ITV agrees England highlights deal with Setanta

LONDON - ITV1 has secured television highlights for all three remaining England World Cup away qualifiers after striking a deal with Setanta for an undisclosed sum, reported to be as high as £1.5m or £500,000 a game.

The deal, which involved the Football Association, means England fans will now be able to see most of the team's action for free on terrestrial TV. It follows disquiet about fans missing the highlights of recent matches with Andorra, screened only by Setanta, and Croatia.

The sum ITV has paid was not disclosed by either side and is estimated in only two newspaper reports, with the Daily Mirror going for £1.5m and The Guardian £1m.

Setanta refused bids from ITV and BBC for the Andorra game on September 6, saying they were too low; fans responded with chants of "We hate Setanta". It then turned down an offer of £500,000 from ITV for the on-the-night highlights for last week's Croatia game, for which it paid £5m.

At the last minute it elected to drop its subscription barrier so that the game highlights could be seen on the night, then reached a deal for ITV to show the highlights the following night.

The Football Association, which had expressed unease about the lack of terrestrial coverage, was involved in the discussions this week.

Lord Triesman, the FA chairman, said: "I've appreciated the opportunity to discuss this matter with UK broadcasters over the last week. The FA is delighted that a deal has been reached between Setanta and ITV so that highlights of England's remaining away World Cup qualifying fixtures will be available on free-to-air terrestrial television."

The away matches are Belarus on October 15, with highlights at 10.30pm, and two matches next year - Kazakhstan on June 6 and Ukraine on October 10.

ITV already has the rights to show all England home qualifying matches live, including the next game against Kazakhstan on October 11.

Mark Sharman, director of ITV news and sport, said: "We know there is huge demand from fans to watch their qualification journey and we're delighted that every match will now be shown on ITV1."

Setanta's director of sport, Trevor East, said: "Setanta wants to ensure that all England fans can see the highlights of the national team playing in the key World Cup away qualifiers."

Brand Republic Video this week asked the public how they felt about Setanta in the wake of its decisions not to sell highlights for the Andorra and Croatia games.

Read Gordon's Republic blog - "We hate Setanta" on YouTube



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