This coming Saturday marks the start of the new Barclays Premier League season -- and the weekly heartache of trying to keep up to date with the footie while attending weddings and going to visit the in-laws high up in the Pennines. But don't fear, just because you're not sat in a pub or in front of your brand-new HDTV doesn't mean you can't follow the football -- all you need is your trusty mobile phone and a little know-how.
There are five main ways of receiving updates using your phone: text alerts, mobile football sites, video clips, using a Slingbox, or buying two mobile phones, calling yourself and then sticking one of them next to your telly when Jeff Stelling's Soccer Saturday is on. Much as we love Jeff, we don't recommend the latter unless you like really expensive phone bills.
The first option is pretty straightforward -- most network operators offer a football text-alert service for a monthly charge. All you have to do is contact your provider and get them to set you up, or check its Web site and look for the setup details, which usually involves texting the name of your team to a special number. The charge for using this service varies depending on the network and you'll usually be charged per message, so if you're on a budget you should ask how much it will cost before you sign up.
If you have Internet access on your phone, most networks also provide a mobile football site that gives you a range of information, including pictures and interviews. Or you can access the BBC's mobile sport site by texting 'sport' to 81010. Accessing Web sites on your phone is usually charged according to how much data you download, so it's wise to find out how much Web allowance you have on your contract, or how much it's going to cost you on pay as you go. If you're going on holiday during the season, it's even more important to find out how much it will cost to use abroad, as prices rocket when you're not in the UK.
Reading about a match is hardly the same as watching it, but if you've got a 3G handset you can watch highlights wherever you are in the UK. Sky has teamed up with all the major UK networks to bring clips of all the action from the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League to your mobile. For £5 per month or on a pay-per-view tariff you can access clips of goals just after they've happened and highlights of a match when it's over. Visit 24-7football.co.uk for more information. Again, it's important to point out that you might be charged for the data, so we recommend using this service on a flat-rate data tariff.
Watching clips might be fun, but the mobile footie completist will need a Slingbox. The Slingbox is a quirky-looking device that attaches to your set-top box and lets you access whatever is showing on your TV at home, on a Windows Mobile phone or one of 3's X-Series handsets. The beauty of this system is that it lets you watch matches from your Freeview or Sky box in their entirety, unlike any clip or highlight services.
We think the Slingbox is one of the best solutions, but it does come at a higher price than the other options. You have to pay for a Slingbox, a monthly tariff such as 3's X-Series, which comes in at £20 to £40, and if you want all the matches then you'll need to get Sky and Setanta set up at your home too. Keep an eye on Crave this week for more ways to get the most out of the new season. -Andrew Lim