The Sports Matrix: Thursday 13 September 2012


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The Independent Online

Major row brewing after English clubs sign £152m TV deal

The landscape of professional club rugby across Europe is likely to change dramatically as a result of a highly lucrative deal between England's leading teams and the telecoms giant BT – the latest big-money player in the sports broadcasting market, ambitious enough to have splashed out almost £1bn on rights over the last three months. The contract, worth up to £152m to the Premiership teams over four years, threatens to transform the politics of the game in the northern hemisphere, as well as its economics.

Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation representing the 12 top-flight sides in England, announced yesterday that BT had bought exclusive rights to league matches, starting next season. Negotiations were also held with the current broadcasters, BSkyB and ESPN, who have been splitting live broadcasts between them, but they either would not or could not match the BT bid. For BSkyB, the broadcasters who helped drive the sport towards professionalism in the mid-1990s, it appeared to be a heavy defeat.

Controversially, and unilaterally, as part of the deal BT will also have exclusive rights to any European matches involving Premiership clubs once the Heineken Cup contract with Sky ends in 2014. MORE

Ballydoyle old boys dominate Doncaster

Two former Ballydoyle stable jockeys stole the show yesterday at Doncaster as the St Leger meeting opened. Mick Kinane took the "Legends" charity race while Johnny Murtagh won the Listed race on Sole Power. MORE

Ferrari quick to dismiss Perez move

Ferrari have rejected reports Sergio Perez is to join the team for next year. The Sauber driver has impressed this season but the Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, said: "Next season is too early. You need more experience."

Davis match to be investigated

Steve Davis's third-round match in the Players Tour Championship event this month is to be investigated by World Snooker. Davis won the match, against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, 4-0, but irregular betting patterns have alerted authorities. MORE

England delay squad unveiling

Today's naming of England's squad for their winter Test tour of India has been postponed, as confusion continues to surround the possible inclusion of Kevin Pietersen. The announcement will now be made on Tuesday, as preparations for the World T20 are overshadowed. MORE

Cool Cavendish takes race lead

Mark Cavendish won his second successive stage victory in the Tour of Britain yesterday, again taking advantage of help from his team-mates to take the sprint finish. He now leads the race after overtaking Australian Leigh Howard. MORE

Lampard dismisses home comforts

Frank Lampard believes playing at Wembley can sometimes offer its own problems. "Home advantage has its advantages," he said after England struggled to a draw with Ukraine. "But if a team comes and sets up very well it can be an evening of frustration." MORE

Masters event off after funding cut

The Andalucia Masters, due to take place in Spain next month, have been cancelled following the regional government's withdrawal of funding. "This is extremely disappointing news," European Tour executive George O'Grady said. MORE

Van Persie injury fears played down

Dutch officials played down fears of injury to Robin van Persie after the forward was substituted in the Netherlands' 4-1 win in Hungary on Tuesday. "We took off Robin for precautionary measures," coach Louis van Gaal said. "It doesn't seem too serious, but you never know." MORE

England win to tie Twenty20 series

Audacious batting from Craig Kieswetter (50) and Jos Buttler (32no) helped England to a 28-run win over South Africa in the rain-effected third T20 international at Edgbaston. England posted 118-5 from their 11 overs, while the tourists hit 90 for 5 in reply. The series was tied 1-1. MORE

Sam Wallace

It has been a problem that has consumed Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello. All of them – one way or another – have gambled on Wayne Rooney saving their skins. MORE