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Old 27th September 2005, 15:36   #1
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Default 700 Live Games; So How Much Football Do You Think There Is On Tv?

700 Live Games; So How Much Football Do You Think There Is On Tv?
Harry Harris The Express
September 27, 2005

IS THERE too much football on TV? As clubs fret about putting bums on seats and concern grows about whether football is attractive enough, I can reveal that this season alone there will be an astonishing 700 live games flooding our TV screens.
Premier League club chairmen are meeting in a fortnight to discuss their TV contract renewal. Little wonder that they are worried about their falling gates and they have pinpointed saturation coverage of live matches as a major factor.

A Daily Express survey reveals the magnitude of coverage on a variety of stations.

Sky Sports alone will screen 450 live games this season, ranging from Premiership games and Champions League ties to Under-21 and women's matches.
In addition, their "as live" innovation on Saturday evenings - Football First - has a growing audience and might be deterring travelling fans from going to away games.
The BBC have 16 live FA Cup ties and internationals; ITV live Champions League ties; Eurosport screen a wide range of matches and Bravo are now screening Italy's Serie A, with Sky showing La Liga, and even Belgian and German football is available.
Finally there will be 40 live World Cup games from the finals in Germany next summer, which will result in a record number of live matches this season.
A TV insider said: "Many Champions League live games are shown simultaneously on Sky so the viewer can't actually see every match live.
"There will be between 600 and 700 live games, taking every game from every channel into account.
"It is easy to point a finger at TV and accuse the large number of matches as a reason for falling gates, but it isn't just the fault of TV.
"No one is going to watch all these games, it is a question of choice and the viewer now has a wide choice, certainly compared to the days when only a few of the big clubs were shown and coverage didn't even start until November." Compare the 700 live matches this season to the early days of live coverage when there were five games a season on the BBC on Friday nights and five live games on ITV on Sundays back in 1983.
At the formation of the Premier League, 60 games were live through the first five-year and then four-year contracts.
Next, there were 66 live and 40 pay-per-view games as the value soared to the 1billion mark for a three-year contract, and that value has only been maintained by increasing the number of live games - now it is 88 and 50 on pay per view. Club chairmen want to bring down the level of live games, starting with the renegotiation of the Premier League's next three-year period with tender documents dispatched in March and contracts signed at the end of this season.
A Premier League insider said: "I have been saying for some time that too many games will eventually hurt attendances, but the European Commission's biggest beef is that there are not enough games.
"They want more games and a wider audience for them. That is a cornerstone of their policy and they will not put up with us trying to restrict the output of live games."
At the same Premier League meeting the chairmen will decide whether to take the EC to court with the future funding of every club at stake.
Ever since the Premier League was formed in 1992 the mountain of Sky TV cash has underpinned the clubs' ability to attract the top players from around the world.
For the first time, there is a very real threat to dismantle Sky's monopoly to such an extent that the revenue from TV will collapse. The Premier League have written to MEPs to criticise the "unfair" interference from Brussels, who want to restrict Sky to just a 50 per cent share of the "live" cake. They have ruled the present process is anti-competitive.
Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, feels that they are being unfairly treated by the Commission compared with other European leagues, citing the sale of exclusive French league rights to Canal Plus last December. "Neither the French regulator nor the Commission have objected, " he said.
Scudamore is also part of the Premier League's Attendance Working Group, which has been tasked with addressing the concern over falling gates, although they have yet to agree on a solution.
Two of the six-man committee, Blackburn chairman John Williams and Charlton chief executive Peter Varney, would like a ceiling on ticket prices, perhaps as low as 30.
But it is unlikely that the three other members, Chelsea's Peter Kenyon, Manchester United chief executive David Gill and Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman will stand for that.

KEN BATES and his wife Suzannah are cruising in the Med and docked in Dubrovnic to discover that Roman Abramovich's yacht Polaris was berthed behind them.
The Leeds chairman invited the Chelsea owner aboard for cocktails but a polite message came back that he was "away for the day". Bates wanted to speak with Abramovich for the first time since he walked out at the Bridge, sued the club and finally settled out of court, but Abramovich does not appear ready to let bygones be bygones
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