Finland pay-per-view deal riles Keegan

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Kevin Keegan last night condemned the prospect of England matches being shown on pay-per-view television after the London-based company u>direct announced they had paid for the rights for the World Cup qualifier against Finland.

Kevin Keegan last night condemned the prospect of England matches being shown on pay-per-view television after the London-based company u>direct announced they had paid for the rights for the World Cup qualifier against Finland.

Football officials in this country are powerless to stop the game in Helsinki on 11 October being shown on pay-per-view because u>direct have bought the rights from the Finnish FA.

Though it is thought the company will negotiate sell-on rights to terrestrial television for a highlights package, live coverage is set to be shown only on pay-per-view via Sky Sports' digital channel. Keegan said: "I think it should be there for everybody to see. But you have got to remember that in this case, it is Finland's game and the Finnish FA have the rights to do with it what they want to do. They have decided to sell it for pay-per-view, and that's their right. I think there has been a move in England to be fair in the new TV deal to make sure the football does come back on terrestrial TV."

The England coach told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I am [against it] for the national side, definitely - I think it should be available for everybody; and I feel that about all the major events, to be honest. I don't think you should have to buy one of these or have one of those to get it because it is our national sport. But it is Finland's game."

It is understood the Football Association will seek talks with its Finnish counterparts to see if the deal is watertight, as it is uncomfortable with the idea of a vital international fixture being available to only a limited audience for a one-off payment, said to be in the region of £10.

"Clearly this is a decision which has been taken by the Finnish FA," said an FA spokesman, Adrian Bevington. "As the host nation they are empowered to make such a decision without any input from ourselves.

"When brokering our own television contracts it is always a fundamental aim to provide as large a viewing audience as possible. Our home fixtures are currently shown live on BSkyB, with highlights immediately afterwards on ITV, reverting to BBC from the 2001-02 season.

"For our Euro 2000 play-off against Scotland at Hampden Park we managed to negotiate a special deal so the game went out 'as live' immediately after the final whistle. And the return World Cup fixture against Germany next year is due to be shown live on both BSkyB and BBC."

Roger Hall, u>direct's marketing director, said: "Chrysalis will produce the programme but we will have a full support team in the studio and an on-site commentary team.

"This is a first, but the sports rights market is a competitive one and we are not the first people to charge for watching sports on TV. What we are doing is not new, we are just charging in a different way."

U>direct will also screen live this week Champions' League and Uefa Cup qualifiers involving Celtic and Rangers. The company will show Rangers' Champions' League qualifier against Herfolge from Denmark on Wednesday, and a day later they will broadcast Celtic's Uefa Cup qualifying game in Luxembourg against Jeunesse d'Esch.

Comments