Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Appeal for Old Firm fans to be considered in new TV rights deal

Old Firm fans' chiefs united to appeal for consideration to be given to paying customers if and when the Scottish Premier League sign a new television deal.

After pulling the plug on the now-defunct Setanta for failing to make their outstanding payment of £3million, the SPL are searching for a new broadcasting partner ahead of the new season which starts on August 15.

Sky TV and American broadcaster ESPN are reported to be interested but whoever fills the breach is likely to use games involving either Rangers and Celtic to maximise potential viewing figures.

Setanta showed SPL games at 12.30pm on a Saturday and 2pm on a Sunday while under a previous contract Sky screened games on a Sunday at 6.05 pm but there are fears that Scottish fans, especially Old Firm fans, will face more changes to kick-off times.

Peter Rafferty, from the Association of Celtic Supporters' Clubs, is looking for fans to be consulted before any decisions are made.

He told PA Sport: "Football must be the only business in the world which does not consult with the people who support it.

"I can't think of any other industry that does that.

"We have got used to games being changed at short notice and some at shorter notice than others.

"But it has to recognised that not all fans are local, some have to plan long journeys in advance for games.

"That has to be reviewed by whichever company wins the rights.

"And I wouldn't want to go back to Sunday kick-off at six o'clock either, I think that is a no-no.

"So hopefully there will be some consultation with the supporters."

David Edgar, from the Rangers Supporters Trust, concurred with Rafferty.

He told PA Sport: "Whoever takes the SPL games on, it is likely that we will be a side-salad for the English Premier League games and if they want to show the games on a Thursday night, or a Sunday morning, then do they expect us to believe that is not going to happen?

"The only people to lose out will be the fans and we are sick of it.

"Once again, we are the last people to be considered.

"We are just expected to turn up and pay our money but I think they might have found that they have gone to the well once too often.

"I've spoken to fans from all over the country and they are angry and so I would be very careful when negotiating kick-off times.

"We've lurched from one crisis to another and it's times to consider the fans."

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