Lewis given green light to seal £63m TV contract

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The Independent Online

Super League clubs have given the Rugby League's executive chairman, Richard Lewis, the green light to clinch an improved television deal with Sky.

The protracted negotiations over a new TV contract took a new turn this week, with an offer which, along with the BBC payment for continuing to screen the Challenge Cup, takes the value of television rights to £63m over five years.

That involves internationals continuing to be shown on Sky, when many would prefer them to be on terrestrial television. But with budgets for 2004 to finalise, clubs seemed unwilling to hold out for that.

It remains to be seen what trickle-down payment, if any, Super League clubs are willing to make to clubs in the National Leagues, now they are free to negotiate their own TV deals.

Swinton's veteran winger, Jason Roach, has been recalled as a replacement to Scotland's squad to play Ireland in Glasgow on Sunday, along with Rochdale's James Bunyan and Spencer Miller of Whitehaven.

Huddersfield have denied any intention to sign Leigh's player-coach, Tommy Martyn. The former St Helens player has been linked with the Giants, but their chief executive, Ralph Rimmer, said: "We are absolutely not going to sign him. We have got the squad we want."

Hull KR have signed the National League Two Player of the Year, Phil Hasty, from Hunslet. Seamus McCallion, the former Halifax hooker, has become Gateshead's new coach.

Ian Brown has been suspended for a year after failing a drugs test. The Featherstone Rovers centre was found to have a testosterone/epitestosterone ratio of higher than 6:1.