Football: United at the forefront of the television revolution

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The Independent Online
Greg Dyke, the television executive and Manchester United director, has said he can envisage the day when the Premiership club - who launch their own channel next season - will have a broadcasting monopoly on all matches at Old Trafford.

Dyke claimed yesterday that United, who already have their own radio station, could one day become the sole broadcaster of home games, and he warned television companies that his club are unlikely to be the only one to go down the same road towards exclusive rights to their own games.

"I think that eventually clubs will be able to dictate who broadcasts from their grounds. It will not come immediately, but it will come," he said. "Once there are 150 or 200 channels coming into the home - and that could possibly run into thousands in 20 years from now - then it seems to me inevitable that clubs like Manchester United will control their own rights."

At present broadcasting rights for United's league matches are held by the Premiership, while Uefa, European football's governing body, controls European broadcasts. But Dyke, whose election to the Old Trafford board has coincided with the Reds' first venture into their own TV production, said it may not be too long before the clubs take over.

Manchester United TV will go on air next season, but Dyke says it should not be confused with pay-for-view, which is also in the pipeline. "Manchester United television will be a magazine show which comes some time next year. It'll talk about the club and show youth games and reserve games unless we get permission from the Premiership to show first team games.

"Pay-for-view will come later and it'll be different to television as we have known it up to now. What we have had so far is 'broadcasting' - that is a game available to very large numbers of people.

"The advantage of pay-for-view is that fans will be able to buy a season ticket and see Manchester United games. That will come in the next five years and it will mean that if you can't get tickets for games you will be able to buy a season ticket and watch them in your home.

"There may not be more than two or three hundred thousand people across the country watching it, and when it comes it will be an addition to the present service."

The League Managers' Association yesterday warned clubs not to become "fashion victims" by rushing to sign foreign managers.

With Christian Gross, at Tottenham, joining Arsene Wenger and Ruud Gullit and Gross in the top flight, the LMA fears the chances for young British coaches may become more limited.

John Barnwell, the chairman of the LMA, said: "If it gives our coaches a kick up the backside to get more qualifications and improve, then it might be no bad thing. But what we have to be careful of is that it should not become a fashion or personality appointment.

"We have to leave a way open for young managers to be able to reach the very highest levels of the game."

Critics have suggested that clubs have been forced to look abroad for managers because of a lack of quality coaches in Britain. But Barnwell believes this is not the case, and wants to encourage the movement of managers abroad to create a two-way street.

"Blackburn and Arsenal took a long time to make an appointment because they find it difficult with a code of conduct in place [which prevents clubs poaching other managers from the same division]." He added: "You can't go around just tapping up other managers and clubs respect that code because it protects them.

"I would like to see our managers and coaches extolling their own virtues abroad. We have proved we have some of the best coaches in the world."