BBC and ITV split spoils in feast for armchair fans

The BBC have the rights to the tournament's opening fixture between hosts Germany and Costa Rica on Friday 9 June and they will also show England's first group game against Paraguay on Saturday 10 June. ITV will show Sven Goran Eriksson's side's next match against Trinidad & Tobago the following Thursday and the final group game against Sweden on Tuesday 20 June.

The BBC will then have first choice of games from the initial knock-out stage, with ITV taking picks two and three. The next round, the last 16, will be split between the channels. The BBC will then have first and fourth choice of the quarter-finals, and ITV will have options two and three.

Should England reach the semi-finals, both the BBC and ITV will show the game live, with ITV showing the remaining semi-final. If England do not reach the semi-final stage, ITV will have first pick of the last four games, with the BBC broadcasting the other match, Both broadcasters will show the final live on Sunday 9 July.

If all goes well for Eriksson, that fixture could be his last in charge and one candidate to replace him was yesterday given the all-clear from his club to go for the job. The Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside said he would not stand in Sam Allardyce's way if he is offered the role.

Gartside, a member of the Football Association council, said: "I am flattered Sam's name has been linked with the England coaching vacancy. Should the call come from the FA, it would be a very proud moment for Sam Allardyce, Bolton Wanderers and me personally.

"Until such time, Sam is 100 per cent committed to his important role at Bolton."

Allardyce, the favourite to replace Eriksson, is also being linked with the vacant Newcastle job but Gartside is convinced Allardyce will not be heading for St James' Park. "Sam has made it clear to me he's not interested in managing a Premier League club at any of the current vacancies," Gartside said.

l The Wales striker John Hartson announced his international retirement yesterday. "It is a sad day for me because I have loved playing for my country and representing the Welsh people for a number of years," the 30-year-old, who also said he hoped to finish his career at Celtic, announced.

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