Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Northern Ireland fans can reach for the Sky again with new TV deal

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is dejected after being defeated by Israel in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is dejected after being defeated by Israel in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill has avoided a June qualifier
Michael O'Neill has avoided a June qualifier

Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup qualifiers, home and away, will ALL be screened live by Sky Sports.

It is good news for Northern Ireland supporters, especially those unable to attend games, as they will be available to watch on television.

This deal is part of a package agreed between Uefa and Sky Sports and should bring substantial revenue to the Irish FA, who first secured a £10m contract over four years with the broadcaster back in 2007.

Prior to then BBC Northern Ireland had the rights to show Northern Ireland games live, but have had to make do with highlights since.

Announcing details of the agreement, Sky revealed that they will also screen the Republic of Ireland's home and away Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup qualifiers live. Scotland and Wales will be given the same treatment along with other countries in Europe.

Sky Sports will show highlights of every England qualifying match for the those tournaments and live away matches should they play any of the other home nations, such as Northern Ireland.

The bosses at Sky would love that. Ditto the IFA who even with a new 18,000 all-seater Windsor Park could fill the stadium 10 times over for such a fixture.

Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said: "Both the Uefa European Championship and Fifa World Cup are football's most important international tournaments and this deal offers Sky Sports viewers the complete qualification story."

Next season Sky Sports will show 116 fixtures from the Barclays Premier League plus over 120 Champions League fixtures.

This announcement comes just a few days after BT Sport laid down a challenge to their rivals at Sky by revealing that all BT Broadbrand customers will be able to watch Premier League games next season free of charge.

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