MPs attack ECB over exclusive Sky Test match deal

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The England and Wales Cricket Board came under fire yesterday for exchanging short-term gain for long-term investment when it sold exclusive live rights to Test matches to Sky.

MPs on the Commons' culture, media and sport select committee demanded to know why the sporting authority broke a "gentleman's agreement" forged between the former culture secretary Lord Smith and ex-ECB chairman Lord MacLaurin that a substantial proportion of Test match coverage would stay on free-to-air television.

Under the £220m deal, which stretches from 2006 to 2009, only subscribers to Sky will be able to watch live coverage of Tests.

Sports minister Richard Caborn said that he would be prepared to try to broker a deal, but he doubted it would be possible to break Sky's exclusive contract.

The ECB chief executive David Collier insisted that without the deal English cricket would be £80m worse off. But Adrian Sanders, the Liberal Democrat MP for Torquay, said: "You could have made more on the back of England's Ashes victory. You will lose money in the long term."