The day is upon us once again. The English Premier League football season begins and with it the rise of a feverish addiction to all things beautiful game. However, over the course of the next nine months you must stay strong, for tens of people and hundreds of commitments will do their level best to get between you and the match, but do not worry. As ever, Pocket-lint is here to ensure that your life runs just as you want it to - smooth, as easy as possible and with the odd ripple of pleasant surprise here and there.
As such, it’s our mission for the 2011/12 season to keep you in touch with the happenings on the pitch and off it. So, to make all that possible, here are the very finest must have football apps for your smartphone of choice (although, admittedly you’ll probably do better if you’re on iOS and Android. To all others, soz.)
ESPN Goals (BlackBerry, Android, WP7, iOS)
Let’s get the bad news over quickly. If you’re not interested in the Premier League, then his app is dead to you. However, if you are, it’s basically the best thing that’s ever happened to smartphones. ESPN Goals was on the scene last year but the version for 2011/12 is more powerful than you could ever imagine. What it’s going to do for you is bring you video footage of every single goal in the Premier League as soon as it happens (barring the 3pm Saturday kick-offs where the vids will arrive as soon as the UEFA imposed window closes at 5.15pm).
You can set the app to send you alerts when the goals arrive and even narrow it down to do so only when it’s in a game involving your team. On top of all that, there’s team line-ups, text commentary and even the ability to share bits and pieces over Facebook and Twitter. But it’s really about the goals. Lots and lots of yummy goals. Only works in the UK. Sorry folks. Free
Sky Go (iOS)
If just the goals aren’t enough for you, then there is an app to let you watch the entire game - so long as it’s on Sky TV which, let’s face it, most of them are. This renamed and revamped version of the Sky by Mobile service currently offers Sky Movies Premiere, Showcase, Action, and Family, Sky News, Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4, Sky Sports News and ESPN with the promise of further channels to be added over time.
Sky Go is free to those who subscribe to Sky but you can also pick up channel packages starting from £15/month if not. It’s also worth remembering that you might not even need to be a subscriber yourself to enjoy it. There’s nothing to stop you appreciating the benefit of a friend or family member’s subscription who doesn’t use it themselves. The trick, of course, is that Sky Go is only available on two registered devices per subscription, and that seems to include Sky Player on the Xbox. Free/not
LiveScores (Android, iOS)
There’s a few apps out there that’ll bring you the scores of the games as they’re happening. In fact, there’s loads, which is why we’re recommending this one. LiveScores is a self-updating list of just about every single sporting event in the world of tennis, basketball, hockey and, yes, football.
What’s nice is that you get to remember that there are other leagues out there than those in England and it’s good to feel that you know a little more about world football other than that there are two big teams called Barcelona and Real Madrid. LiveScores beats the others we’ve tested largely because it works. It’s smooth, it looks nice and doesn't crash too much. Enough to keep you fascinated in the pews at even the most lengthy of weddings. Free
Footy Chants Live - 69p/week (iOS)
We’re taking a bit of a risk here by saying that Footy Chants Live is one of the best football apps because we haven’t actually tried it. No one has. That’s because it wasn’t available a the time of writing but we’d bet our bottom one that you can get it after the Prem season proper begins on 13 August. The reason we’re including it on the off chance is that it’s a one of a kind and something entirely new to the app-consuming world.
The Footy Chants Live team are sending two reporters down to every single one of this season’s Premier League fixtures. One will sit in the home end and one in the away end and their job is to live blog back the chants as sung by each group of supporters which will then be beamed unedited and uncensored to a phone near you. It’s a subscription service where you get all the week’s games for 69p or its £9.99 for the season. While we can imagine the odd teething problem and necessary tweek here and there, it’s certainly one worth keeping your eye on.
Most football clubs these days - certainly those in the top flight - have an official app all of their own. They might not make the most riveting of regular reads but they’re an excellent source of reference material such as fixture lists, player profiles as well as access to the club shop and ticket office.
On top of that, you might well get some video interviews with the players, live text commentary from the games as they happen and a stream of news articles both from the club site and the web in general. Doubtless, it will also try to sell you something at all opportunities but, hey, it’s all for a good cause.
Championship Manager 1980s Legends (iOS)
The technically superior Football Manager game is also available on iOS but it’s a touch too fiddly for the mobile phone as well as being just a bit tricky. So, for something a little more casual, try Championship Manager 1980s Legends. The game allows you to start you quest to top the tables in either 1980, 1983 and 1986 and the massive advantage here is that you know exactly how the young players are going to pan out. So, armed with a future knowledge of football, transfers should be a highly amusing no-brainer with bargains a-plenty if you know where to look for them.
There are also some other quirks to watch out for. There’s only 2 points for a win in 1980, only two subs allowed, no transfer window to get in the way and, of course, no European competitions to enjoy after 1985. Speaking of which, the game is dedicated to those who lost their lives at the stadium disasters of Heysel, Hillsborough and Valley Parade. £1.79
Fantasy Premier Manager (Android)
Probably the most popular Fantasy Premier League game out there is the official one from the PL itself. Now, while they’ve set up a mobile version of the site to help you access your squad on the hoof, there’s no actual app available. The good news is that a chap by the name of Lee Jeary has made his own version for Android users to enjoy.
You can use the software to do pretty much everything you need in the way of managing your team, making transfers and generally seeing to it that, just because you forgot to make your substitutions before you left home, it won’t ruin your entire season. Don’t bother with the free version. £1.49
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