This is a MASSIVE bombshell story that has not been confirmed by ESPN themselves, but has been confirmed by the head of Sky Sports. First reported in the Daily Mail, it is now confirmed that the best USA Men’s soccer broadcaster….England’s Ian Darke, has left Sky Sports and will join ESPN as the voice of the Premier League.
The Daily Mail stated it was a three year contract:
Ian Darke’s ‘Go Go USA’ commentary after Landon Donovan’s late winner against Algeria clinched a place in the last 16 of the World Cup cemented his popularity with ESPN’s American audience during the tournament.
So much so, the network outbid offers to turn Sky veteran Darke’s summer moonlighting into a permanent position. Darke has received a three-year contract to be the voice of the Premier League for ESPN in America.
I’m a huge Darke fan and I’m really glad he’s permanently a USA broadcaster. There is more to this story but Barney Francis of Sky Sports confirmed “Darkie” has left Sky Sports after 20 years with them. More to come soon. It is not known if he is leaving immediately or if he’ll cover more sports. His famous USA matches in the World Cup and excitement definitely got ESPN thinking and they thought correctly. Let’s see how this works out.
UPDATE: Received this information from another commentator in regards to his position.
Yes, what’s happened is that Ian has not renewed his contract with Sky and has signed one with ESPN America instead.He is doing/has done a couple of boxing jobs to finish off, but will then be taking up his new role as the voice of ESPN’s Premier League coverage, mainly on the Saturday and Monday games, with Steve McManaman co-commentating..He will also be covering USA internationals and the major summer tournaments.He won’t be doing any more football for Sky, but has left on good terms and with thanks for 20 years of outstanding service, along with their good wishes,which was important to him.As you can imagine, it was a very difficult decision for him after so many years at Sky.In the end, he decided the chance to be number one for ESPN was a new challenge he couldn’t turn down late in his career.”
Now this is huge. That assures he will be commentating at Euro 2012, many big Premier League matches, and return to his rightful duty of calling USA matches. No word on whether or not this will affect JP Dellacamera’s standing with US games significantly.
I speak for the majority in saying welcome to ESPN full-time, Mr. Darke. We look forward to getting infected with Darke’s contagious enthusiasm and passion when calling the game without coming off like a screaming maniac.
UPDATE II (9/17): For those wondering whether or not Darke would be moving to the US permanently, he’s not.
He won’t be moving to America, he will be based in the UK still. Ian will be covering two Premier League matches most weeks, along with USA internationals. The commentaries will only be going out to America. He will be on site.
So based on that information, Darke’s involvement calling USA games will be ad-hoc and he’ll just fly out when the game time comes, otherwise he will not be stuck in the Bristol janitor closet doing games he could’ve done in England. He has some boxing to do tomorrow but it highly likely he makes his debut next Saturday when Man City play Chelsea at 7:45 AM ET.
As for Sky Sports, they have signed Ian Crocker to replace Darke. Crocker worked for Sky for nearly a decade before leaving for Setanta Sports. Once Setanta went out of business Sky re-hired him in 2009 as their lead Scottish Premier League commentator, and now Crocker will cover Rangers in the UEFA Champions League plus get live English Premier League matches.