CHAMPIONS LEAGUE nights are always a blockbuster occasion – on both sides of the pond.
And as the new season gets underway, viewers in the UK are preparing for new-look coverage with Laura Woods fronting TNT Sports.
Over in America, meanwhile, CBS have the broadcast rights with former Sky Sports star Kate Abdo in the presenter’s hotseat.
But who are the key players-turned-pundits providing all the expert analysis – and how much are they worth?
Well, TNT have retained many of the pundits who worked for BT Sport last season as Manchester City were crowned Kings of Europe.
And that means the three main stars are Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Peter Crouch – with Owen Hargreaves, Steve McManaman, Joleon Lescott, Michael Owen and Paul Scholes among those also used.
Ferdinand enjoyed the most successful career on the pitch of the flagship trio, collecting ten major honours with Manchester United including six Premier League crowns – plus the Intertoto Cup with West Ham.
Now the retired centre-back combines his punditry work with various other ventures including his #5 Magazine, podcast and shop, White Chalk Music record label, Rio Ferdinand Foundation, the DeliveryApp tech platform and his Rosso restaurant.
Reports online suggest Ferdinand’s wealth stands at around £58million.
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Like his TNT co-star, the former playmaker has his own podcast – The Joe Cole Cast – and the footballer is valued at around £35m.
Crouch’s only major honour was the 2006 FA Cup during his stint at Liverpool, one of 11 clubs he represented during his 21-year career.
He also scored an impressive 22 goals in 42 England caps before launching his own career in TV with BT, a BBC show and an appearance on The Masked Dancer.
Elsewhere, the 6ft 7ins funnyman has his own hugely-successful and hilarious podcast which has led to a couple of live arena shows.
Married to model Abbey Clancy, they have appeared in Paddy Power adverts together and have four kids.
Crouch is said to be worth approximately £25m thanks to his lucrative football career and subsequent deals.
That totals £118m for Ferdinand, Cole and Crouch combined.
CBS’ coverage has proved mightily popular over recent seasons since acquiring the rights in the US from the 2020-21 campaign.
Produced in Stockley Park, London, by IMG, the three regulars in the studio with Abdo are 2009 Champions League winner Thierry Henry, 2005 Champions League winner Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards, who managed five appearances in the Champions League.
The quartet have brilliant chemistry on air and regularly take the mick out of Richards for his lack of a winner’s medal.
Peter Schmeichel, Alex Scott and Freddie Ljungberg have also appeared on the Sports Golazo Champions League show.
Henry’s sensational playing career saw him crowned a Premier League, FA Cup, LaLiga, Cope del Rey, Champions League, Club World Cup, Super Cup, Euros and World Cup winner.
He also had two podium finishes in the Ballon d’Or before retiring in 2014, stepping into punditry and coaching with Belgium, Monaco and Montreal Impact.
Henry has made some TV appearances, is a Unicef ambassador and has various commercial deals with Renault and Pepsi – with all of that taking his net worth to just north of £100m.
Carragher spent his entire career with boyhood club Liverpool, racking up 737 appearances for the Reds and winning seven major honours including that famous 2005 Champions League, beating AC Milan on penalties.
The two-time player of the year – second on the all-time list for own goals – also earned 38 England caps.
Now he spends most weekends working as a pundit and co-commentator for Sky Sports, striking up a fantastic partnership with ex-rival Gary Neville, and is on CBS for the European nights.
Elsewhere, Carragher has a newspaper column and helped launch a range of affordable e-bikes with fellow Liverpudlian Tony Bellew.
His net worth is estimated now at around £16m.
Richards may not have the football pedigree of his fellow pundits Henry and Carragher, but he is sure doing a whole load of TV work.
The Manchester City ambassador combines his CBS appearances with providing analysis – and lots of laughs – for Sky Sports and the BBC.
Richards’s wealth stands at approximately £4m.
And that sees the CBS line-up total a cool £120m – just £2m more than their TNT rivals.