LEAGUE AGREES TV HIGHLIGHTS DEAL WITH ITV
Radio 5 report (Realplayer needed):
Clarets back TV deal, 8 Oct
Burnley chairman Barry Kilby has revealed that the Clarets voted to accept the proposal from ITV to screen Nationwide League highlights, despite previously fiercely criticising Carlton and Granada's role in the collapse of the ITV Digital deal.
Part of ITV's new bid was to drop their claims for £1million in legal fees resulting from the High Court battle with the Football League, meaning that the Nationwide clubs had little choice but to accept their offer ahead of a rival bid from the BBC and Channel 5.
Kilby told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph: "At the end of the day we had to go along with the decision because it was a case of getting either £88,000 or nothing and all the clubs have to face their bank manager.
"If we had signed the deal offered by the BBC and Channel 5 the money would have been wiped out by those costs," he said of the legal fees.
"And the fact remains that ITV is the best media for us to show a highlights package because of the regional nature of the channel.
"Dealing with ITV again might not be what we would have wanted but when it came down to it they were the only people on the block. We have a business to run and so we had to vote to accept the deal.
"I spoke to a number of other chairmen and they were of the same mind. I think only one or two clubs voted against but we really did not have any option."
League agrees highlights deal
The Nationwide League has agreed a television highlights deal with ITV believed to be worth £5m over two years.
Lower division football has been without a terrestrial highlights broadcaster since ITV Digital went into administration in April.
The new package is believed to be the best available but is still a far cry from the riches originally offered by the old digital deal.
The ITV Digital contract promised £178.5m for live rights and highlights over a two-year period.
But following the company's collapse, the league has only been able to secure £95m from Sky for a four-year agreement covering just live games.
Add in the highlights deal, which is expected to be announced officially later this week, and the league's rights have an average annual value of £25m over the next two years.
That is less than a third of what the original ITV Digital deal was worth.
And not all of the highlights package's headline figure of £5m may come in hard cash.
It is believed that sum could include a settling of legal costs incurred by the league in its failed pursuit of ITV Digital through the courts.
For many of the Nationwide clubs currently teetering on the financial brink, the deal will bring little immediate improvement in their precarious positions.
First Division sides are likely to receive £90,000 a year, Second Division teams £45,000 a year and Third Division outfits just £35,000 a year.
The new deal was agreed by a majority of the 72 club chairmen and is likely to have been most welcomed by Second and Third Division sides, where revenues requirements are lowest.
But many First Division clubs signed players on lucrative deals in anticipation of receiving £2.5m a year from ITV Digital.
And an extra £90,000 a year will make little impact on their efforts to balance the books.
The Football League is on the verge of signing a new contract with ITV, according to the Sunday Times.
The news comes just six months after ITV's main partners, Carlton and Granada, pulled out of a £315m deal with the League, who had acquired the television rights to the League's games for the now defunct ITV Digital.
The newspaper reports that the new contract -- worth £5m over two years, for highlights only -- will outrage chairmen of the League's 72 clubs, many of whom are financially crippled from the collapse of the DTT operator. Nevertheless, in a vote last week, more than 50% backed the deal over a rival joint bid from the BBC and five.
The contract will be formally signed in the next "two to three days," with highlights returning to the air as soon as October 19.
Posted by Martin Shaw
Latest | October 2002