Fans hoping to watch England’s World Cup qualifier away to Ukraine this coming weekend on TV are to be disappointed as the game is to be shown only on the internet with supporters being asked to pay a minimum of £5 to view it.
Kentaro – an international agency appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation – originally sold the UK rights for the game to Setanta. But after the pay-TV firm collapsed, digital sport specialist Perform was appointed to stream the match online. It will be the first time ever that UK viewers will have been denied the chance to watch England live on TV.
It’s been reported that none of the traditional television broadcasters with an interest in football including ITV, BBC and SKY were willing to pay the asking price to screen the game.
Instead, the match will be available on the site ukraineversusengland.com and viewers will be able to subscribe to it using PayPal, the electronic payment service. Kentaro are promising a ‘top commentary team’ and a studio panel which will include former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Peter Silverstone, managing director of Kentaro said:
You will watch as you would any other streaming on the internet, like YouTube or the BBC iPlayer – there will be a pop-up player that will show the match in a very good quality stream.
We have a huge marketing effort behind us with the various newspaper groups that will promote the match on their websites.
Commercially this will work and genuinely offers an exciting opportunity for us. We wouldn’t embark on this project if we didn’t feel it had strategic long-term value, this isn’t a one-off shot.
However, it seems that the FA aren’t completely bowled over by the idea of a the national team only being available to view on a PC or laptop. Football Association spokesman Adrian Bevington admitted:
We would obviously like to see the game broadcast to as many people as possible.
These are the rights of the Ukrainian FA and the agents they’ve appointed to sell them.
A traditional TV platform would be ideal to broadcast the game but it’s not the case. It’s not in our control.
England squad for World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and Belarus:
Goalkeepers: Paul Robinson (Blackburn), Robert Green (West Ham), David James (Portsmouth)
Defenders: Ashley Cole (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Wayne Bridge (Manchester City), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Matthew Upson (West Ham)
Midfielders: James Milner (Aston Villa), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham); Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
Strikers: Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Carlton Cole (West Ham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)