With the start of the Egyptian Premier League’s 2018/2019 season, Pyramids satellite channel, set to open on Friday, grabbed the attention of everyone, as a large number of football stars agreed to present numerous programmes on the new channel.
Saudi investors, including the ex-honorary president of Al Ahly club and president of the General Sports Authority in Saudi Arabia, Turki Al-Sheikh, finished a purchase deal worth $5m last month for the Al Assiouty Sport club, renaming it to the Pyramids FC. The Saudi investors rented Al Assiouty resort’s facilities for $500,000 for a period of 10 years. The club’s name was changed after the approval of the Egyptian Olympic committee and the Egyptian Football Association.
Sources told Daily News Egypt that Pyramids contracted with Osama Al-Sheikh, former president of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), who acted as adviser to the channel and supervised the selection of broadcasters and football analysts, as well as the channel’s studios in the Egyptian Media Production City. Al-Sheikh also nominated Ehab Galal to head the channel.
The club released a promotional video on their official YouTube channel, where they unveiled a team of 16 pundits and presenters that are set to appear on their channel, including former Egyptian players Ibrahim Said, Khaled El-Ghandour, Ahmed Hossam, commonly known as “Mido”, Reda Abdel-Aal, Ibrahim Hassan, and Ali Maher.
The footage also showed Pyramids President Hossam El-Badry and its director of football, Ahmed Hassan, hinting that they are among the channel’s staff as well.
Pyramids raised controversy after announcing that Hassan Al-Mestikawy, president of Wadi Degla SC, will host a programme on its channel, before Al-Mestikawy withdrew under media criticism. Ibrahim Hassan, director of football at Al-Masry FC; his twin Hossam Hassan, head coach of Al-Masry; and Ali Maher, head coach of Smouha FC, were also slammed for their participation with the channel, as they work for competing clubs.
Pyramids also offered former referee and Egyptian Football Association board member Essam Abdel Fattah to analyse the performance of the referees, during the league on the new channel, sparking controversy in the association, before Hany Abu Reda, president of the association, convinced Abdel Fattah to reject the offer.
The new channel’s team included various football figures known for their insightful analysis in the Arab world, such as Ahmed Hossam “Mido”, who preferred to work on Pyramids channel instead of Qatari BeIN Sports; Khalid Bayoumi, an analyst at Abu Dhabi Sports; and the trio Hossam Al-Badri, Ahmed Hassan, and Hadi Khashba, who lead the club.
The channel’s management also signed controversial presenter Ahmed Al-Sharif with a monthly salary of EGP 120,000. Strangely, the channel contracted Al-Sharif’s major critic, Abu Al-Maati Zaki, who broadcasts his programme on social media networks.
The channel will also have Khalid Al-Ghandour and Reda Abdel Aal, who are known for their huge viewership and spontaneous expressions and opinions that always raise controversy on social media. Al-Ghandour’s new programme on the Pyramids channel will hold the name “The ball is in your court”, the same name of his previous radio programme.
Ahmed Afify, who presented his famous programme “Pass to Afify” on social media before moving to satellite channels, will be an influential member of Pyramids’ new channel. Afify will co-present the channel’s match analysis programme with his former colleague, Ibrahim Fayek.
The channel will present for the first time former player Ibrahim Saeed, who is famous on social media for his controversial opinions, especially on Twitter, and often engages in intensive discussions with his followers.
Veteran football presenter Medhat Shalaby will host the main programme on the new channel, benefiting from his wide base of followers. The channel also signed commentator Bilal Allam, who used to be a part of MBC Sport’s commentary team of the Saudi league.
Pyramids channel is set to broadcast all the team’s league games, as well as 15 matches for Al Ahly and Zamalek, in addition to summaries of other league games.