DEREK Rae is poised to become the voice of Scottish football once again as ESPN negotiate a homecoming for the Stateside commentator as part of their 30-game Clydesdale Bank Premier League coverage.
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The Herald understands that the 42-year-old, based in Bristol, Connecticut, has been offered the chance to commentate on the station's SPL coverage on an ad-hoc basis without hindering his commitments across the Atlantic.
Rae joined ESPN International after the World Cup in the USA in 1994 and has become one of the most distinctive and respected voices on the channel's football coverage in the States.
As well as Major League Soccer, Rae also lent his expertise to ESPN's Champions League coverage - they have since lost the rights to Fox Sports - and hosts a weekly magazine show, PressPass.
The Aberdeen-born broadcaster famously got his break at 19 when an injury to his idol, David Francey, enabled him to make his debut for BBC Scotland, covering Kilmarnock v Dumbarton. He was subsequently hired to cover Scotland v England in the Rous Cup and his career blossomed.
Last night, Francey, one of the most popular commentators of his generation, welcomed the news. "I am delighted to hear there is a chance of Derek coming back to commentate on Scottish football," he told The Herald.
"Even when he was a young man making his way in the business I liked his style. He followed my own style, which was to follow the ball and try to capture the occasion. When I heard him at first I thought: He is going to be good'.
"There is so much live football these days that, sadly, people would rather watch than listen but to have Derek back would certainly make Scottish football more enjoyable for me and a lot of other fans in this country."
Subscription to ESPN will cost £12.99 per month but the cost of watching live Scottish Premier League football is set to more than triple, from last season's monthly figure of £12.50 for Setanta, to £44.50.
Viewers who subscribed to Setanta last season could receive every single live Scottish Premier League game on offer. The new deal with Sky Sports and ESPN means that viewers will also have to subscribe to both Sky Sports channels - they will have the rights to Old Firm games - at £31.50 per month.
The deal, for an initial three-year period, will involve the two broadcasters sharing 60 live games per season.