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05/07/2002

BSkyB agree £95m broadcast deal with league chiefs

A deal with BSkyB may bailed out some of the Nationwide League football clubs from financial crisis with the news that the corporation has bought the broadcast rights for the next four seasons.
The deal will at least give some succour to league chiefs who have been locked in a battle with ITV Digital owners Carlton and Granada to recoup the money still to be paid by the failed digital platform before it went into administration in March.
The £95 million deal for the rights to broadcast the league over four season is around £85 million less than the amount which the league was owed for the final year of the original broadcast deal. ITV Digital had agreed a £315 million contract in 1999 and reneged on the final instalment of £178.5 million.
Sky now holds the rights to broadcast up to 60 games a season, with live matches being transmitted at 5.35pm on Saturday. The satellite broadcaster will also be able to air Worthington Cup and the LDV Trophy competition games. The first matches will be screened in August.
League Chief Executive David Burns said: "This is great news for the Football League and its clubs and we are absolutely delighted to be returning to Sky Sports. This agreement will help to provide financial stability to clubs at a very important time, as well as top-class coverage of our games."
Whilst the move will bring some much-needed cash flow to clubs, it will not affect plans by league bosses to sue Carlton and Granada for £500 million.
The deal will see clubs receive £20 million in the first year with further instalments up to the 2005-2006 season.
BSkyB, www.sky.com
(GMcG)
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