STAGS GOALS COULD SOON BE BACK ON OUR TV SCREENS
Following the disappointment of Stags 4 cracking goals against Plymouth not being shown anywhere on TV, there could be a solution soon. Read on:
League in humiliating ITV deal
By Ian McGarry and Peter Ferguson, Soccernet.com, Tuesday, August 13, 2002
The Football League is close to signing a humiliating deal with ITV worth a paltry £2million a year.
It is understood that ITV hopes to clinch a contract with the Nationwide League for a terrestrial highlights package that will be worth just £50,000 a season to struggling First Division clubs.
The move is bound to increase the bitterness felt by Nationwide chairmen after the collapse of ITV Digital left them with a £178m hole in their finances.
The news comes after Burnley decided to ban ITV reporters and cameras from Turf Moor. Chairman Barry Kilby urged other clubs to follow his example after he discovered that ITV cameramen had tried to gain access to the ground last Saturday for the League opener against Brighton when there is no deal on the table.
Kilby said: 'The cheek beggars belief. It is a bit rich of them to think they can wriggle out of a £178m debt, which they are morally responsible for, and then try to carry on as if nothing has happened.'
More than 600 players have been thrown on to the scrapheap by Nationwide clubs since the collapse of ITV Digital, owned by Granada and Carlton.
Now, less than six months after the plug was pulled on that contract, worth an estimated total of £315m to the League, clubs will be receiving just £6m in a three-year deal.
An agreement is expected to be finalised within 10 days. Sources at ITV confirmed the company was in negotiations and said that it hoped to tie up a package that could potentially see next weekend's fixtures broadcast.
The BBC and Channel 5 were also interested in the right to screen extended highlights of the First, Second and Third Divisions, but ITV is the clear favourite to clinch it.
Rights for the highlights are the last to be sold by the Football League after it agreed a £95m, four-year deal with BSkyB for live matches. Discussions between the two bodies have been described as awkward given their recent history and the Football League realises that any agreement with ITV is going to stick in the throats of its members.
However, financial needs demand that it secures the best deal available regardless of who is tendering it, while ITV's regional structure with its ability to show footage locally makes the Nationwide League a valuable commodity for them.
It would mean that goals could be shown on news programmes throughout England with a Nationwide League version of The Premiership then screening the best of the weekend action - probably on a Sunday.
John Nagle, spokesman for the Football League, confirmed that he expected a highlights contract would be signed soon.
'The League is in negotiations with several broadcasters and we're confident of tying up an agreement in the next two weeks,' he said.
Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn, who also sits on the League board, said: 'We have to move on and look to the future rather than dwell on what has happened. We must be sure we learn from our mistakes.
'The ITV Digital saga is done and dusted. ITV is a major broadcaster and if they get the rights, so be it.
'Our sponsors need to see their names on the screen. Maybe we just need to make sure the contract is watertight!'
Latest | August 2002