'Too expensive and too corporate' – ITV presenter Adrian Chiles says of English football as he praises the German Bundesliga ahead of Bayern Munich facing Borussia Dortmund

In the run up to tonight's Champions League final the former Match of the Day 2 host tells Ian Burrell the game is more beautiful in Germany

The football presenter Adrian Chiles has expressed his concern at the lack of atmosphere inside big English grounds, and appealed to clubs to consider lowering ticket prices.

Speaking ahead of hosting the Champions League final tonight, the ITV presenter said that the biggest English clubs cannot match the vocal support produced by fans in other parts of Europe. “There’s no doubt about it – our places are too corporate. Arsenal, Man United and Man City between them on a European night can’t conjure up the same atmosphere that you get elsewhere on the continent,” he said.

Among television football presenters, many of whom are former players, Chiles has established himself as a voice of the terraces, and his concerns reflect a growing movement among supporters to make the game more accessible to the public and less dominated by big business. English football has been urged to learn from the German Bundesliga, which provides both finalists for this evening’s match at Wembley – Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Chiles, who left the BBC to become the face of ITV football, has been impressed with the fan experience at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena. “The obvious point to make in the German case would be the prices of season tickets and admission, which are much lower. You are pricing an awful lot of people out here, and maybe that makes a difference,” he said.

“At Bayern I love it when they score and the announcer goes ‘Tor! [goal]’. Then he says ‘The scorer, Mario …’ and the crowd all go ‘Gomez!’, they repeat that three times, and then he says ‘the score, Bayern Munchen …’ and 70,000 of them go ‘Zwei!’ and the announcer says ‘FC Barcelona ...’ and they go ‘Nnnnn-ull!’, and then he says ‘Danke’ and they all go ‘Bitte!’. It’s just superb.” And at Paris St-Germain’s recent Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona “the noise was absolutely deafening”, he said. “We were pitch side and it lifted you off your feet. Everybody was chanting in unison. There’s nothing in this country to touch it.”

He was surprised to attend Manchester City’s Champions League game with Ajax and see thousands of unsold seats. “I can’t understand why, at the grounds that don’t sell out every week, tickets aren’t priced ‘to go’. There must be some mechanism for doing that because most money is coming from TV anyway, so make sure there’s a bum on every seat. It’s basic economics – if supply is exceeding demand then something has got to change price-wise.”

Chiles said the roots of pricing problems in English football are deep. He recalled making a BBC radio Working Lunch programme – “donkey’s years ago” – about a Chelsea-supporting London postman. “I asked him ‘Do you go?’ and he looked at me as if I’d asked where he moored his yacht. If a postman can’t afford to watch then something’s wrong.”

Chiles said he was “very grateful” for the privileged position he has – and revealed the cultural interests of his co-presenters during trips abroad. In Warsaw for last year’s Euro championships, Chiles took his fellow Catholics Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira (the fiercest of rivals in their playing days) to attend Mass. “It was a lovely experience and something you never thought you would do, with those two particularly – Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira had been kicking seven bells out of each other on the pitch and suddenly it’s all ‘peace be with you’.”

Chiles says he has overcome fears that Keane might savage him for his lack of playing experience. “We get on better than it looks. He’s just got that sort of look about him.”

In Madrid to cover the Champions League this season, Chiles took co-presenter Gareth Southgate and Tony Pastor, head of ITV Sport, to the Prado, the Spanish national art museum. This “amazing experience” was interrupted by Chiles catching sight of a list of 11 great masters on a museum wall. For the next two days, Chiles, Southgate and fellow pundit Lee Dixon argued over how the artists might line up on a football field. “We had Greco in goal, Caravaggio and Velazquez were obviously centre halves, Lee Dixon picked Tintoretto as a right back, Rembrandt and Poussin are holding midfield, Tiziano [Titian] has got to be wide right, Goya in the hole and Murillo up front. I got the team sheet printed and put in a frame.”

During his time presenting ITV’s Daybreak, Chiles had a reputation for looking miserable. Clearly, he is having more fun now. “It’s tough if it’s going well,” he says of breakfast television. “So if it’s not going particularly well then getting up at half three is not what you want.”

The former presenter of Match of the Day 2 left the BBC in 2010 after The One Show became an unexpected success. Angry that Chris Evans was to present the programme on Fridays with Christine Bleakley, Chiles went to ITV – and Bleakley came with him. But Daybreak didn’t find an audience. It’s not clear what will happen with his panel-based That Sunday Night Show, which has had three series.

You get the feeling that, with his varied interests, he would like to do more. He has ambitions to make documentaries for television and radio. His mother is Croatian and he would like to make a retrospective on the break-up of Yugoslavia, 20 years ago. Last week he was invited to meet the Croatian president Ivo Josipovic at the Ritz Hotel in London.

So he concentrates on ITV’s football, where he must perform in the brief moments between ad breaks and live action. He is preparing to cover next year’s World Cup in Brazil and ITV has landed rights to cover the qualifying games for the 2018 tournament in Russia. Not bad work for a fan who admits “I read the game very badly”, despite having been watching West Bromwich Albion since 1974. “Sometimes I feel like a bit of a cheat – I’ve gone to some lovely city to watch a game of football, and you don’t feel that you do very much.”

football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss