“As a huge supporter of women’s sport, I believe that football can have a massive impact on the confidence, fitness and well-being of girls and young women, as well as boys and young men.
“I am so excited to be a part of the Euro 2017 coverage on Channel 4 and I think the tournament can do a huge amount to spread a positive message as well as providing great sport.
“There will much anticipation around Scotland’s debut and an England team that are serious contenders. It would be great if both teams can do well and help the growth of the game so that even more youngsters are inspired to play.”
England are among the favourites to win the tournament having reached the semi-finals of last year’s FIFA World Cup in Canada where they finished third.
Of the 16 teams in the tournament, Scotland are currently ranked 11th while England’s Lionesses are ranked third behind the current holders Germany and second placed France.
Channel 4 outbid the BBC to claim the rights to the 2017 Women’s Euros, bringing live international tournament football to its channels for the first time.
The network’s Head of Entertainment, Sport and TV Events Ed Havard added:
“This is a massive moment for women’s football and Channel 4 is showcasing the EUROs with a first class presenting team led by Clare Balding.
“England have a genuine chance of becoming European Champions and Scotland have everything to play for, so we’re set for a thrilling tournament.”
Channel 4’s exclusive free-to-air coverage of UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 starts on 16 July, culminating with the final on 6 August.
Eurosport will also cover every game from the tournament across its two channels and via Eurosport Player.
Visit the official Channel 4 website for more information about the network’s coverage.