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League To Demonstrate Against Granada/Carlton!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 13/06/2002

THE Football League have released a statement announcing their plans for a campaign of direct action against Carlton and Granada, the joint owners of ITV Digital.

The campaign is called 'Save our Clubs' and aims to harness the anger felt by both clubs and fans at the actions of the two companies in failing to honour the outstanding £178.5m owed to Football League clubs.

The campaign will build up to the beginning of The Football League's court action against Carlton and Granada on July 26 with the highlight being a protest by all 72 League Chairmen outside the London offices of both companies on July 10.

The protest will be followed by 12 days of protest outside the same offices by League clubs, with 6 clubs designated to protest on each day. The campaign will also feature lobbying of MP's and petitioning of supporters.

In launching the campaign Football League Chairman Keith Harris said: "We remain appalled that two corporate giants like Carlton and Granada can be allowed to cause such catastrophic damage to our national sport in the selfish pursuit of their own interests.

"We have made numerous attempts to negotiate with Carlton and Granada only to be rejected on each occasion. Our patience is now at an end and we will turn up on July 10 and wait, as a united body of chairmen, for Michael Green and Charles Allen to have the common decency to acknowledge our case."

  • In June 2000 The Football League agreed a £315m television agreement with ITV Digital (then ONdigital). The deal was negotiated in good faith in a competitive environment and reflected the market value for League rights at that point in time.

  • During the negotiation process ITV Digital tendered a bid document, which under the heading 'Financial Arrangements' read: 'ONdigital and its shareholders will guarantee all funding to the FL…'.

    The Football League has fully delivered on its side of the contract.

  • In March 2002 Carlton Communications and Granada, the co-owners of ITV Digital, placed the company into administration and attempted to walk away from the liabilities of their joint venture, including £178.5m owed to The Football League. This action was taken despite numerous statements made to The Football League, its clubs and the City that ITV digital was on track and would continue to meet its obligations 'as and when they fell due'. The two companies have claimed that they have no responsibility for ITV Digital's obligations despite the wording of their initial bid document.

  • Contrary to what has been leaked to the media The Football League has never received a formal offer from Carlton and Granada. On 17 April 2002 at 4.50pm, the day before a meeting of all clubs at Maine Road, Clifford Chance, the legal representatives of the administrators wrote 'we confirm that there is no proposal available to put to Member Clubs…Should the shareholders inform us of a change in their position we will let you know as soon as possible.' To date, there has been no change in this position.

  • Numerous attempts by Football League officials and advisors to re-open discussions with Carlton and Granada have been met by a blanket refusal to negotiate. In fact, the last scheduled meeting was cancelled, in farcical circumstances, by Carlton and Granada just twenty minutes before it was due to begin.

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