Jeff Stelling delivers inspiring speech to open Leeds Trinity Journalism Week

Jeff Stelling

By Charlotte Swift

Soccer Saturday presenter, Jeff Stelling, told a packed room full of journalism students that Sky’s £4.2 billion contract for the television rights to the Premier League has inevitably led to streamlining elsewhere.

Jeff told the audience that fellow bidder, BT Sport is a major rival, respected by everyone at Sky.

He spoke about the bidding process for the TV rights: “If you work for the Premier League you are in dreamland … because you know that the price of your product is going to go sky-high … In the case of the Premier League, Sky knew that they could not afford to lose the Premier League, so our bid was such that there was no way BT would beat us.”

Jeff opened Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week with advice and anecdotes, saying the best way of getting into the industry was to find a niche and become an expert in it.

Jeff said he has reported on various sports from sumo wrestling to American football and even had to commentate for an hour on fencing, a sport he admits to knowing virtually nothing about, in the course of his career which has spanned four decades.

He learnt many lessons from covering these sports and said: “I immersed myself in every American football video I could find and I learnt the value of research”.

Starting his career at Hartlepool Mail – his local paper taught him the importance of local journalism.  “I highly recommend local papers and local radio and it’s a great way to make contacts and an absolutely brilliant grounding.”

Jeff said luck has been a huge factor in his career and has helped him get to where he is today.

He added: “If it can happen to me, it can happen to you, chase your dreams, you need a lot of luck – when luck comes to you, you have to grab it with both hands and run with it.

“Whilst working for Radio Tees I had a career defining weekend when I received a telegram saying the sports reporter was ill and I had to attend the Leeds United game versus Middlesbrough.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for me and from that, I was suddenly the station’s sports reporter.”

Jeff finished off with a final piece of advice: “Don’t give anyone an opportunity to push you out, make sure no one snatches that opportunity from you….This is the best career in the world and every day is different.”

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