Sports letter: TV would gain from club-by-club deals

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The Independent Online
Sir: In the current case involving the OFT and the Premier League I am inclined to side with the Sports Minister, Tony Banks, and the Football Task Force led by David Mellor. They claim that the OFT may upset a beneficial arrangement if it rules against the current contracts between the Premier League and TV companies. They could be right but I'm afraid that either way it will be the ordinary fans who lose out, as usual, and the TV companies will win.

Time was when football matches were played on Saturday afternoons, weekday evenings and the occasional Bank Holiday; fans packed on to crowded terraces. Now all-seater grounds provide less accommodation, it is difficult to get match tickets - even if you can afford them - and fans have to suffer erratic scheduling for the benefit of TV. I am a season ticket holder and attend home League fixtures at Anfield. But although I can obtain a ticket for the Cup tie between Manchester United and Liverpool this weekend, I cannot go because it is on a Sunday - at 12 noon.

Victory for the OFT will mean further confusion, further disruption of match-scheduling and the introduction of Pay-per-view TV (which seems inevitable anyway). I can't afford Sky and although I enjoy watching a match in the pub, where the atmosphere is often like that on the terraces of old, Pay-per-view will further reduce this opportunity. The loyal fans seem to be the last people to be considered today and the football moguls are not the only ones to get it wrong. The recent enthronement of the new Bishop of Liverpool was scheduled on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm. In LIverpool, in `Football City'. Which just goes to show that the Church is equally out of touch with reality.

REV GRAHAM BEARDSLEY

Holy Spirit Vicarage, Liverpool

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