Lynam renews BBC sports plea

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The BBC's senior sports presenter, Desmond Lynam, renewed his call for the BBC to devote more resources to its sports coverage and asked for Match of the Day to be aired at an earlier time.

Lynam (right) said that the programme's Saturday night start time of 10.50 was "too late for the game, the players and the kids who watch them".

Last month, the presenter expressed dissatisfaction with the start time of the programme but he denied yesterday that he had accused the BBC of betrayal of its viewers in its attitude to sports coverage. "I would have liked the BBC to have been able to show the Italy v England World Cup match last Saturday, but there are budget restraints," he said.

"Competition is fierce and times have changed. Sport has turned Sky's fortunes round. They're making money on the back of football and they do a very good service on sport."

BSkyB aired the England v Italy match live to 8 million viewers in their homes, and to an estimated 4 million viewers in pubs and clubs; the biggest audience for a satellite or cable television channel so far. An additional 11 million watched the match, free, on ITV after the game had finished.

BSkyB tried to poach Mr Lynam from the BBC to take over its sports coverage earlier this year. Out of loyalty to the BBC Mr Lynam signed a contract to stay with the corporation until 2000.