Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Viewpoint: Sky brings a new dawn

There was, it's fair to say, a degree of apprehension when Sky announced its virtual takeover of live local football.

There was, it's fair to say, a degree of apprehension when Sky announced its virtual takeover of live local football.

Fans who didn't already subscribe to Sky Sports felt in danger of being left either out of pocket or out of the game. Traditionalists feared the sudden appearance of big bucks would change the character of local soccer.

And broadcasters at BBC Northern Ireland were bitterly disappointed at being excluded after years of commitment (even if other media organisations stifled a chuckle as the Beeb was forced to swallow a dose of its own medicine).

Sky has now broadcast both Northern Ireland games and its first Irish League match, so now is the time to take stock.

So far, Sky's input has been positive and effective. True to promise, the satellite broadcaster has devoted impressive resources to its live broadcasts, including improved floodlighting at Monday's Linfield v Cliftonville clash at the cost of £14,000.

On live TV, Monday's game looked sharp, exciting and full of promise. Despite a small amount of dubious chanting, both Linfield and Cliftonville also won praise for their pre-match anti-sectarian initiatives.

The deal will see financial boosts for both local football and the Northern Ireland team. It's early days yet, but, hopefully, we will all win.

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