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ITV Woos Football League

By: Tony Hamilton
Date: 06/10/2002

THE Football League is on the verge of signing a new contract with the terrestrial TV station ITV shortly after haven taken them to court - and lost.

The news comes just six months after ITV's two largest constituent companies, Carlton and Granada, pulled out of a £315m deal with the League, who had acquired the television rights to the League's games via the now defunct ITV Digital.

A report in a Sunday newspaper states that the new contract is worth a tiny £5m over two years and is for a highlights package only. Many of the league's 72 clubs face stringent financial challenges after being crippled by the collapse of the DTT operator, up to 50% of their revenue in some cases. Nevertheless, in a vote last week, more than 50% of the League's chairmen backed the deal over a rival joint bid from the BBC and Channel Five.

The contract will be formally signed in the next "two to three days," with highlights returning to the terrestrial channel as soon as October 19.

The BBC/five offer was worth around £650,000 per year over four years, which was such a small amount it would have cost clubs more money than they would have received had they accepted it.

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