Talks over TV schedule continue ahead of Premier League fixtures announcement

The first wave of games to be shown on TV are to be announced

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The Independent Football

The Barclays Premier League will continue discussions with all the relevant authorities ahead of the announcement of the first wave of live television fixtures for the 2013-14 season.

Last season, some 129 out of the 138 Premier League games broadcast live in the UK were scheduled with at least six weeks' notice for supporters.

Alterations to kick-off times and dates can, though, also be made for a host of other reasons and not just shifted for television demands - including the progress of teams in European and domestic cup competitions as well as on police advice.

The new Premier League season will begin on Saturday, August 17, and there will be a number of fixtures that may be attractive to broadcasters in the opening round and may therefore move out of the traditional 3pm slot.

David Moyes takes charge of his first league game as Manchester United manager at Swansea, and Jose Mourinho's first competitive game since returning to Chelsea - at home to Hull - are two obvious candidates of matches which could be selected for one of the several TV slots over the weekend, as is Manuel Pellegrini's bow as Manchester City boss against Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

It is understood if all negotiations are completed, then an announcement on fixtures changes could be made tomorrow (Thurs).

The new £3.018billion deal for domestic TV rights for the next three years represents a 70 per cent increase on the previous contract which expired at the end of last season.

Sky, who have televised Premier League games since the birth of the competition in 1992, will show some 116 matches over the course of the forthcoming campaign, which will now also include the 5:30pm slot on a Saturday, as well as their usual Sunday afternoon and Monday night games.

BT will also be significant players this season, having paid £738million over three years for the games which under monopoly regulations cannot be sold to Sky. The company will have 18 "first picks" of matches, and will show games at 12:45pm on Saturdays and also Bank Holidays via their own platforms, which include a dedicated sports channel available on satellite.

There will also be interest in which games are selected for live broadcast on the weekend of August 31 and September 1.

Ideally, England manager Roy Hodgson would want all of his squad to be able to report on September 1 ahead of the crunch Group H World Cup qualifying double-header, at home to Moldova on September 6 and away to Ukraine on September 10.

However, while Manchester United's trip to Liverpool could well be moved forwards to a Saturday lunchtime slot on August 31, there is little flexibility with the scheduling of the north London derby.

Both Arsenal and Tottenham, who are likely to boast a healthy English contingent between them, will have a vital second leg of their respective European play-off ties that week, with Spurs' game set for Thursday, August 29, meaning the game at the Emirates Stadium would have to be moved to September 1.

A spokesman for the Football Supporters' Federation criticised what it sees as the delay between the announcement of the new season's fixtures and the confirmation of which games would be rescheduled for TV.

"The fixtures have been out for weeks now, so fans will be frustrated that it's taken TV companies so long to get their act together," said a FSF spokesman.

"Every passing day can see train fares rising, so the sooner fans know when games are going ahead the better.

"Let's not forget that, as the FSF's Twenty's Plenty Campaign points out, away fans are absolutely vital to the TV 'product.

"The spectacle isn't the same without supporters packing the stands, yet TV shows the match-going fans very little respect and often moves games to almost impossible times for away fans."

PA

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