HOME WORKERS: THE BIG PICTURE
In the second of a new feature for this season looking at matchday operations at Stamford Bridge away from the pitch, the official Chelsea website investigates the management of the two big screens when we play at home.
Understandably, the work that goes into producing the content which will be shown on the big screens before, during and after a game starts a few days before the action begins on the pitch. The marketing department at Chelsea liaise with the Chelsea TV team, eventually creating the material that supporters inside the ground will see. Graham Campbell, a senior producer at our in-house television channel, explains the process.
'We treat it as a show,' he says. 'It's all Chelsea TV content that goes on the big screen. In the run up to a home match I'll put a running order together and distribute that to everyone a day or two before the actual show.
'On the day of the game, we all work in a special big screen room next to our main office at the back of the Shed End. In there will be a director, a producer, an editor and a graphics operator.'
The Chelsea TV team use a talkback system to stay in constant contact with Neil Barnett, the pitch announcer, and Carl Chapman, who is in charge of the PA system. This ensures the content displayed on the big screens is in sync with what is delivered through the PA system. For example, when the teams are read out, each player's name and image appears on the big screens.
The screens, which are 62 square metres in area and weigh around seven tonnes, normally begin programming when the first fans enter the stadium two hours before kick-off. If a league or cup match is being televised before our game, then that will be shown. Otherwise, the big screens contain highlights of recent matches, montages showing the work the club does in the community and, fresh for this season, a music playlist that the fans can vote for.
Jon Scammell, who works in the marketing department, describes how the screens are helping the new initiative.
'We use them to promote the playlist. We had previously just picked music based on what we thought fans would want. We've now given ownership back to the fans - they can email in or contact us via social media to let us know what kind of music they would like to be played.
'We pick the most popular songs that are chosen by our fans, and then put the names of the songs on the big screens, as well as the names of people who voted for the songs.'
Our big screens became big news during the opening game of the 2013/14 season when the producing team were presented with an unprecedented challenge, as Campbell recalls.
'Against Hull there was an incident about whether the ball had crossed the line. It was the first case in the Premier League, and I knew it was going to be us!
In terms of goal-line technology, we are instructed to put it on the big screen as soon as we can. It's part of the incoming live pictures that we receive from the host broadcaster.
'Regarding replays more broadly we are limited to what we can show by the Premier League,' Campbell adds. 'We're not allowed to show any controversial incidents. That's not to say we completely censor everything, but if there is a debatable decision it's just common sense we don't show it.'
During Champions League matches UEFA run the screens from an outside broadcast van behind the Matthew Harding Stand, but that changed during our spell in the Europa League last season when Europe's governing body handed the responsibility back to the club.
Campbell is quick to analyse other big screens when he visits stadiums both in this country and abroad, and his experiences have helped him define what role the screen has at a football stadium in Britain.
'The overriding principle of the big screens here at Stamford Bridge is that they're there to support your match viewing,' he says.