Our latest Industry Insider sees us head to the capital and the home of the Blues as we chat with Lee Parker, Chelsea FC’s Presenter and Stadium Announcer.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Lee Parker and I have been working in TV, Sports and Production for 20 years now. My current role is Presenter and Stadium Announcer for Chelsea FC. I’ve previously been Producer & Reporter for Chelsea TV. I also spent 5 years as a Sub-Editor for Sky Sports News. I think the most important part of the role at Chelsea is building relationships and developing trust. Whether that be with players, managers, club executives or the fans.
What do you do in your current role?
I am the Match Day Presenter for home games at Stamford Bridge. This includes reading the team news pre-match and conducting interviews and presentations pitch side. I am also responsible for all in game announcements and post match interviews. I travel to away games as the in house TV Reporter and I also host live events for Partners, Sponsors and various departments across the club.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
An average week can include 2/3 games and some domestic or overseas travel. However this year will be slightly different with the lack of Champions League. When not at games, I will either be at the Bridge or Cobham, depending on what’s on the agenda, speaking to players, manager or hosting live events.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I did a media degree at Solent University, where I was lucky enough to do some work experience which gave me the bug for live TV. After graduating, I spent a year applying for roles before being offered a runner’s position at Sky One. I then moved to Sky Sports News, where I worked in production for 5 years. The initial opportunity at Chelsea came up working as a Producer for Input Media within Chelsea TV. I was then fortunate enough to gain experience in front of the camera in a reporting/presenting role. I never envisaged becoming the stadium announcer but it is the highlight of my career and a position that I absolutely love.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
My main focus is probably preparation ahead of match day. Things like checking phonetic pronunciations and rehearsing things in my head. I also hate being late for anything, so I have to make sure that I’m on site hours in advance.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
I think you always learn and evolve as you go. One occasion stands out though. It was a pre-season game a number of years ago. The Chelsea squad changed shirt numbers and in personnel each game. The final match of the summer was at the Bridge against Spurs and at one point, Chelsea made 8 changes whilst Tottenham, made 5. I quickly reached for the match day programme, to start reading out the respective squad numbers. After the first two, it became apparent that they were all wrong. The players soon got wind of this and would not let me live it down.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
It’s always an exciting role and the game moves on quickly, as does technology. The onset of social media has changed everything, meaning we are much more visible and accountable in everything we do. Embracing change and evolving with it is key as is the ability to be innovative so that we aren’t seen to be standing still. Listening to supporters is so important, in knowing what they like and what they don’t.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
I love the way that the game, the players and managers are now so much more accessible. This can also have a downside though as well. Mutual respect is so important and it’s always good to remember that we are working with humans as opposed to commodities.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive family. My kids are the most important people in my life and spending time with them away from work makes everything worthwhile. Invariably this means playing football with my son though, if you can call that switching off.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
With regards to advice, I’d say listen to as many people as possible. Everyone has their own life experience and you can learn from everyone that you meet. Also, never take yourself too seriously, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, especially when things go wrong.
How to follow Lee Parker…