Football: Scots seal a pounds 45m TV deal

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The Independent Online
QUIET Sunday evenings at home will be a thing of the past for thousands of football supporters north of the border next season following the Scottish Premiership's acceptance of a pounds 45m, four-year deal with Sky.

The contract involves the screening of 30 live matches a season, with the kick-off time set for 6.05pm after coverage of Football League and English Premiership matches has finished. The armchair fan couldnow watch live domestic football from lunchtime to 8pm.

The contract represents a seven-fold increase on the deal done by the Scottish League, which was worth pounds 12m and was for League, Scottish Cup and Coca-Cola Cup ties. The new deal embraces only league games and, with cup ties taken into account as well, the total value to Scottish football is between pounds 80m and pounds 85m.

Paul Gascoigne's agent yesterday accused Glenn Hoddle of being "brainwashed" into dropping the midfielder from his World Cup squad. Mel Stein believes Gascoigne has been treated like a "Nazi war criminal" and that by leaving him out of his final 22 for France, the England coach has ruined his side's chances.

Stein said: "I think we've dropped the pilot and all we are left with is the Marie Celeste. It has become a ghost ship and I don't think we will do well. I wasn't very sure if we were going to win it even with Paul, but I think we had a real chance of getting to the quarter-finals or semi-finals. We will be lucky to get out of the group now."

Stein added: "OK, so he had a bad game in this meaningless tournament. Name me one player who didn't."

Gerard Houllier last night confirmed he is in talks with Sheffield Wednesday about the vacant manager's job, but he added that his services are in demand. The former French national coach works for the French FA in a role similar to that of the FA's technical director, Howard Wilkinson, but he has indicated that he wants to return to club management after the World Cup finals.

Sheffield United yesterday interviewed the Arsenal midfielder and former England international David Platt about their managerial vacancy.

Martin O'Neill will today decide his future at Leicester after a meeting with the club's new hierarchy. O'Neill has demanded talks to discuss his "serious concerns" about boardroom changes made at the end of the season.

Aston Villa have bid pounds 4.8m for Bolton's Alan Thompson. Chairman Doug Ellis sanctioned manager John Gregory's vastly improved offer in an attempt to push Manchester United, Leeds and Everton out of the chase.

Villa's offer is over pounds 1m more then they tabled last week for the goalscoring midfielder, but both Ellis and Gregory want their man.

Crystal Palace have been confirmed as England's representatives in the Inter-Toto Cup next season. The Uefa deadline for entrants passed yesterday without any other English clubs putting their names forward, despite the incentive of three Uefa Cup places being on offer.

Nottingham Forest's captain Colin Cooper has agreed a two-year contract with the First Division champions. The England defender, 31, opened negotiations with Forest last summer but after the talks broke down, the manager, Dave Bassett, accepted a pounds 2.5m bid from West Ham. Cooper turned it down.

The former Dutch international Ronald Koeman, who scored the goal that won the 1992 European Cup for Barcelona, said he is returning to the club as an assistant coach to his compatriot Louis van Gaal.