Football: Sunday deal for ITV

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The Independent Online
THE competition to televise live football on Sundays increased yesterday when the Football League signed a four-year deal with ITV that could be worth up to pounds 40m.

Under the agreement 70 live matches will be shown on Sunday, with many being screened on a regional basis. A capping system will limit the number of appearances by individual clubs.

ITV will pay a lump sum of pounds 25m, which will be topped up by match fees worth between pounds 60,000 and pounds 100,000 to the competing clubs. The deal also includes the rights to the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals and the First Division play-off final at Wembley on 31 May.

ITV will face stiff competition with the Premier League on BSkyB, and Channel 4 starting their Italian League coverage on Sunday week. However, compared with BskyB's pounds 304m deal for showing 60 live Premier League matches, ITV's agreement may be considered cheap.

When the original deal was proposed the Football League clubs asked for it to be renegotiated because it allowed ITV unlimited access to clubs and also meant that there would be wide regional variations on payments.

Trevor East, ITV's head of sport, said: 'We are very pleased that the deal has finally been agreed and that the problems that both sides recognised have been resolved.'

Charlton Athletic's future will not be assured by their return to The Valley in December, which the club announced yesterday.

Even if they manage to achieve the ground's all-seat capacity of 6,000 at every match, the income will not reach Charlton's estimated break-even figure.