Ashes and qualifiers set for free-to-air return

A review of sport's 'listed events' will tomorrow recommend that the England cricket team's home Ashes Tests should be screened on free-to-air television.

The recommendations on the 'Crown Jewels' of British sport will be published tomorrow following an inquiry headed by David Davies, the former executive director of the Football Association.



As well as the Ashes, it is understood his report will also recommend that World Cup and European Championship qualifiers involving home nations be listed events, plus Wimbledon tennis championship and golf's Open championship.



The review is also likely to announce the ditching of the 'B' list for highlights.



The Government are not obliged to follow the recommendations and the England and Wales Cricket Board will argue vociferously that the financial impact would be devastating for the sport which has a £300million deal with Sky.



Cricket chiefs are particularly angry given that the BBC has not bid for any packages of live English cricket since 1998.



The Scottish Football Association meanwhile claims they will lose something in the region of £12million if their cup final is included.



It is also understood that horse racing's Derby and rugby league's Challenge Cup final are recommended to be axed as listed events.



The new proposals have been drawn-up after 10 months of hearings, research and input from overseas.



The panel's conclusions will be published by the DCMS tomorrow and they are expected to be followed by a 12-week period of consultation.



But the culture secretary, Ben Bradshaw, and the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, who will ultimately decide whether to accept the panel's recommendations, will struggle to get any changes on to the statute book ahead of next year's general election.



The review was ordered in December 2008 by Andy Burnham, then the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who was keen to ensure that the top major sporting events such as the Olympics were kept on terrestrial television.



Burnham accepted however that the sale of sports rights to broadcasters such as Sky could lead to a positive impact for sports.



Burnham said at the time: "The broadcast of big sports events gets young people inspired by sport, driving sports participation and the creation of the next generation of sports stars.



"The sale of TV rights helps fund grassroots sport, so we need to get the balance right."



The Government have refused to comment ahead of tomorrow's publication.



An ECB spokesman said they had not seen the report, and added: "We have not been given the courtesy of being shown the report ahead of publication."



Cricket chiefs have been saying for some months that the whole review has been flawed with no sports right expert included on the review panel, and a failure of the inquiry to commission independent reports on the economic impact of any changes.



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