National League close to TV return on Thursdays

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The Independent Online

Clubs in National League One are hoping for a major boost from games televised live on Thursday nights next season.

The satellite channel British Eurosport wants to show 18 matches, the first regular season coverage since the advent of Super League 11 years ago for the level immediately below.

There will be no money up front for the clubs, but the coverage would make it easier to bring in sponsors and advertisers. The competition is looking for a new backer following LHF Healthplan's withdrawal.

"It's disappointing that there's no immediate revenue involved, but it will make it a lot easier to sell sponsorship," said Widnes' general manager, Pat Cluskey. "By avoiding Super League, we should get much better newspaper coverage on Friday mornings. It's a great chance to promote the sport at this level."

The Rugby League, which is understood to be brokering the deal, said that it was keen to maximise coverage of the National Leagues but had no contract to announce. One complication could be that Sky has the television rights to the National League Grand Finals, which Eurosport would want as the climax of its coverage, while the BBC covers the play-offs.

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