ITV apologises for big match adverts own goal

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The Independent Online

ITV has apologised to football fans for showing adverts during the only goal in the Merseyside derby.

Many viewers missed Dan Gosling's extra time winner last night which saw his Everton side put local rivals Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

Some just managed to catch the goal after a number of ITV regions and digital channels returned to the game seconds before Gosling's strike.

But for others the adverts continued and the first fans knew of the goal was the Everton team's celebrations.

Match presenter Steve Ryder said: "If you missed the goal we apologise. It was because of technical problems we had at that time."

It is understood an automated system for broadcasting adverts, which should only be used on "regular schedule" nights, kicked in as the game continued in extra time.

The system is not designed for live events such as football games which can over-run and delay the schedule.

The only goal came just minutes before the end of extra time.

Everton fan Robbie Hall, 31, from Walton, Liverpool, said: "I was furious with them for trying to squeeze an ad break in at that stage of the game.

"What were they thinking?

"I was watching on Freeview and once the adverts got under way we had no idea what was going on.

"After about 10 seconds the game returned just as Gosling scored. I saw the goal live but it was a mess."

Another viewer, Paul Snowdon, 41, from Maghull, Merseyside, said: "I was watching on terrestrial but I had the radio commentary on and so when ITV switched to adverts I could hear the build-up to the goal.

"I turned over on cable TV and saw the goal but there was quite a panic to find the remote control in time.

"ITV needs to start taking its football seriously. This should never have happened.

ITV said the problem occurred at the transmission centre and was not the responsibility of the ITV Sport production team.

The broadcaster's executive chairman, Michael Grade, said: "Most importantly I'd like to apologise to all our viewers who were affected by last night's unprecedented technical error.

"As a football fan myself I was glued to the match and was as disappointed as anyone to miss the goal.

"We have years of experience in dealing with the changes in ad break patterns when games go into extra time and sometimes penalties - this we have done faultlessly through the Champions League, World Cup and European Championships.

"Last night's glitch was inexcusable and we are awaiting the results of our technical inquiry so we can put in place stringent and immediate procedures to address this."