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Big debate: Should all football internationals be free to air?


Richard Black Prada Eyeglass Case Caborn Former sports minister

The England team, and other national sides for that matter, broadly speaking ought to be accessible on free-to-air television. Ideally, you want as many people as possible to see the national game to promote it. At present, England’s home international qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup are live on ITV but other nations such as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have very limited access on terrestrial channels.

I think the A-list of sports events, the crown jewels that are deemed of such national importance that they are protected for free-to-air television by the government, comes up for review next year and that is when the decisions will be taken as to whether to extend that or not to include qualifiers. Of course, there has to be a balance between ensuring that the game receives a commercially sound fee for the television rights yet still reaches the population.

We have to be careful; if we force some sports down the road of having to sell certain rights to free-to-air television then you immediately put the main broadcasters, the BBC and ITV, in a very strong negotiating position and you risk it becoming a biased market. In cricket it was strongly argued that ring-fencing rights for terrestrial channels would mean a much Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shopping lower price was obtained for the package.

When it came to negotiating the broadcasting rights for cricket in England, including Tests, after the Authentic Prada Leather Handbags Ashes victory in 2005 I gave evidence to the select committee that scrutinised the decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board to sell the rights for all live Test cricket to paid-for TV. I defended the stance taken by the ECB at the time and there is no doubt that the television money from the pounds 220m deal with Sky Sports has been incredibly beneficial to grassroots cricket and the promotion of the game.

Had we continued with the terrestrial television contract in cricket, at the price it was cricket wouldn’t have been able to invest in schools and counties cricket and seen that investment pay the dividends that it has.

Football, though, is a totally different scenario; the game is awash with money from different sources and I don’t think you can argue the same cost/benefit analysis for associations taking football internationals to paid-for television. Where does the extra money go and what does it do? If the grassroots of the game and the facilities Ap Lei Chau Prada Factory Outlet are not going to improve to the extent that the positives outweigh the negative effect of losing the visibility of the national team to the general population then there is a case to argue that all international games should have at least some presence on free-to-air television.


Alex FynnRights consultant who recently worked with Premier League clubs

Domestic and international football television rights are bought and sold in a free marketplace. I approve of this largely because the smaller clubs and federations have very few big paydays and the biggest paydays the likes of Andorra, Belarus and Georgia receive are when one of the top countries visits in major championship qualifiers.

These federations own the television rights to their country’s matches – is it right that the likes of Georgia should be penalised simply in order that free-to-air television can be broadcast to fans in the UK or Ireland? I am not saying it is an either/or situation; free-to-air broadcasters can offer the best deal but the possibility of the smaller federations losing out could happen. In France, for example, TF1 has the rights to home and away internationals to broadcast for free-to-air television. It is quite likely, although you cannot say definitively, that some of the counties they played, such as the Faroe Islands in the Euro 2008 qualifiers replica prada saffiano handbags, Authentic Prada Shoes For Sale would get more in a free market from the likes of Canal Plus, which is pay TV. If you relate that to England’s game against Belarus, that has to be the criterion by which a smaller nation negotiates a rights deal.

Of course, the free market also means the Football Association is free to sell the rights to home internationals to Authentic Prada Outlet Online Uk whomever they want. It has chosen to try to have its cake Are Prada Bicester Village Prada Online Mens Shoes Worth It and eat it by selling the free-to-air rights to ITV and the pay rights to Setanta. If it was really interested in ensuring the widest audience, it would have sold the free-to-air rights to the BBC and the pay-TV rights to Sky. Of course, the FA can say it is also trying to ensure a higher rights fee to develop the game. But what is the money spent on? The FA weakens its own argument when spending millions hiring foreign managers rather than, say, building an academy like the one France have at Clairefontaine.

The outcry that the qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia are not on free-to-air channels is most likely because Setanta only has a small subscription base, unlike Sky Sports. Setanta is perfectly entitled to negotiate the sum it wants for highlights but it would have been smarter to follow Sky’s example when it was setting out. Having Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shop Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shopping bought the rights to England’s final qualifier against Italy ahead of the 1998 World Cup, Sky then allowed the BBC to show it as-live. This gave them the cachet of showing the match first, but also appeased the fans who they later hoped to win over as future subscribers.

Alex Fynn’s latest book is Arsnal: The Making of a Modern Superclub, Vision Sports Publishing Ltd