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BT Sport to televise Manchester City and Manchester United FA Cup ties

11 December 2013 17:50:46 mirror - Sport

BT Sport have announced a trio of fixtures that will hit your screens on the first weekend of 2014

Vice Sport Time11 December 2013 17:50:46


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Technical issue hits BT Sport app

17 August 2013 16:04:15 BBC News - UK

Some BT Sport customers complain of problems with the new broadcaster's mobile app, as it airs its first live Premier League match.

Vice All News Time17 August 2013 16:04:15


BT Sport finds a way past Sky Sports' advertising restriction

29 July 2013 16:54:34 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh sign shirt deal with BT Sport • Scottish Rugby Union hints at more money for both clubs BT Sport has found a way past Sky Sports' ban on screening its rival broadcaster's adverts by signing a four-year shirt sponsorship deal with two of the teams Sky has signed up to televise. Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby have agreed a "substantial multi-million pound" contract that will mean both clubs will sport BT's logo on their shirts. The Scottish sides compete in the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup competitions. Sky will screen Heineken Cup games from October this year and matches from the RaboDirect Pro12 from 2014. The announcement of the deal follows an Ofcom ruling in June that rejected BT's complaints over Sky's refusal to promote its new rivals on its own channels. BT will launch three channels this week, broadcasting live football from the Barclays Premier League in England and Scotland's newly formed Scottish Premiership. Its rugby content includes Aviva Premiership matches and France's Top 14 – but it will not screen games involving the two sides it has just signed up to sponsor. However, Marc Watson, chief executive of TV for BT Retail, claims that could change in the future. When asked if the deal with Edinburgh and Glasgow was a ploy to get around Sky's ban, he said: "When you are looking at a sponsorship arrangement, one of the things you look at is who is going to see your logo, your brand. The audience that follows Scottish rugby is an important audience for us to reach. "The RaboDirect [Pro 12] will be covered by Sky and other broadcasters too in the next few years and that broadcaster exposure is one of the elements – but not the only one – in what is quite a broad deal with Scottish Rugby. "We launch three channels later this week and it's a major strategic objective of the company to establish those channels and to make them a success. As we are launching those channels into the marketplace it seems an obvious thing to use this deal to help promote those channels. "This is a sponsorship deal, not a broadcasting deal. We will look in the future at all opportunities to broadcast sports as they come up and if an opportunity comes up to broadcast [the Scottish] rugby teams then of course we will look at it. "For the rugby fan, we believe we [already] have a lot that is attractive and that is appealing." Mark Dodson, chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union – which owns both Edinburgh and Glasgow – hinted the deal would result in extra money being made available to strengthen both squads. He said: "This is the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal we have ever signed – by some margin. It dwarfs any deal we have signed in the past. "We will always be looking for the best players possible. If that means the player budget rises as a consequence, that is what will happen. "I've given both coaches [Gregor Townsend and Stevie Scott] the reassurance that if there is a top-class player out there that they want, who wants to come to Scotland, we will fund it." Rugby union Glasgow Rugby Edinburgh Rugby BT Sport Sky Sports BSkyB Television industry © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions        

Vice All News Time29 July 2013 16:54:34


BT Sport's Premier League plans fail to lift subscriber growth rate

25 July 2013 10:09:12 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Telecoms giant signs up just 23,000 TV subscribers in second quarter compared with 160,000 for budget pay-TV rival TalkTalk BT has so far failed to get the public to switch on to its promise of Premier League football, adding just 23,000 TV subscribers in the three months to 30 June. The company will be concerned that the rate of growth of new subscribers has slumped by almost 43% – it signed up 40,000 subscribers in the previous quarter – despite running a star-studded multimillion-pound ad campaign to entice new customers to its TV service. It spent about £1bn on the rights to 38 Premier League matches each season. BT will be concerned that the budget pay-TV service of arch-rival TalkTalk managed to sign up 160,000 customers in the three months to the end of June. TalkTalk, which maintains that its model proves there is no need to pay hundreds of millions of pounds for expensive sports rights to win customers, is already close to half the size of BT, with 390,000 TV customers despite launching just nine months. BT has a total TV base of 833,000 subscribers. The company attempted pointed out that more than 500,000 households have now ordered BT Sport, the channels which will air content including Premier League football. However, BT admitted that this is "mostly" existing customers who have taken the channels for free as part of re-contracting their BT broadband service. "BT Sport has proved popular with our customers," the company said. "We expect the proportion of new customers to increase after we launch the channels on 1 August," the company said. The channels aren't live yet and the Premiership season doesn't begin until 17 August, so this is a strong start." Andrew Hogley, a telecoms analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, said that there was no expectation in the market that BT would add a huge number of new TV customers at this stage. "On TV we weren't expecting any pick up in adds this quarter, should start to ramp from [BT's] second quarter," said Hogley. "The 550,000 pre-orders for sports [channels] looks OK – we will see what happens next week when ESPN goes off air." BT said that it has spent £40m on BT Sport's "pre-launch costs" in the quarter, which will include setting up its top-end studio facility in the former broadcasting centre in the Olympic Park in east London. The telecoms giant added 95,000 broadband customers in the quarter; TalkTalk reported on Wednesday that it managed to sign up 22,000. Overall, BT reported a 1% fall in revenues to £4.44bn in the quarter, with profit before tax falling 16% to £449m. • To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication". • To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook BT Sport Sports rights Television industry BT Telecommunications industry Premier League Mark Sweney guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time25 July 2013 10:09:12


BT Sport's Premier League plans fail to lift subscriber growth rate

25 July 2013 10:01:40 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Telecoms giant signs up just 23,000 TV subscribers in second quarter compared with 160,000 for budget pay-TV rival TalkTalk BT has so far failed to get the public to switch on to its promise of Premier League football, adding just 23,000 TV subscribers in the three months to 30 June. The company will be concerned that the rate of growth of new subscribers has slumped by almost 43% – it signed up 40,000 subscribers in the previous quarter – despite running a star-studded multimillion-pound ad campaign to entice new customers to its TV service. It spent about £1bn on the rights to 38 Premier League matches each season. BT will be concerned that the budget pay-TV service of arch-rival TalkTalk managed to sign up 160,000 customers in the three months to the end of June. TalkTalk, which maintains that its model proves there is no need to pay hundreds of millions of pounds for expensive sports rights to win customers, is already close to half the size of BT, with 390,000 TV customers despite launching just nine months. BT has a total TV base of 833,000 subscribers. The company attempted pointed out that more than 500,000 households have now ordered BT Sport, the channels which will air content including Premier League football. However, BT admitted that this is "mostly" existing customers who have taken the channels for free as part of re-contracting their BT broadband service. "BT Sport has proved popular with our customers," the company said. "We expect the proportion of new customers to increase after we launch the channels on 1 August," the company said. The channels aren't live yet and the Premiership season doesn't begin until 17 August, so this is a strong start." Andrew Hogley, a telecoms analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, said that there was no expectation in the market that BT would add a huge number of new TV customers at this stage. "On TV we weren't expecting any pick up in adds this quarter, should start to ramp from [BT's] second quarter," said Hogley. "The 550,000 pre-orders for sports [channels] looks OK – we will see what happens next week when ESPN goes off air." BT said that it has spent £40m on BT Sport's "pre-launch costs" in the quarter, which will include setting up its top-end studio facility in the former broadcasting centre in the Olympic Park in east London. The telecoms giant added 95,000 broadband customers in the quarter; TalkTalk reported on Wednesday that it managed to sign up 22,000. Overall, BT reported a 1% fall in revenues to £4.44bn in the quarter, with profit before tax falling 16% to £449m. • To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication". • To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook BT Sport Sports rights Television industry BT Telecommunications industry Premier League Mark Sweney guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time25 July 2013 10:01:40


Greg Dyke confident for future after £200m FA Cup deal with BBC and BT

18 July 2013 04:13:17 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• New FA chairman keen to shake up organisation and test ideas • Deal has put the FA Cup 'back where it belongs', say BBC Greg Dyke, the new Football Association chairman, has said he will not be afraid to "throw a few bombs" in his role as he unveiled a new broadcasting rights deal for the FA Cup worth more than £200m that will provide a degree of financial security to his tenure. Under the contract, which runs for four years from 2014-15, FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches. Dyke confirmed that meant the FA Cup final will move permanently to the a 5.15pm kick off. That late afternoon start time has proved controversial over the past two seasons, particularly this year when there were issues over transport. "I know there are some people in the FA who think that was the betrayal of a tradition but the world changed and you have to accept it," said Dyke. "The increase in the audience over those two years has been so marked. What are we here for? We're here for people to watch football and enjoy it." The FA's aggregate income for the FA Cup and England's home matches over four years is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the £425m paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. Between them, the BBC and BT are believed to be paying significantly more than the £60m a year ESPN and ITV ended up agreeing over the past two years after Setanta went bust. BT is believed to be paying around £25m a year for its share of the package, which includes more games but no first-pick matches. The BBC's pitch included a promise to make the most of its regional, radio and digital resources to promote the FA Cup. "The BBC put in the highest bid, so they got it. But they also put in a very good pitch about what they could do across all their outlets. We're their only live football so they'll help us promote the FA Cup across their outlets, which is what we wanted," said Dyke. The BBC director general Tony Hall said the deal had put the FA Cup "back where it belongs" on the BBC, which will have first pick of the best matches in each round. "When you poll licence fee payers they say they want the big events to be on the BBC. The FA Cup is one of those big national moments. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever," he said. Dyke's predecessor at the FA, David Bernstein, was consensual in style and brought stability to the organisation but left frustrated by his inability to drive through changes to the FA's structure. In his first interview since starting the job, Dyke said he came into the role with no preconceptions about the structural issues and political rows between the professional and amateur game that have hobbled his predecessors. "I'm one of those people who thinks everything is going to be fine. Make up your mind, decide what you're going to do and do it. Then see what happens. I was asked that question in my interview and I said exactly the same thing," said Dyke, who will immediately face pressing questions about the strength of English football following disappointing performances this summer from the under-20 and under-21 sides . "I've never been one for subtlety. There's a list of ideas and you test the ideas. My theory of management has always been to throw bombs among groups of people. I've no objection if they then say to me it's ridiculous and can't be done," added the former Manchester United director and Brentford chairman. "The job of the chairman is to give the staff confidence to come up with good ideas. The FA is here for the best interests of the game. It's here to do a range of things and I'll expand on that in some speeches over the first six months. In any organisation you've got to have priorities – what are the five things you want to do? And then you get buy in." Dyke said he had known Anthony Fry, the new Premier League chairman, for a long time and that their relationship would benefit both organisations. "I think financial fair play is a good idea," added Dyke, who formally became chairman at the weekend. "But we've now got six different versions of it and what I'm trying to do is get my head around it. What you want to try and work out is which is the most effective." Dyke said that in contrast to when he began at a demoralised BBC, where there was "a very unhappy staff who hadn't liked my predecessor" he was "amazed" that the FA was such a "smiley, happy place". It will be intriguing to see how long that view lasts. The FA FA Cup Greg Dyke Business BBC BT Sport Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds      

Vice All News Time18 July 2013 04:13:17


BBC and BT Sport to share FA Cup TV rights

18 July 2013 04:12:08 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

• Contest to return to BBC in four-year deal from 2014/15 • ITV retains the rights to England's home matches The world's oldest knockout cup competition is to return to the BBC after an absence of seven years, as part of a deal for the FA Cup in which it will share the rights with new entrant BT Sport. The contract, which runs for four years from 2014/15, means that FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches. Added together, the FA's income for the FA Cup and England's home matches is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the £425m paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. Director general Tony Hall said the deal had put the FA Cup "back where it belongs" on the BBC, which will have first pick of the best matches in each round. "What has interested me in my first few months here are the lessons of the Olympics in how you bring all the services around the big event, whether that be Wimbledon or Glastonbury," said Hall. "When you poll licence fee payers they say they want the big events to be on the BBC. The FA Cup is one of those big national moments. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever." BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "BT Sport made a determined joint bid to retain the FA Cup rights because we believe it is one of the truly great club football competitions." When ITV chairman Michael Grade engineered a £425m coup with now defunct pay TV broadcaster Setanta to snatch the rights from the BBC and Sky in 2007, it caused fury at the BBC. But ITV later had to admit it had overpaid, while Setanta went bust. The BBC has only now returned to the table and the emergence of BT Sport as a serious challenger to Sky allowed the Football Association to engineer a more competitive auction this time around. The difficulties surrounding the broadcast rights for the FA Cup – when Setanta went under ESPN stepped in, only to exit the market itself when it lost its Premier League package – have compounded the issues involved in maintaining its relevancy. The FA has periodically considered radical changes to the FA Cup format but claimed last season that more subtle moves, including the controversial decision to kick off the final at 5.15pm, had helped reinvigorate it. The teatime kick-off is likely to stay under the new deal. In a twist of fate, the unveiling of the new TV rights deal was the first official public event for new FA chairman Greg Dyke, a former BBC director general. Although he had little to do with the negotiations, when he was at the BBC he was vocal about the need for it to bid for major sporting events. The FA Cup rights were split from the England matches for the first as a result of Uefa's decision to sell the rights for competitive qualifying matches centrally. ITV agreed a £100m deal to cover England's competitive home internationals live until 2018 earlier this year. "What's interesting from our audience research is that they expect the big events to be on the BBC. But not at any price – which is why the BT element of the deal is important," said Hall. Gary Lineker, the Match of the Day presenter who is likely to host the BBC's FA Cup coverage, said the BBC's recapture of the rights would be broadly welcomed by licence fee payers. "It's right for the BBC to try its best, in difficult times when you going up against operators, to bid for what it can," he said. "The BBC has consistently shown what it can do for sport over a long period of time. The Open, Wimbledon, World Cups, European Championships. We'll do this competition justice." Lineker also hit back at critics of Match of the Day's style. "It's still hugely popular, hugely watched and our figures continue to rise season on season. That's where your answer lies. Our graphics are state of the art, we're always looking at ways of doing it differently," he said. "The only criticism we tend to get is that there's not enough analysis – but if we started showing analysis instead of action, we have to get the right balance. We've got good people, great pundits and we're looking at bringing new people in all the time. In terms of pundits, it's a nightmare job – one man's pundit is another man's poison. You either love them or hate them." BBC BT Sport Sports rights Television industry FA Cup Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time18 July 2013 04:12:08


Dyke delight in FA's £200m TV deal

18 July 2013 04:12:07 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

• New FA chairman keen to shake up organisation and test ideas • Deal has put the FA Cup 'back where it belongs', say BBC Greg Dyke, the new Football Association chairman, has said he will not be afraid to "throw a few bombs" in his role as he unveiled a new broadcasting rights deal for the FA Cup worth more than £200m that will provide a degree of financial security to his tenure. Under the contract, which runs for four years from 2014-15, FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches. Dyke confirmed that meant the FA Cup final will move permanently to the a 5.15pm kick off. That late afternoon start time has proved controversial over the past two seasons, particularly this year when there were issues over transport. "I know there are some people in the FA who think that was the betrayal of a tradition but the world changed and you have to accept it," said Dyke. "The increase in the audience over those two years has been so marked. What are we here for? We're here for people to watch football and enjoy it." The FA's aggregate income for the FA Cup and England's home matches over four years is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the £425m paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. Between them, the BBC and BT are believed to be paying significantly more than the £60m a year ESPN and ITV ended up agreeing over the past two years after Setanta went bust. BT is believed to be paying around £25m a year for its share of the package, which includes more games but no first-pick matches. The BBC's pitch included a promise to make the most of its regional, radio and digital resources to promote the FA Cup. "The BBC put in the highest bid, so they got it. But they also put in a very good pitch about what they could do across all their outlets. We're their only live football so they'll help us promote the FA Cup across their outlets, which is what we wanted," said Dyke. The BBC director general Tony Hall said the deal had put the FA Cup "back where it belongs" on the BBC, which will have first pick of the best matches in each round. "When you poll licence fee payers they say they want the big events to be on the BBC. The FA Cup is one of those big national moments. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever," he said. Dyke's predecessor at the FA, David Bernstein, was consensual in style and brought stability to the organisation but left frustrated by his inability to drive through changes to the FA's structure. In his first interview since starting the job, Dyke said he came into the role with no preconceptions about the structural issues and political rows between the professional and amateur game that have hobbled his predecessors. "I'm one of those people who thinks everything is going to be fine. Make up your mind, decide what you're going to do and do it. Then see what happens. I was asked that question in my interview and I said exactly the same thing," said Dyke, who will immediately face pressing questions about the strength of English football following disappointing performances this summer from the under-20 and under-21 sides . "I've never been one for subtlety. There's a list of ideas and you test the ideas. My theory of management has always been to throw bombs among groups of people. I've no objection if they then say to me it's ridiculous and can't be done," added the former Manchester United director and Brentford chairman. "The job of the chairman is to give the staff confidence to come up with good ideas. The FA is here for the best interests of the game. It's here to do a range of things and I'll expand on that in some speeches over the first six months. In any organisation you've got to have priorities – what are the five things you want to do? And then you get buy in." Dyke said he had known Anthony Fry, the new Premier League chairman, for a long time and that their relationship would benefit both organisations. "I think financial fair play is a good idea," added Dyke, who formally became chairman at the weekend. "But we've now got six different versions of it and what I'm trying to do is get my head around it. What you want to try and work out is which is the most effective." Dyke said that in contrast to when he began at a demoralised BBC, where there was "a very unhappy staff who hadn't liked my predecessor" he was "amazed" that the FA was such a "smiley, happy place". It will be intriguing to see how long that view lasts. The FA FA Cup Greg Dyke Business BBC BT Sport Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time18 July 2013 04:12:07


BT looking for a Premier League buzz in broadcasting battle with Sky

13 July 2013 23:14:50 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

The new Premier League football broadcaster has unveiled its new studio, talent and intent as it prepares to go to air We're not quite in Rafa Benítez territory, but the battle between Sky Sports and BT Sport is turning as acrimonious as some of the storylines both hope will emerge during the new Premier League season. The high-profile entrance into the market of a deep-pocketed rival to Sky Sports, which has driven the growth of the Premier League and revolutionised sports broadcasting over the past two decades, has raised the stakes for both. On one side of London, towards the M4, Sky is preparing for the season in new studios with an overhauled schedule and new signings, including Jamie Carragher . In the east, at the Olympic Park, BT is putting the finishing touches to vast studios from where its three sports channels will go live on 1 August. The phoney war, which has spanned an escalating PR battle and an advertising blitz from both sides, is almost over. Now BT must match its ambitious rhetoric with reality. Its new studios are housed in the cavernous former Olympic broadcasting centre and include a replica of a football pitch on which pundits including Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves will illuminate the action. They threw open their doors on Monday when Jake Humphrey and his new colleagues began rehearsals. Inside the huge 14,000 sq ft studio, which has been built in record time and to which the Observer was granted exclusive access, a central hub covered in dot matrix screens is the defining feature. The largest plate-glass windows in Europe offer a view into the gallery, while graphics for Clare Balding's show and for Danny Baker and Danny Kelly's weekly programme are displayed on the screens. But the eye is drawn to the full-size goal and hi-tech floor that can display a range of lighting configurations. "It's a blank canvas. The football and the rugby guys are already very excited about what they could do with this space," says BT Sport director Simon Green . Green got the idea for the large, open-plan studio, which will allow viewers to catch glimpses of what is going out on the other BT Sport channels as cameras swoop around, from a broadcaster in Kiev. It will, he says, make the channel feel very different from previous pretenders to Sky's throne. "We're more personality led. We feel we've got a core of presenters who viewers will really enjoy," says Green. "Without getting personal, the presentation of football hasn't come on a huge amount in the last 15 years. We think we'll bring something different." Des Kelly, a journalist who will present a nightly live show that mixes sports news with opinion, entertainment and celebrity guests, said the studios were "like something out of Blade Runner ". Besides the Premier League, BT will air football from around Europe, Premiership rubgy, the FA Cup, WTA tennis, MotoGP, Ultimate Fighting and a range of other sports. It is available free to BT broadband subscribers, but costs £10 a month for non-subscribers. Sky, for its part, has affected nonchalance and has been keen to emphasise the breadth and depth of its offering – it will still show 116 live top-flight matches to BT's 38. Yet Humphrey and the executives who hired him to open up a new flank in BT's broader battle with BSkyB for broadband and television subscibers have been bullish about their prospects. "BT Sport are different to what's gone before, they present a serious challenge. We're the new noisy neighbours, the Man City, so it's natural Sky want to protect their dominant position," says Kelly. BT has argued that Sky's coverage is "cold", promising to bring a new vitality and accessibility. Balding will host a weekly interview show and BT has vowed to bring the inclusiveness of the BBC's Olympics coverage to its channels. "We don't want to be Sky Sports. It is great at what it does. We're much more personality led. We want to be wider and more accessible," said Green. Sky, fiercely proud of its comprehensive coverage and reputation for innovation, has been withering in public and scathing in private about its new rival. The simmering enmity exploded on Thursday when the two broadcasters unveiled their first tranche of live matches for the opening weeks of the season. Sky Sports has bagged the managerial debuts of David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, plus the second coming of José Mourinho, on the opening weekend. Their managing director, Barney Francis, said that contrary to BT's advertising strapline, its lineup of matches showed it was no "game changer" – the implication being that for all its big talk, BT offered little different to other former rivals such as Setanta and ESPN. BT Vision's chief executive Marc Watson hit back, saying the criticism, and a strategy he claimed was designed to "block" BT in the early part of the season, showed that Sky was deeply worried. "They've spent most of their time talking about us. I think they're pretty rattled. I know they're obsessed by us but we're not obsessed by them. We're obsessed by creating some great channels," he said. Asked what he thought of Sky's new Saturday schedule, which will segue from its Football League lunchtime match, to Soccer Saturday, to its new regular teatime live Premier League game and then Football First in front of a studio audience, Watson said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Sky might say the same about some of the BT Sport schedule, particularly the decision to hire Tim Lovejoy to front a light-hearted Saturday morning show. BT had already announced plans for the former BBC F1 frontman Humphrey to anchor a programme in front of an audience to try to retain viewers throughout the day. Now Green says BT may not use a Top Gear -style audience after all. But whether it has enough high-quality content to convince avid fans they need it in addition to Sky, or casual fans to switch to BT Broadband, is the billion-pound question. BT has already invested well over that figure in getting the channels up and running, including acquiring the UK assets of ESPN . It is understood to be hopeful of adding a four-year contract for the FA Cup, perhaps in conjunction with the BBC, to its portfolio from 2014. BT has also spent a small fortune signing up ambassadors such as Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie, who will play as yet undefin

Vice All News Time13 July 2013 23:14:50


BT looking for a Premier League buzz in broadcasting battle with Sky

13 July 2013 23:09:05 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

The new Premier League football broadcaster has unveiled its new studio, talent and intent as it prepares to go to air We're not quite in Rafa Benítez territory, but the battle between Sky Sports and BT Sport is turning as acrimonious as some of the storylines both hope will emerge during the new Premier League season. The high-profile entrance into the market of a deep-pocketed rival to Sky Sports, which has driven the growth of the Premier League and revolutionised sports broadcasting over the past two decades, has raised the stakes for both. On one side of London, towards the M4, Sky is preparing for the season in new studios with an overhauled schedule and new signings, including Jamie Carragher . In the east, at the Olympic Park, BT is putting the finishing touches to vast studios from where its three sports channels will go live on 1 August. The phoney war, which has spanned an escalating PR battle and an advertising blitz from both sides, is almost over. Now BT must match its ambitious rhetoric with reality. Its new studios are housed in the cavernous former Olympic broadcasting centre and include a replica of a football pitch on which pundits including Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves will illuminate the action. They threw open their doors on Monday when Jake Humphrey and his new colleagues began rehearsals. Inside the huge 14,000 sq ft studio, which has been built in record time and to which the Observer was granted exclusive access, a central hub covered in dot matrix screens is the defining feature. The largest plate-glass windows in Europe offer a view into the gallery, while graphics for Clare Balding's show and for Danny Baker and Danny Kelly's weekly programme are displayed on the screens. But the eye is drawn to the full-size goal and hi-tech floor that can display a range of lighting configurations. "It's a blank canvas. The football and the rugby guys are already very excited about what they could do with this space," says BT Sport director Simon Green . Green got the idea for the large, open-plan studio, which will allow viewers to catch glimpses of what is going out on the other BT Sport channels as cameras swoop around, from a broadcaster in Kiev. It will, he says, make the channel feel very different from previous pretenders to Sky's throne. "We're more personality led. We feel we've got a core of presenters who viewers will really enjoy," says Green. "Without getting personal, the presentation of football hasn't come on a huge amount in the last 15 years. We think we'll bring something different." Des Kelly, a journalist who will present a nightly live show that mixes sports news with opinion, entertainment and celebrity guests, said the studios were "like something out of Blade Runner ". Besides the Premier League, BT will air football from around Europe, Premiership rubgy, the FA Cup, WTA tennis, MotoGP, Ultimate Fighting and a range of other sports. It is available free to BT broadband subscribers, but costs £10 a month for non-subscribers. Sky, for its part, has affected nonchalance and has been keen to emphasise the breadth and depth of its offering – it will still show 116 live top-flight matches to BT's 38. Yet Humphrey and the executives who hired him to open up a new flank in BT's broader battle with BSkyB for broadband and television subscibers have been bullish about their prospects. "BT Sport are different to what's gone before, they present a serious challenge. We're the new noisy neighbours, the Man City, so it's natural Sky want to protect their dominant position," says Kelly. BT has argued that Sky's coverage is "cold", promising to bring a new vitality and accessibility. Balding will host a weekly interview show and BT has vowed to bring the inclusiveness of the BBC's Olympics coverage to its channels. "We don't want to be Sky Sports. It is great at what it does. We're much more personality led. We want to be wider and more accessible," said Green. Sky, fiercely proud of its comprehensive coverage and reputation for innovation, has been withering in public and scathing in private about its new rival. The simmering enmity exploded on Thursday when the two broadcasters unveiled their first tranche of live matches for the opening weeks of the season. Sky Sports has bagged the managerial debuts of David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, plus the second coming of José Mourinho, on the opening weekend. Their managing director, Barney Francis, said that contrary to BT's advertising strapline, its lineup of matches showed it was no "game changer" – the implication being that for all its big talk, BT offered little different to other former rivals such as Setanta and ESPN. BT Vision's chief executive Marc Watson hit back, saying the criticism, and a strategy he claimed was designed to "block" BT in the early part of the season, showed that Sky was deeply worried. "They've spent most of their time talking about us. I think they're pretty rattled. I know they're obsessed by us but we're not obsessed by them. We're obsessed by creating some great channels," he said. Asked what he thought of Sky's new Saturday schedule, which will segue from its Football League lunchtime match, to Soccer Saturday, to its new regular teatime live Premier League game and then Football First in front of a studio audience, Watson said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Sky might say the same about some of the BT Sport schedule, particularly the decision to hire Tim Lovejoy to front a light-hearted Saturday morning show. BT had already announced plans for the former BBC F1 frontman Humphrey to anchor a programme in front of an audience to try to retain viewers throughout the day. Now Green says BT may not use a Top Gear -style audience after all. But whether it has enough high-quality content to convince avid fans they need it in addition to Sky, or casual fans to switch to BT Broadband, is the billion-pound question. BT has already invested well over that figure in getting the channels up and running, including acquiring the UK assets of ESPN . It is understood to be hopeful of adding a four-year contract for the FA Cup, perhaps in conjunction with the BBC, to its portfolio from 2014. BT has also spent a small fortune signing up ambassadors such as Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie, who will play as yet undefin

Vice All News Time13 July 2013 23:09:05


Sky claims rights to top-four clashes as BT holds first picks in reserve

11 July 2013 16:29:16 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

• Sky has exclusive rights to every game among top four • BT Sport coverage kicks off with Liverpool v Stoke City With pointed reference to the omnipresent multimillion pound advertising campaign launched by BT Sport, Sky Sports said there was nothing "game-changing" about the initial tranche of fixtures chosen by its new rival as both unveiled their opening batch of matches. Sky has attempted to spike the guns of its new competitor by choosing the first matches of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City – all of whom have new managers – on the opening weekend of the season. BT, meanwhile, will open the campaign with Liverpool v Stoke City in its new Saturday lunchtime slot and is not able to use one of its much vaunted "first picks" until mid-September when Manchester United take onnewly promoted Crystal Palace. Sky can claim to has exclusive rights to every clash among last season's top four, plus 24 of 32 live matches involving Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal up to the beginning of December. However, BT executives insisted they were "thrilled" by the games they have secured, which include the Merseyside derby. "We have only used five of our top picks, which means that BT Sport will have another 13 throughout the remainder of the season, so our viewers have many more excellent Premier League games to come," said BT Sport director Simon Green. "In the first 13 Premier League rounds until December, we will show the biggest clubs at least twice including Tottenham taking on serious title contenders in both matches, against Manchester United and Chelsea." BT only has fourth pick of the live matches on 20 rounds of the fixture list but first pick on the other 18, making it the first broadcaster to be able to challenge Sky's claim always to show the biggest clashes. BT, which paid £738m over three years for 38 matches per season, will give its channels away free to its broadband subscribers. Sky has countered by making the opening day of its coverage available free to air for the first time, including David Moyes' first match against Swansea City at Old Trafford. In all, Sky will show 116 live matches having agreed to pay £2.3bn over three seasons for the privilege. Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis denied that its tactic of frontloading the schedule with attractive matches would give BT the advantage in the run in. Sky has 12 "first pick" weekends for the remaining 20 rounds of fixtures, while BT will be left with eight. The new entrant also has a further five "first pick" slots in midweek rounds of fixtures, but they must be used before February. Behind the complex game of chess over choosing which fixtures to broadcast, which has angered supporters' groups who claim fans have not been able to plan their travel, lies a long term battle for supremacy of the sports broadcasting landscape. "BT has made no difference to our selections, there isn't anything particularly game-changing about what we're seeing today," insisted Francis, who has hired Jamie Carragher as a pundit and revamped Sky's Saturday schedule to respond to the threat from BT, which plans a live show fronted by Jake Humphrey to run throughout the afternoon. Carragher, who will appear alongside Gary Neville on Monday Night Football, said Sky had "the best team on the best lineup of live football". Premier League Sky Sports BT Sport Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time11 July 2013 16:29:16


Sky claims rights to top-four clashes as BT holds first picks in reserve

11 July 2013 16:24:52 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• Sky has exclusive rights to every game among top four • BT Sport coverage kicks off with Liverpool v Stoke City With pointed reference to the omnipresent multimillion pound advertising campaign launched by BT Sport, Sky Sports said there was nothing "game-changing" about the initial tranche of fixtures chosen by its new rival as both unveiled their opening batch of matches. Sky has attempted to spike the guns of its new competitor by choosing the first matches of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City – all of whom have new managers – on the opening weekend of the season. BT, meanwhile, will open the campaign with Liverpool v Stoke City in its new Saturday lunchtime slot and is not able to use one of its much vaunted "first picks" until mid-September when Manchester United take onnewly promoted Crystal Palace. Sky can claim to has exclusive rights to every clash among last season's top four, plus 24 of 32 live matches involving Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal up to the beginning of December. However, BT executives insisted they were "thrilled" by the games they have secured, which include the Merseyside derby. "We have only used five of our top picks, which means that BT Sport will have another 13 throughout the remainder of the season, so our viewers have many more excellent Premier League games to come," said BT Sport director Simon Green. "In the first 13 Premier League rounds until December, we will show the biggest clubs at least twice including Tottenham taking on serious title contenders in both matches, against Manchester United and Chelsea." BT only has fourth pick of the live matches on 20 rounds of the fixture list but first pick on the other 18, making it the first broadcaster to be able to challenge Sky's claim always to show the biggest clashes. BT, which paid £738m over three years for 38 matches per season, will give its channels away free to its broadband subscribers. Sky has countered by making the opening day of its coverage available free to air for the first time, including David Moyes' first match against Swansea City at Old Trafford. In all, Sky will show 116 live matches having agreed to pay £2.3bn over three seasons for the privilege. Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis denied that its tactic of frontloading the schedule with attractive matches would give BT the advantage in the run in. Sky has 12 "first pick" weekends for the remaining 20 rounds of fixtures, while BT will be left with eight. The new entrant also has a further five "first pick" slots in midweek rounds of fixtures, but they must be used before February. Behind the complex game of chess over choosing which fixtures to broadcast, which has angered supporters' groups who claim fans have not been able to plan their travel, lies a long term battle for supremacy of the sports broadcasting landscape. "BT has made no difference to our selections, there isn't anything particularly game-changing about what we're seeing today," insisted Francis, who has hired Jamie Carragher as a pundit and revamped Sky's Saturday schedule to respond to the threat from BT, which plans a live show fronted by Jake Humphrey to run throughout the afternoon. Carragher, who will appear alongside Gary Neville on Monday Night Football, said Sky had "the best team on the best lineup of live football". Premier League Sky Sports BT Sport Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time11 July 2013 16:24:52


Premier League: Sky Sports scores against BT with Manchester derby

11 July 2013 12:34:14 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Broadcaster secures José Mourinho's Chelsea return and Manuel Pellegrini's first game at Manchester City BSkyB has muscled out challenger BT to secure key matches at the start of the Premier League season, including Manchester United's clashes with other top teams, José Mourinho's first fixture back at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini's first game in charge of Manchester City. The first round of televised Premier League fixtures published on Thursday reveal that Sky Sports has focused its efforts on keeping out BT from Manchester United's top matches, which attract the biggest football audiences, including the Manchester derby. BT's top matches in the opening weeks of the 2013/14 season are the London derby clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and Everton versus Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "This is our biggest ever season of Premier League football. When you look at the opening fixtures in black and white, you can see that no other broadcaster comes close to the quality that we offer. Sky Sports will show every match between last season's top four as well as every club at least twice by December. "We'll have more than three times as many matches as BT, and our schedule is even stronger than it was last season. With the best team of analysts, a fantastic new weekend schedule and coverage from the Football League, UEFA Champions League, La Liga and the SPL, this is the best ever football season for Sky Sports viewers." Simon Green, director of BT Sport, said: "We are thrilled that BT Sport viewers will be able to enjoy these top-of-the-table matches free with BT broadband. This is the first time in Premier League history that top pick matches have been shown anywhere other than on Sky, but Sky TV customers can easily add BT Sport by calling us and if they have BT broadband they can get it for free." More details soon... • To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication". • To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook Sky Sports Sports rights Premier League Television industry BSkyB Media business BT Sport Manchester United Manchester City John Reynolds guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time11 July 2013 12:34:14


Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea on Sky Sports and Liverpool on BT Sport in opening Premier League fixtures

11 July 2013 12:33:10 Football | Mail Online

Sky Sports and BT Sport have revealed which Premier League fixtures they will be showing in the first-half of next season, with five matches televised on the opening weekend. Sky will show Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea on the opening weekend, with BT Sport opening the season with Liverpool v Stoke

Vice Football Time11 July 2013 12:33:10


Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea on Sky Sports and Liverpool on BT Sport in opening Premier League fixtures

11 July 2013 12:03:49 Sport | Mail Online

Sky Sports and BT Sport have revealed which Premier League fixtures they will be showing in the first-half of next season, with five matches televised on the opening weekend. Sky will show Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea on the opening weekend, with BT Sport opening the season with Liverpool v Stoke

Vice Sport Time11 July 2013 12:03:49


Brian O'Driscoll decision may galavanise Lions squad, says Dai Young

04 July 2013 23:49:48 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• 'Team will want to do it for Brian', says former Lions prop • Lawrence Dallaglio admits he was surprised at the furore The former Wales and Lions prop Dai Young believes that the omission of Brian O'Driscoll for the deciding Test in Sydney could actually have a positive effect on the squad. Warren Gatland's decision to drop the the experienced Irish centre was met with shock, bemusement and condemnation by players, pundits and supporters. But Young, a member of the Lions' travelling party to Australia in 2001 which was beset by off-field issues and inter-squad strife, was keen to play down the significance of O'Driscoll's absence. "It shouldn't be about one man. This is not a decision that Warren would have made lightly. He would have put a lot of thought into it and made it for the right reason and for the rest of the team," said Young, the director of rugby at Wasps. "He's achieved more than anyone else in this game by playing the team that he wants. "I know Brian. He would have been disappointed, the same as anybody, but he will put the team and the squad first. It may galvanise the team as they will want to do it for Brian because he's a world-class player and he's well liked." Lawrence Dallaglio, another player to have represented the Lions on three separate tours, admitted he was surprised at the furore created by the decision. "He's certainly an iconic player and because the selection has ended his Lions career it's a bit more significant," Dallaglio said. "But I still couldn't quite believe how together all the Lions supporters were and now one decision has completely divided them again." Dallaglio, speaking at the announcement of the fixtures for the forthcoming Aviva Premiership season , said that the focus should be on the Lions' problems further up the field, where they have struggled to retain possession. Last weekend's late defeat to the Wallabies came after a spell of concerted home pressure which eventually wore down the Lions defence. "The Lions issues are with the forwards, no matter who you pick. They won 35% of the ball at the weekend and you're going to struggle to win a Test match away from home if you haven't got enough ball." The controversy surrounding Gatland's team selection for Saturday's game was not restricted to O'Driscoll's omission, though. Ten Welshmen will start at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, but the former England captain refused to read too much into that. "Each one of those players isn't putting on a Welsh jersey, he's putting on a British and Irish Lions jersey. They've picked the best people available to them, it just so happens that 10 of them play for Wales," Dallaglio said, before joking: "It's certainly upped the ante for the Ireland-Wales Test next season." Dean Richards, another former Lion and now the director of rugby at Newcastle Falcons, admitted that Gatland's position as the head coach of the Welsh national side will have played a role in his decision to pick so many Welshmen for the deciding test. However, he too rejected the claim that it will negatively affect the dynamic of the squad. "I don't think it makes an ounce of difference, especially going into the final Test. It's all or nothing," Richards said. "The reason he's brought the Welsh back is because they know what he wants, what he is trying to achieve and, as a consequence, he knows it won't be a problem." One debate that continues to permeate this Lions tour is the refereeing. The Frenchman Roman Poite will officiate in Saturday's match, perhaps handing a slight advantage to the visitors when it comes to varying hemispherical interpretations of the same law. BT Sport, who will show 69 live Aviva Premiership fixtures this coming season, have confirmed that they will interview referees after games. Conor O'Shea, the director of rugby at Harlequins, welcomed the decision. BT Sport, and the wider rugby circle, hope that it will add clarity to people's understanding of the rules and help avoid the ambiguity that has surrounded the refereeing decisions of the past few weeks in Australia. "Sometimes referees, and you've seen it in this Lions series, have made decisions that are correct in law, yet they've been slammed for making the correct decision, and you're looking for a guy to please tell people that that is correct," O'Shea said. "It may be a different interpretation from one hemisphere to another, but it is the correct interpretation. We have a duty to make sure we know the game as a group as well so we're all getting the right message across." Brian O'Driscoll Lions tour 2013 British & Irish Lions Warren Gatland Rugby union Australia sport guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time04 July 2013 23:49:48


BT Sport to show 30 live Football Conference matches from August

03 July 2013 20:29:09 Football | Mail Online

BT Sport will show 30 live matches from the Football Conference next season as the satellite newcomers continue to increase their portfolio.

Vice Football Time03 July 2013 20:29:09


Sky Sports offer free live Premier League action on first weekend of season as battle with BT Sport escalates

28 June 2013 11:18:04 Sport

Sky take unprecedented step of providing free live action on the first day of new Premier League season.        

Vice Sport Time28 June 2013 11:18:04


Sky Sports offer free live Premier League action on first weekend of season as battle with BT Sport escalates

28 June 2013 10:59:02 Football - Fixtures, results, news, match reports, comment

Sky take unprecedented step of providing free live action on the first day of new Premier League season.        

Vice Football Time28 June 2013 10:59:02


Rio Ferdinand quits England with plenty of plaudits but more than a few regrets | Owen Gibson

15 May 2013 14:20:47 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

The defender was imperious at times but will rue playing in only two of eight possible international tournaments So there will be no fairytale Rio finale for Rio. Instead, like so many of contemporaries, he will instead depart the international stage nursing a nagging sense of what might have been. Eighteen years ago, when a wide-eyed teenage Ferdinand was invited with his then West Ham teammate Frank Lampard to train with Terry Venables' Euro 96 squad he recalls nervously not knowing where to sit among the cliques and big names present. Lack of confidence is not a trait many have associated with the Manchester United defender since. For some his decision to call time on an England career that may have been over anyway was typical of his desire to put himself at the centre of the story. But such is the toxicity and layers of intrigue that have come to surround the relationship between perhaps the most naturally gifted defender of his generation and the man with whom he once formed the bedrock of England's defence, John Terry, that the clarity will be welcomed by all concerned. Roy Hodgson, who tied himself in knots with his decision to leave Ferdinand out of the Euro 2012 squad for "footballing reasons" and his subsequent contortions on tube trains and in press conferences, may feel some frustration at being deprived of the player at a time when his options at centre half are far less plentiful than has been the case in the past. But part of him will also breathe a sigh of relief at the decision being made for him. As with so many others of the now tarnished golden generation, Ferdinand will depart the international stage with plenty of plaudits but more than a few regrets. A gangly Ferdinand became England's youngest ever defender when he made his debut against Cameroon at Wembley in 1997, a week after his 19th birthday, and went on to be named in the squad for four consecutive World Cups. It is emblematic of some of the lingering frustrations that surround any assessment of his international career that he only appeared on the pitch in two of those tournaments (he didn't feature in 1998 and was ruled out by injury shortly after arriving in South Africa in 2010 in a freak training ground accident) and has never played in a European Championships. Even before he made his debut, there was a hint of the controversy to come when Glenn Hoddle was forced to drop the prodigiously talented teenager from his squad for a World Cup qualifier against Moldova over a drink driving incident. But in those two World Cups in which he did appear, in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and in Germany four years later, he was by common consent one of the best England players on show as he blossomed under Sven Goran-Eriksson. In 2002, alongside Sol Campbell, he raised hopes that England had found the perfect modern defender - supremely comfortable on the ball, lightening quick with expert positional sense. In the 3-0 second round victory over Denmark, in which he also scored the opening goal, he was imperious as fans conga-ed their way around the Big Swan Stadium in the teeming rain and there was that familiar feeling of soon to be dashed optimism. His performances in Japan and South Korea2002 helped him earn a £30m move to Manchester United later that summer, where he has written himself into the club's rich history. Four years later, as the "golden generation" stuttered their way to another quarter-final exit on penalties, the solid partnership between Terry and Ferdinand, who complemented one another perfectly on the pitch if not off it, was one of the bright spots. The reasons he missed those European Championships speak to the other side of Ferdinand's England experience, of controversy and missed opportunities. In 2000 Kevin Keegan left an inconsolable Ferdinand at home in favour of Martin Keown, then in 2004 he missed out on the tournament in Portugal due to the saga of his missed drugs test - he claimed to have gone shopping instead and it slipped his mind - and subsequent eight month ban. In 2008 England failed to qualify at a rain soaked Wembley and in 2012 it was those "footballing reasons" amid the caustic and unpleasant fallout from Terry's racist abuse of Ferdinand's brother Anton during a Premier League match that led to his absence. That might have been that were it not for a typically contentious coda when Hodgson, short of options in an area of the field where England were once so well served, recalled Ferdinand for the qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro in March. Ferdinand's "intricate, pre-planned" fitness programme designed to manage his ongoing back issues would not allow him to play - but did not prevent him flying to Doha to pass judgment on the games as an Al-Jazeera television pundit. Even though Sir Alex Ferguson will this weekend take his leave of the dug out for the last time, his mantra of club first, country later will continue to inform the thinking at Old Trafford for some time to come. Down the ages he has encouraged, cajoled and threatened his players to put Manchester United first and Ferdinand has now followed the template set by Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in calling time on his international career in order to further his time at the club. The explosion of joy as Ferdinand thumped a typically late winner into the net on Sunday to ensure Ferguson ended his final match at Old Trafford with a victory was ample evidence of his desire to prolong his career at the club for as long possible. In the middle of negotiations about a new one-year contract, the subject of his international future will surely have not gone unmentioned. Then there are Ferdinand's extra-curricular ambitions. From his enthusiastic early adoption of Twitter to his mini media empire and a new role with BT Sport as an "interviewer, programme-maker and football expert", he has always been willing (perhaps too willing for some) to speak his mind and has a wider hinterland than most - even if some of those efforts, like his 2006 "World Cup Wind Ups" programme, are best glossed over. Ultimately, Ferdinand's 17-year involvement with the England set up acts as pretty good shorthand for those years. Successive managers who failed to work out how best to use his supreme talent, too many off the pitch headlines that obscured his qualities on it, a club career that far outshone his international one in terms of silverware and, in the end, an overriding sense that the pain and problems associated with playing for England eventually came to more than outweigh the pleasure and pride. Rio Ferdinand England Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time15 May 2013 14:20:47


Rio Ferdinand quits England with plenty of plaudits but more than a few regrets | Owen Gibson

15 May 2013 14:13:14 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

The defender was imperious at times but will rue playing in only two of eight possible international tournaments So there will be no fairytale Rio finale for Rio. Instead, like so many of contemporaries, he will instead depart the international stage nursing a nagging sense of what might have been. Eighteen years ago, when a wide-eyed teenage Ferdinand was invited with his then West Ham teammate Frank Lampard to train with Terry Venables' Euro 96 squad he recalls nervously not knowing where to sit among the cliques and big names present. Lack of confidence is not a trait many have associated with the Manchester United defender since. For some his decision to call time on an England career that may have been over anyway was typical of his desire to put himself at the centre of the story. But such is the toxicity and layers of intrigue that have come to surround the relationship between perhaps the most naturally gifted defender of his generation and the man with whom he once formed the bedrock of England's defence, John Terry, that the clarity will be welcomed by all concerned. Roy Hodgson, who tied himself in knots with his decision to leave Ferdinand out of the Euro 2012 squad for "footballing reasons" and his subsequent contortions on tube trains and in press conferences, may feel some frustration at being deprived of the player at a time when his options at centre half are far less plentiful than has been the case in the past. But part of him will also breathe a sigh of relief at the decision being made for him. As with so many others of the now tarnished golden generation, Ferdinand will depart the international stage with plenty of plaudits but more than a few regrets. A gangly Ferdinand became England's youngest ever defender when he made his debut against Cameroon at Wembley in 1997, a week after his 19th birthday, and went on to be named in the squad for four consecutive World Cups. It is emblematic of some of the lingering frustrations that surround any assessment of his international career that he only appeared on the pitch in two of those tournaments (he didn't feature in 1998 and was ruled out by injury shortly after arriving in South Africa in 2010 in a freak training ground accident) and has never played in a European Championships. Even before he made his debut, there was a hint of the controversy to come when Glenn Hoddle was forced to drop the prodigiously talented teenager from his squad for a World Cup qualifier against Moldova over a drink driving incident. But in those two World Cups in which he did appear, in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and in Germany four years later, he was by common consent one of the best England players on show as he blossomed under Sven Goran-Eriksson. In 2002, alongside Sol Campbell, he raised hopes that England had found the perfect modern defender - supremely comfortable on the ball, lightening quick with expert positional sense. In the 3-0 second round victory over Denmark, in which he also scored the opening goal, he was imperious as fans conga-ed their way around the Big Swan Stadium in the teeming rain and there was that familiar feeling of soon to be dashed optimism. His performances in Japan and South Korea2002 helped him earn a £30m move to Manchester United later that summer, where he has written himself into the club's rich history. Four years later, as the "golden generation" stuttered their way to another quarter-final exit on penalties, the solid partnership between Terry and Ferdinand, who complemented one another perfectly on the pitch if not off it, was one of the bright spots. The reasons he missed those European Championships speak to the other side of Ferdinand's England experience, of controversy and missed opportunities. In 2000 Kevin Keegan left an inconsolable Ferdinand at home in favour of Martin Keown, then in 2004 he missed out on the tournament in Portugal due to the saga of his missed drugs test - he claimed to have gone shopping instead and it slipped his mind - and subsequent eight month ban. In 2008 England failed to qualify at a rain soaked Wembley and in 2012 it was those "footballing reasons" amid the caustic and unpleasant fallout from Terry's racist abuse of Ferdinand's brother Anton during a Premier League match that led to his absence. That might have been that were it not for a typically contentious coda when Hodgson, short of options in an area of the field where England were once so well served, recalled Ferdinand for the qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro in March. Ferdinand's "intricate, pre-planned" fitness programme designed to manage his ongoing back issues would not allow him to play - but did not prevent him flying to Doha to pass judgment on the games as an Al-Jazeera television pundit. Even though Sir Alex Ferguson will this weekend take his leave of the dug out for the last time, his mantra of club first, country later will continue to inform the thinking at Old Trafford for some time to come. Down the ages he has encouraged, cajoled and threatened his players to put Manchester United first and Ferdinand has now followed the template set by Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in calling time on his international career in order to further his time at the club. The explosion of joy as Ferdinand thumped a typically late winner into the net on Sunday to ensure Ferguson ended his final match at Old Trafford with a victory was ample evidence of his desire to prolong his career at the club for as long possible. In the middle of negotiations about a new one-year contract, the subject of his international future will surely have not gone unmentioned. Then there are Ferdinand's extra-curricular ambitions. From his enthusiastic early adoption of Twitter to his mini media empire and a new role with BT Sport as an "interviewer, programme-maker and football expert", he has always been willing (perhaps too willing for some) to speak his mind and has a wider hinterland than most - even if some of those efforts, like his 2006 "World Cup Wind Ups" programme, are best glossed over. Ultimately, Ferdinand's 17-year involvement with the England set up acts as pretty good shorthand for those years. Successive managers who failed to work out how best to use his supreme talent, too many off the pitch headlines that obscured his qualities on it, a club career that far outshone his international one in terms of silverware and, in the end, an overriding sense that the pain and problems associated with playing for England eventually came to more than outweigh the pleasure and pride. Rio Ferdinand England Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time15 May 2013 14:13:14


BT Retail boss set on challenging Sky for the title in sports broadcasting

10 May 2013 22:08:54 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Gavin Patterson believes TV sport is ready for a new look to take on the old guard, 'declaring war in the UK triple-play market' Growing up in Warrington as a Liverpool fan in the glory days of the 1970s, Gavin Patterson, BT Retail's chief executive, became used to false dawns as he watched Sir Alex Ferguson systematically knock his team off their perch. The temptation is to transpose his footballing passion to his day job in charge of all the services provided to BT's 15 million customers, from landlines to broadband to TV: a former colossus loses its way before attempting to reinvent itself for a new era while retaining its core values. But that is to overlook the fact that, in the main, BT is rather further along the road to recovery than Brendan Rodgers' side. The high-profile unveiling of BT Sport this week, marked by huge banners featuring footballer of the year and BT ambassador Gareth Bale looming over in the atrium of its City headquarters, coincided with encouraging results that lend a feelgood air to the once-moribund former monopoly provider. Even the pay-TV market, where BT started from a lowly base, provided some cheer at last with customer additions outpacing rivals. As a former managing director at the cable consolidator Telewest, Patterson has been talking "triple plays" for more than 15 years. But he is convinced that the decision to, in the words of one analyst, "declare war in the UK triple-play market", will pay off. A key component is the audacious entry into sports broadcasting with on-air talent including Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding, and new signings such as Rio Ferdinand. "This opens up premium TV and sports programming to a group of people who would not have been able to afford it or didn't see it as good value. Whichever way you want to dress it up, you have to pay a minimum of £40 or £50 because you have to buy the basic Sky channels," says the 45-year-old. Even though BT has won the rights to 38 matches a season, mainly on Saturday lunchtimes, Sky retains the rights to 116 games, plus the Champions League and a host of other sports, from Formula One to Test cricket. The history of pay TV in the UK is littered with the burnt-out shells of companies that have tried to park their tanks on Sky's lawn, from Setanta to ESPN. But whereas those challengers had to compete head on, BT is pursuing a different model. The pitch to the City is that it will use premium sports content to retain and attract broadband subscribers and stem the flow to Sky and other rivals. Everyone who pays £10 a month for BT Broadband or £15 a month for its super-fast fibre BT Infinity connection will get its three sports channels free via their computer, tablet device or TV. "We had been mulling over how we could make fibre more than a 20% penetrating type service. Whatever way you look at that, it comes back to being strong in TV," says Patterson. There have been many false dawns for BT too when it comes to television. The difference this time is the size of the investment and the scale of ambition. Not only has a 10-year lease been signed on the new hi-tech studios currently being fitted out in a rapidly changing post-Games landscape at the Olympic Park, but plans are afoot to add to a rights porfolio that also includes Premiership rugby, MotoGP and continental football. "It's a big bet, don't get me wrong. A billion quid over three years is not to be sniffed at," says Patterson with a slight swagger. "But in the scale of BT's business, it's of the order of 10% of our free cash flow." The stage is set for an epic battle between BSkyB on the outskirts of west London and BT in the east of the capital. The challenger has come out swinging, reporting Sky to Ofcom over its refusal to take advertising for the new service and becoming engaged in a bitter war of words. Sky said BT's move was a "gimmick" and a loss leader. BT immediately claimed that Sky subscribers could save upwards of £100 a year by switching. Pricing tables began flying back and forth. There are also ongoing regulatory frictions. Sky will only sell its sports channels to BT's legacy TV service BT Vision but not its new, all-singing, all-dancing YouView proposition, creating customer confusion. Even then, it will only allow its rivals' customers to buy Sky Sports 1 and 2 in standard definition, with none of the extra channels or interactive bells and whistles. "We welcome wholesaling to Sky. What I observe the other way is that, frankly, we feel discriminated against," says Patterson. BT's move into TV, first through BT Vision and now through the YouView joint venture, has been bumpy. Patterson boasted back in 2010 that the introduction of Project Canvas (as YouView was then known) would equal the impact of the switch from black and white to colour. "I'm not sure that was my line," he protests now (it was). It hasn't quite worked out that way, though it does have a respectable 840,000 TV customers. He admits: "It's proven not as straightforward as we thought it might be. But our growth over the last three or four years has not been shabby. And the product itself now is bloody good." He senses that the way people watch TV is changing, moving away from Sky's walled garden, bundled approach to an open, more interactive experience. Patterson, who has been at BT since 2004 and was promoted to the board in 2008, says it is a "very, very different company" to the one he joined. He admits it is exciting to be the challenger for once. He was one of a handful of key figures who planned the £738m Premier League move. They went to huge lengths to keep it secret, even using a dressed-down intern to deliver their bid, ferrying her home immediately via an unmarked car and public transport so she was not followed back to their offices. "It was thrilling. But suddenly there is a moment when you realise you've got to deliver." Three months from BT Sport's August launch, Patterson praises Sky's professionalism but can't resist a dig at its presentational style. "It's very professionally put together. But it leaves me cold," he says of the efforts of Gary Neville and company. "We want to be more fun, more interactive, more inclusive and more entertaining." There is one downside to BT's high-stakes incursion into live top-flight football, he admits: "At the moment I can watch football purely as a fan. Go through all the emotions, get grumpy when they lose, buying every paper when they win. Now a little part of me knows it will never quite be the same again and it will always be business." Saturdays will bring to mind the days of Grandstand, mixed with a dash of Top Gear, with a range of sports showcased throughout the day and Humphrey anchoring coverage live from the studio in front of an audience. The Olympics, which BT sponsored, was a "lightbulb moment", he says. It proved BT could deliver large-scale projects to a fixed timescale and demonstrated that there was a market for a different sort of sports channel. There will be an emphasis on women's sport – WTA Tour coverage with Martina Navratilova, live Women's Super League football and Balding, who continually bangs the drum for g

Vice All News Time10 May 2013 22:08:54


BT Retail boss set on challenging Sky for the title in sports broadcasting

10 May 2013 22:04:04 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Gavin Patterson believes TV sport is ready for a new look to take on the old guard, 'declaring war in the UK triple-play market' Growing up in Warrington as a Liverpool fan in the glory days of the 1970s, Gavin Patterson, BT Retail's chief executive, became used to false dawns as he watched Sir Alex Ferguson systematically knock his team off their perch. The temptation is to transpose his footballing passion to his day job in charge of all the services provided to BT's 15 million customers, from landlines to broadband to TV: a former colossus loses its way before attempting to reinvent itself for a new era while retaining its core values. But that is to overlook the fact that, in the main, BT is rather further along the road to recovery than Brendan Rodgers' side. The high-profile unveiling of BT Sport this week, marked by huge banners featuring footballer of the year and BT ambassador Gareth Bale looming over in the atrium of its City headquarters, coincided with encouraging results that lend a feelgood air to the once-moribund former monopoly provider. Even the pay-TV market, where BT started from a lowly base, provided some cheer at last with customer additions outpacing rivals. As a former managing director at the cable consolidator Telewest, Patterson has been talking "triple plays" for more than 15 years. But he is convinced that the decision to, in the words of one analyst, "declare war in the UK triple-play market", will pay off. A key component is the audacious entry into sports broadcasting with on-air talent including Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding, and new signings such as Rio Ferdinand. "This opens up premium TV and sports programming to a group of people who would not have been able to afford it or didn't see it as good value. Whichever way you want to dress it up, you have to pay a minimum of £40 or £50 because you have to buy the basic Sky channels," says the 45-year-old. Even though BT has won the rights to 38 matches a season, mainly on Saturday lunchtimes, Sky retains the rights to 116 games, plus the Champions League and a host of other sports, from Formula One to Test cricket. The history of pay TV in the UK is littered with the burnt-out shells of companies that have tried to park their tanks on Sky's lawn, from Setanta to ESPN. But whereas those challengers had to compete head on, BT is pursuing a different model. The pitch to the City is that it will use premium sports content to retain and attract broadband subscribers and stem the flow to Sky and other rivals. Everyone who pays £10 a month for BT Broadband or £15 a month for its super-fast fibre BT Infinity connection will get its three sports channels free via their computer, tablet device or TV. "We had been mulling over how we could make fibre more than a 20% penetrating type service. Whatever way you look at that, it comes back to being strong in TV," says Patterson. There have been many false dawns for BT too when it comes to television. The difference this time is the size of the investment and the scale of ambition. Not only has a 10-year lease been signed on the new hi-tech studios currently being fitted out in a rapidly changing post-Games landscape at the Olympic Park, but plans are afoot to add to a rights porfolio that also includes Premiership rugby, MotoGP and continental football. "It's a big bet, don't get me wrong. A billion quid over three years is not to be sniffed at," says Patterson with a slight swagger. "But in the scale of BT's business, it's of the order of 10% of our free cash flow." The stage is set for an epic battle between BSkyB on the outskirts of west London and BT in the east of the capital. The challenger has come out swinging, reporting Sky to Ofcom over its refusal to take advertising for the new service and becoming engaged in a bitter war of words. Sky said BT's move was a "gimmick" and a loss leader. BT immediately claimed that Sky subscribers could save upwards of £100 a year by switching. Pricing tables began flying back and forth. There are also ongoing regulatory frictions. Sky will only sell its sports channels to BT's legacy TV service BT Vision but not its new, all-singing, all-dancing YouView proposition, creating customer confusion. Even then, it will only allow its rivals' customers to buy Sky Sports 1 and 2 in standard definition, with none of the extra channels or interactive bells and whistles. "We welcome wholesaling to Sky. What I observe the other way is that, frankly, we feel discriminated against," says Patterson. BT's move into TV, first through BT Vision and now through the YouView joint venture, has been bumpy. Patterson boasted back in 2010 that the introduction of Project Canvas (as YouView was then known) would equal the impact of the switch from black and white to colour. "I'm not sure that was my line," he protests now (it was). It hasn't quite worked out that way, though it does have a respectable 840,000 TV customers. He admits: "It's proven not as straightforward as we thought it might be. But our growth over the last three or four years has not been shabby. And the product itself now is bloody good." He senses that the way people watch TV is changing, moving away from Sky's walled garden, bundled approach to an open, more interactive experience. Patterson, who has been at BT since 2004 and was promoted to the board in 2008, says it is a "very, very different company" to the one he joined. He admits it is exciting to be the challenger for once. He was one of a handful of key figures who planned the £738m Premier League move. They went to huge lengths to keep it secret, even using a dressed-down intern to deliver their bid, ferrying her home immediately via an unmarked car and public transport so she was not followed back to their offices. "It was thrilling. But suddenly there is a moment when you realise you've got to deliver." Three months from BT Sport's August launch, Patterson praises Sky's professionalism but can't resist a dig at its presentational style. "It's very professionally put together. But it leaves me cold," he says of the efforts of Gary Neville and company. "We want to be more fun, more interactive, more inclusive and more entertaining." There is one downside to BT's high-stakes incursion into live top-flight football, he admits: "At the moment I can watch football purely as a fan. Go through all the emotions, get grumpy when they lose, buying every paper when they win. Now a little part of me knows it will never quite be the same again and it will always be business." Saturdays will bring to mind the days of Grandstand, mixed with a dash of Top Gear, with a range of sports showcased throughout the day and Humphrey anchoring coverage live from the studio in front of an audience. The Olympics, which BT sponsored, was a "lightbulb moment", he says. It proved BT could deliver large-scale projects to a fixed timescale and demonstrated that there was a market for a different sort of sports channel. There will be an emphasis on women's sport – WTA Tour coverage with Martina Navratilova, live Women's Super League football and Balding, who continually bangs the drum for g

Vice All News Time10 May 2013 22:04:04


BT Sport: what you will pay

10 May 2013 16:53:25 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

BT broadband customers get its three sports channels for free, so is it worth switching and what will you pay? BT has announced that its broadband customers will get free access to its three sports channels from 1 August. What sport will be available? BT is offering three channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN – which will show a range of sport from football to women's tennis. The broadcaster has the rights to show 38 Premier League football matches and exclusive rights to show live games from rugby's Aviva Premiership. There will also be some FA Cup games and Scottish Premier League games. If you're a football fan you will probably want to run BT Sports alongside your existing Sky Sports package, if you have one. If you are a rugby fan you might just want BT Sports. How much will I have to pay? If you are a new customer the monthly cost of taking broadband from BT is £10 on copper broadband or £15 on superfast fibre broadband with capped usage, or £16 a month for unlimited usage. On top of that you will also face a line rental charge of £15.45. To get the sports offer you have to commit to a 12-month contract. Anyone who signs up before 1 August when the channels go live will get free HD channels for a year; those who sign up afterwards will need to pay £3 a month. When you join you will need to pay £6.95 P&P for the hub. That will be enough to let you watch the channels online. If you want to watch via your TV you will need to get BT TV. This costs £199 upfront with no contract, or £49 if you sign up for a TV package. The cheapest package is £5 a month and you need to sign up for a year. Signing up for BT Infinity, the package delivered through the fibre optic network, means an additional upfront "activation cost" of £30, while the alternative – watching through the TV aerial – will require you to buy a card for £10. Upfront costs can add up to more than £80. I'm already with BT for broadband and TV, will I get the channels automatically? No. You will need to commit to a 12-month broadband contract to get it, so you have to actively opt in to receive them. If, for example, you have two months left on an existing contract it can just be extended to 12 months; if you are two months into an 18-month contract you don't need to make any extra commitments. I'm with BT for broadband but have a Freeview box. What will I pay? You can watch the sports channels on your iPad or PC for free through an app. If you want to watch on your TV you will need a set-top box. This costs £199 upfront with no contract, or £49 if you sign up for a TV package. The cheapest is £5 a month and you need to sign up for a year. There are also upfront activation costs (see above). I'm with BT for broadband but have a Sky box. What will I pay? You can watch BT Sports through your Sky box for free. You just need to call and request it, giving the details of your set-top box. I'm with Sky for broadband, phone and TV. What would I pay to get the BT channels? It depends what you want to do. BT and Sky have done a deal to show each others channels, so you could stay with Sky and add the BT Sports package to your existing deal. This will cost £12 a month, or £15 if you want HD channels. If you decide to switch entirely you won't need to pay for a phone line, but you will need to pay for a new BT set-top box and pay all the activation costs detailed earlier. The cost of your line rental will also increase from £14.50 a month with Sky to £15.45 a month with BT, as will the cost of broadband, from £7.50 with Sky to £16 with BT. However, BT is offering free broadband for six months, and as such over the first year it claims that the full phone, broadband and TV package will cost £134.65 a year less. After that you will pay £76.50 a month to get a full package including Sky and BT's sports channels from Sky, and £73.95 a month to get it from BT. I'm with Virgin Media for everything. What would I pay to get BT Sports? Unfortunately at the moment you can't add BT Sports to your Virgin Media TV package, so you need to switch provider entirely if you want the deal. You will need a new phone line, which means an upfront charge of £30, and your line rental will go up from £14.99 a month to £15.45 (although you can reduce that to £10.75 if you pay for a whole year in advance). BT claims its total monthly cost of a TV, phone and broadband package including Sky Sports is £55.45, while with Virgin Media it is £66.74. If you wanted a package with TV, broadband and phone and just BT's sports channels, not Sky's, it would cost £35.45 a month at BT. Is this just a one-year deal or will I have to pay next season? BT says it has no plans to charge for sports next season, but the free HD offer will end after a year. After that, customers who want to continue with HD will pay £3 a month. The company has Premier League football rights for three years and the rugby rights for four years. Should I be worried about switching provider? We have had lots of complaints from readers who have tried to get BT phone lines fixed or installed in recent months , so you would be right to have reservations. However, BT says it has taken on new call centre staff and engineers to cope with the demand it expects, but if you want to make sure you get the channels in time for the start of the football season you would be wise not to leave it until the last minute. Household bills Internet, phones & broadband Consumer affairs BT Sport BT Telecommunications industry Sky Sports Television industry Premier League Rugby union Hilary Osborne guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time10 May 2013 16:53:25


BT Sport: what you will pay

10 May 2013 16:49:50 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

BT broadband customers get its three sports channels for free, so is it worth switching and what will you pay? BT has announced that its broadband customers will get free access to its three sports channels from 1 August. What sport will be available? BT is offering three channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN – which will show a range of sport from football to women's tennis. The broadcaster has the rights to show 38 Premier League football matches and exclusive rights to show live games from rugby's Aviva Premiership. There will also be some FA Cup games and Scottish Premier League games. If you're a football fan you will probably want to run BT Sports alongside your existing Sky Sports package, if you have one. If you are a rugby fan you might just want BT Sports. How much will I have to pay? If you are a new customer the monthly cost of taking broadband from BT is £10 on copper broadband or £15 on superfast fibre broadband with capped usage, or £16 a month for unlimited usage. On top of that you will also face a line rental charge of £15.45. To get the sports offer you have to commit to a 12-month contract. Anyone who signs up before 1 August when the channels go live will get free HD channels for a year; those who sign up afterwards will need to pay £3 a month. When you join you will need to pay £6.95 P&P for the hub. That will be enough to let you watch the channels online. If you want to watch via your TV you will need to get BT TV. This costs £199 upfront with no contract, or £49 if you sign up for a TV package. The cheapest package is £5 a month and you need to sign up for a year. Signing up for BT Infinity, the package delivered through the fibre optic network, means an additional upfront "activation cost" of £30, while the alternative – watching through the TV aerial – will require you to buy a card for £10. Upfront costs can add up to more than £80. I'm already with BT for broadband and TV, will I get the channels automatically? No. You will need to commit to a 12-month broadband contract to get it, so you have to actively opt in to receive them. If, for example, you have two months left on an existing contract it can just be extended to 12 months; if you are two months into an 18-month contract you don't need to make any extra commitments. I'm with BT for broadband but have a Freeview box. What will I pay? You can watch the sports channels on your iPad or PC for free through an app. If you want to watch on your TV you will need a set-top box. This costs £199 upfront with no contract, or £49 if you sign up for a TV package. The cheapest is £5 a month and you need to sign up for a year. There are also upfront activation costs (see above). I'm with BT for broadband but have a Sky box. What will I pay? You can watch BT Sports through your Sky box for free. You just need to call and request it, giving the details of your set-top box. I'm with Sky for broadband, phone and TV. What would I pay to get the BT channels? It depends what you want to do. BT and Sky have done a deal to show each others channels, so you could stay with Sky and add the BT Sports package to your existing deal. This will cost £12 a month, or £15 if you want HD channels. If you decide to switch entirely you won't need to pay for a phone line, but you will need to pay for a new BT set-top box and pay all the activation costs detailed earlier. The cost of your line rental will also increase from £14.50 a month with Sky to £15.45 a month with BT, as will the cost of broadband, from £7.50 with Sky to £16 with BT. However, BT is offering free broadband for six months, and as such over the first year it claims that the full phone, broadband and TV package will cost £134.65 a year less. After that you will pay £76.50 a month to get a full package including Sky and BT's sports channels from Sky, and £73.95 a month to get it from BT. I'm with Virgin Media for everything. What would I pay to get BT Sports? Unfortunately at the moment you can't add BT Sports to your Virgin Media TV package, so you need to switch provider entirely if you want the deal. You will need a new phone line, which means an upfront charge of £30, and your line rental will go up from £14.99 a month to £15.45 (although you can reduce that to £10.75 if you pay for a whole year in advance). BT claims its total monthly cost of a TV, phone and broadband package including Sky Sports is £55.45, while with Virgin Media it is £66.74. If you wanted a package with TV, broadband and phone and just BT's sports channels, not Sky's, it would cost £35.45 a month at BT. Is this just a one-year deal or will I have to pay next season? BT says it has no plans to charge for sports next season, but the free HD offer will end after a year. After that, customers who want to continue with HD will pay £3 a month. The company has Premier League football rights for three years and the rugby rights for four years. Should I be worried about switching provider? We have had lots of complaints from readers who have tried to get BT phone lines fixed or installed in recent months , so you would be right to have reservations. However, BT says it has taken on new call centre staff and engineers to cope with the demand it expects, but if you want to make sure you get the channels in time for the start of the football season you would be wise not to leave it until the last minute. Household bills Internet, phones & broadband Consumer affairs BT Sport BT Telecommunications industry Sky Sports Television industry Premier League Rugby union Hilary Osborne guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time10 May 2013 16:49:50


Premier League and FA Cup: 10 things to look out for this weekend

10 May 2013 10:42:35 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

A weekend of farewells, death or glory for Wigan and why Emmanuel Adebayor could be the difference at Stoke City 1) The tears will flow like the Irwell at Old Trafford Sir Alex Ferguson is not the type to inspire sentiment. Nor to seek it. His abrasiveness and remorseless will to win at Manchester United for the best part of three decades have made him the subject of respectful admiration and/or fear and loathing, depending on your view-point. But since Wednesday's bombshell announcement that, from next season, he will no longer be a part of our sporting lives , everybody seems to have melted. It is partly because, for better or for worse, the seemingly indestructible Glaswegian has provided so many frames of reference that he came to feel strangely reassuring. Now that he is going, what certainties remain? In time, even his enemies will smile at the foibles and the bloodymindedness that have driven them to distraction. The sense of nostalgia is everywhere, which means emotion and, for the manager's last home game against Swansea City on Sunday, the prospect of grown men, whether United fans or otherwise, feeling lumps in their throats and wondering what they can do about them. Pass the hankie. David Hytner 2) Moyes will enjoy a send-off Only the hardest Evertonian would begrudge David Moyes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to manage Manchester United , especially after all that he has done at Goodison Park since his arrival from Preston North End in March 2002; the body-and-soul dedication and the consistent level of achievement. Few will be happy to see him leave but there cannot be the sense that he is somehow doing the dirty on them. It will be interesting to see how the club handles any ceremony in what will be Moyes' farewell game at Goodison against West Ham United on Sunday but it feels sure to be an occasion when the home crowd expresses its gratitude. DH 3) Wembley rising Roberto Mancini's record against Wigan is seven victories in seven games with 13 goals scored and none conceded since taking over as Manchester City's manager. And given the ease with which City dispatched another set of cup final virgins Stoke City in 2011 (only 1-0 but a one-sided match for more than three-quarters of it), a pragmatist would not bet against them winning their sixth FA Cup on Saturday evening. For City it will be interesting to see whether James Milner, one of the few who have been consistently better this season than last, makes the starting XI having played last weekend and on Tuesday night and if so, whether his muscular tenacity will be an asset on the right against Wigan's three-man defence and the attack-minded wing-back Jean Beausejour (if the Chilean passes a fitness test). Meanwhile, Wigan place their hope in James McCarthy, whose touch with both feet, range of passing, drive and vision have made a convincing argument that he would improve almost all other Premier League sides, and Shaun Maloney, the Aberdonian Juan Mata. Rob Bagchi 4) Death or glory? Wigan Athletic have eight days to make history. If they win the FA Cup final, but slip into the Championship next weekend, they will become the first club to exit the top flight as Cup winners. Six other clubs have faced a similar trajectory. Chelsea (1915), Manchester City (1926), Leicester City (1969), Brighton (1983), Middlesbrough (1997) and Portsmouth (2010) all achieved the counter-intuitive feat of making the Cup final but going down. None of them won the trophy, and Middlesbrough even lost the League Cup final for good measure. Premier League survival has been fetishised in recent years, with the forthcoming windfall from BT and Sky making top-flight football all the more valuable , but what should Wigan fans wish for: the first FA Cup trophy in their history or the comfort of another year in the Premier League? Paul Campbell 5) Newcastle face a test of nerve Given the club's recent home form and the attendant scars from the fixtures against Sunderland and Liverpool , it might feel opportune that Newcastle will seek to end the doubts about their Premier League status with a fixture at Loftus Road, and against the worst team in the division. Queens Park Rangers' season, in the words of their chairman Tony Fernandes, has been akin to a Shakespearean tragedy . But Newcastle will be stalked to west London by the nightmare scenario: lose and they would feel the jaws of relegation. All it could take thereafter would be a home defeat by Arsenal and a last-day home win for Wigan Athletic over Aston Villa. It is squeaky bum time and Newcastle must show the required composure to get a result against QPR. DH 6) Adebayor is belatedly on the up When teams go to Stoke City, there is always the temptation to pick the big men and it would be no surprise if the Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas started Jan Vertonghen at left-back, recalled Steven Caulker in the centre and persisted with Tom Huddlestone in midfield. Emmanuel Adebayor, though, deserves to keep his place up front after his excellent performance at Chelsea and his mixture of aggression and finesse could prove to be crucial. The centre-forward has endured a difficult season but his focus is on finishing strongly. Tottenham are consumed by the need for a favour from elsewhere. They must do themselves one first at the Britannia Stadium. DH 7) The farewell will be more poignant at Villa Park It being Manchester United and Everton's final home games of the season, fans of both clubs have a last chance to see Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes patrolling their touchlines/complaining to the fourth official in their respective shrines this weekend. With Everton quiet on arrangements and United insisting there are no special plans for Ferguson, expect the works: chanting, guards of honour, giant banners and Bill Kenwright balling his eyes out. Yet the most poignant send-off of the weekend will be at Villa Park, where club captain Stilian Petrov will lead out the Villa players and their families for the traditional lap of appreciation at the end of Saturday's home match against Chelsea, following his retirement as he continues to battle acute leukaemia. Petrov's footbal

Vice All News Time10 May 2013 10:42:35


Premier League and FA Cup: 10 things to look out for this weekend

10 May 2013 10:33:58 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

A weekend of farewells, death or glory for Wigan and why Emmanuel Adebayor could be the difference at Stoke City 1) The tears will flow like the Irwell at Old Trafford Sir Alex Ferguson is not the type to inspire sentiment. Nor to seek it. His abrasiveness and remorseless will to win at Manchester United for the best part of three decades have made him the subject of respectful admiration and/or fear and loathing, depending on your view-point. But since Wednesday's bombshell announcement that, from next season, he will no longer be a part of our sporting lives , everybody seems to have melted. It is partly because, for better or for worse, the seemingly indestructible Glaswegian has provided so many frames of reference that he came to feel strangely reassuring. Now that he is going, what certainties remain? In time, even his enemies will smile at the foibles and the bloodymindedness that have driven them to distraction. The sense of nostalgia is everywhere, which means emotion and, for the manager's last home game against Swansea City on Sunday, the prospect of grown men, whether United fans or otherwise, feeling lumps in their throats and wondering what they can do about them. Pass the hankie. David Hytner 2) Moyes will enjoy a send-off Only the hardest Evertonian would begrudge David Moyes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to manage Manchester United , especially after all that he has done at Goodison Park since his arrival from Preston North End in March 2002; the body-and-soul dedication and the consistent level of achievement. Few will be happy to see him leave but there cannot be the sense that he is somehow doing the dirty on them. It will be interesting to see how the club handles any ceremony in what will be Moyes' farewell game at Goodison against West Ham United on Sunday but it feels sure to be an occasion when the home crowd expresses its gratitude. DH 3) Wembley rising Roberto Mancini's record against Wigan is seven victories in seven games with 13 goals scored and none conceded since taking over as Manchester City's manager. And given the ease with which City dispatched another set of cup final virgins Stoke City in 2011 (only 1-0 but a one-sided match for more than three-quarters of it), a pragmatist would not bet against them winning their sixth FA Cup on Saturday evening. For City it will be interesting to see whether James Milner, one of the few who have been consistently better this season than last, makes the starting XI having played last weekend and on Tuesday night and if so, whether his muscular tenacity will be an asset on the right against Wigan's three-man defence and the attack-minded wing-back Jean Beausejour (if the Chilean passes a fitness test). Meanwhile, Wigan place their hope in James McCarthy, whose touch with both feet, range of passing, drive and vision have made a convincing argument that he would improve almost all other Premier League sides, and Shaun Maloney, the Aberdonian Juan Mata. Rob Bagchi 4) Death or glory? Wigan Athletic have eight days to make history. If they win the FA Cup final, but slip into the Championship next weekend, they will become the first club to exit the top flight as Cup winners. Six other clubs have faced a similar trajectory. Chelsea (1915), Manchester City (1926), Leicester City (1969), Brighton (1983), Middlesbrough (1997) and Portsmouth (2010) all achieved the counter-intuitive feat of making the Cup final but going down. None of them won the trophy, and Middlesbrough even lost the League Cup final for good measure. Premier League survival has been fetishised in recent years, with the forthcoming windfall from BT and Sky making top-flight football all the more valuable , but what should Wigan fans wish for: the first FA Cup trophy in their history or the comfort of another year in the Premier League? Paul Campbell 5) Newcastle face a test of nerve Given the club's recent home form and the attendant scars from the fixtures against Sunderland and Liverpool , it might feel opportune that Newcastle will seek to end the doubts about their Premier League status with a fixture at Loftus Road, and against the worst team in the division. Queens Park Rangers' season, in the words of their chairman Tony Fernandes, has been akin to a Shakespearean tragedy . But Newcastle will be stalked to west London by the nightmare scenario: lose and they would feel the jaws of relegation. All it could take thereafter would be a home defeat by Arsenal and a last-day home win for Wigan Athletic over Aston Villa. It is squeaky bum time and Newcastle must show the required composure to get a result against QPR. DH 6) Adebayor is belatedly on the up When teams go to Stoke City, there is always the temptation to pick the big men and it would be no surprise if the Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas started Jan Vertonghen at left-back, recalled Steven Caulker in the centre and persisted with Tom Huddlestone in midfield. Emmanuel Adebayor, though, deserves to keep his place up front after his excellent performance at Chelsea and his mixture of aggression and finesse could prove to be crucial. The centre-forward has endured a difficult season but his focus is on finishing strongly. Tottenham are consumed by the need for a favour from elsewhere. They must do themselves one first at the Britannia Stadium. DH 7) The farewell will be more poignant at Villa Park It being Manchester United and Everton's final home games of the season, fans of both clubs have a last chance to see Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes patrolling their touchlines/complaining to the fourth official in their respective shrines this weekend. With Everton quiet on arrangements and United insisting there are no special plans for Ferguson, expect the works: chanting, guards of honour, giant banners and Bill Kenwright balling his eyes out. Yet the most poignant send-off of the weekend will be at Villa Park, where club captain Stilian Petrov will lead out the Villa players and their families for the traditional lap of appreciation at the end of Saturday's home match against Chelsea, following his retirement as he continues to battle acute leukaemia. Petrov's football

Vice All News Time10 May 2013 10:33:58


Jake Humphrey: BT Sport is ready to take on Sky Sports

09 May 2013 09:17:20 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

BT Sport awaits the unveiling of a multimillion-pound marketing campaign to announce itself as the new rival to Sky Sports In one corner of a cavernous studio in Elstree, the unmistakeable silhouette of Marouane Fellaini is bouncing high on a trampoline under a rain machine in scenes unlikely to do much for David Moyes's blood pressure. In another, Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is being filmed on a giant hamster wheel. BT Sport's expensively acquired big name hires from the BBC, Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding, weave in and out of the action as gaggles of clipboard-wielding assistants buzz around shouting into walkie-talkies about pressing crises such as Thomas Vermaelen having the wrong-sized shorts. Somewhere amid the mixture of tedium and mayhem of a big budget advertising shoot, those behind BT Sport's multimillion-pound marketing campaign to announce itself to a sporting public used to Sky Sports are nervously awaiting the moment when they will unveil their proposition to the world. The public face of that assault will be Humphrey, who fronted the BBC's Formula One coverage before he jumped ship for BT. From a makeshift dressing room, he says the mixture of excitement and trepidation reminds him of when he was tasked with making the leap from children's television to a sport with one of the most committed and demanding fanbases. "They announced it at 10am on a Thursday morning and my wife rang in floods of tears at 10.30am saying she'd just been on the internet and everyone was saying I was going to be shit," he recalls. "I asked where she'd read it and it was on the BBC Sport website. There were already 250 or 300 messages under the headline 'Sack Jake Humphrey now'." With the BBC having given up the live rights to half of their grands prix under a renegotiation of their contract and Gary Lineker seemingly immovable as the main anchor of the BBC's football and major events coverage, Humphrey says that as soon as he knew BT were prepared to invest for the long haul he was convinced of their ambition. "I was trying to build a good career at the BBC, so it was a big move to walk away. What compelled me to do it was the ambition. I wanted to know if they just wanted to be in it for three years to sell a few internet connections," he says. "They told me their plans for the studio on the Olympic Park and it got me thinking that just as the BBC were shutting down TV Centre, which I've always called home, there's BT building something that is going to be a third of the size of TV Centre. They are showing incredible ambition. They're talking 10 years plus, they're here for the long haul. I don't think you spend £738m on football rights to disappear after three years. You do it as part of a long-term plan." BT Sport's marketing manager, Alfredo Garicoche, is more effusive still: "We're not thinking for the next two or three years, we're thinking for the next 20 or 30 years and even longer. We're here to play the game. We have the financial backing to play the game and play it well." BT executives insist their big gamble on sports rights as a driver of broadband subscriptions is a long-term bet, having already splashed out £1bn on rights and taken a 10-year lease on new studio at the Olympic Park in Stratford. They also insist there is a gap in the market for a different kind of presentation, subtly different from Sky's high-stakes, hi-octane world of Super Sundays and endless hype. "We've talked internally about it being sport with a smile," says Humphrey. "You want people to turn on and not be sure whether they're watching BT or the BBC. Really good production values, really nice, accessible, open coverage. "Sky have done a brilliant job and we'll have a big task to match up to the quality of their coverage but I do think there is room for improvement and to add my own stamp on it. I want to make it a warmer, friendlier, a more personal experience. Everyone knows a lot about the Premier League but we can open it up even more and get even closer to the names and the faces," adds the 34-year-old, who is a lifelong Norwich fan. To that end, BT has signed up a series of "ambassadors" including Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and is making noises about a renewed tilt at persuading Premier League clubs to be more open about where they allow cameras to go on matchdays and during the week. Most of BT's live matches will be in the Saturday lunchtime slot and Humphrey says that once viewers have tuned in, part of the task will be to keep them for the whole day. Like an updated version of the BBC institution Grandstand, he envisages presenting from the studio or from big grounds around the country for the entire afternoon, passing from one sport to another and bringing the "crackle of live sport" to the nation. "You'll switch on first thing in the morning and won't want to switch off until last thing at night. That's the plan. It's important we give equal standing to everything. If you like rugby, the only place you'll be able to see it is on BT. We've got the tennis. It's important all the other sport is on a level playing field." Taking a break from perusing storyboards that variously show Fellaini challenging the Saracens No8 Ernst Joubert as he leaps for a lineout and Humphrey avoiding tennis balls fired at him by Heather Watson, Garicoche adds: "Our style is going to be different. We like to say it's sport with colour, sport with fun. More engaging and approachable maybe. We like the word inclusive as well." Whether there is room in the market for a cheaper, more family orientated alternative to Sky is the £1bn question for BT executives. Sky, not used to losing and having seen off pretenders including Setanta and ESPN, is already fighting back by tying up all its most important rights for as long as possible and training its guns on its new rival. The other big names who will appear alongside Humphrey are expected to be unveiled on Thursday, but the presenter believes that BT owes Gary Neville, Sky's star signing who has breathed new life into its coverage, a debt of thanks. "What is brilliant is that Gary stepping straight out of the most famous dressing room in the country and on to TV opens us up to pretty much every player who is looking to retire. That is brilliant for the fans at home," says Humphrey. "For a long time it felt like pretty much every pundit managed or played 10 years ago. There was a real generation gap. Now, the feeling is that we need someone who has just stepped out of a big dressing room." Sky revolutionised sports broadcasting when Rupert Murdoch bet the farm on Premier League rights 22 years ago, but Humphrey believes there are things BT can do to subtly move it forward again. The cavernous studio will play host to a half-sized football pitch, where pundits will demonstrate what players did or didn't do correctly and there are other technological innovations planned that marry broadband interactivity with live coverage. "With me being in my early 30s I'm not scared of technology, I've grown up with it – playing computer games and doing all that stuff. I want to delve into that. But at the same time, we don't want to lose the human element," says Humphrey. The biggest winners in the battle between BT and Sky are likely to be the Premier League, which has banked a total of £5.5bn for its TV rights over the next three years. Its executives are rubbing their hands

Vice All News Time09 May 2013 09:17:20


Jake Humphrey: BT Sport is ready to take on Sky Sports

09 May 2013 09:09:48 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

BT Sport awaits the unveiling of a multimillion-pound marketing campaign to announce itself as the new rival to Sky Sports In one corner of a cavernous studio in Elstree, the unmistakeable silhouette of Marouane Fellaini is bouncing high on a trampoline under a rain machine in scenes unlikely to do much for David Moyes's blood pressure. In another, Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is being filmed on a giant hamster wheel. BT Sport's expensively acquired big name hires from the BBC, Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding, weave in and out of the action as gaggles of clipboard-wielding assistants buzz around shouting into walkie-talkies about pressing crises such as Thomas Vermaelen having the wrong-sized shorts. Somewhere amid the mixture of tedium and mayhem of a big budget advertising shoot, those behind BT Sport's multimillion-pound marketing campaign to announce itself to a sporting public used to Sky Sports are nervously awaiting the moment when they will unveil their proposition to the world. The public face of that assault will be Humphrey, who fronted the BBC's Formula One coverage before he jumped ship for BT. From a makeshift dressing room, he says the mixture of excitement and trepidation reminds him of when he was tasked with making the leap from children's television to a sport with one of the most committed and demanding fanbases. "They announced it at 10am on a Thursday morning and my wife rang in floods of tears at 10.30am saying she'd just been on the internet and everyone was saying I was going to be shit," he recalls. "I asked where she'd read it and it was on the BBC Sport website. There were already 250 or 300 messages under the headline 'Sack Jake Humphrey now'." With the BBC having given up the live rights to half of their grands prix under a renegotiation of their contract and Gary Lineker seemingly immovable as the main anchor of the BBC's football and major events coverage, Humphrey says that as soon as he knew BT were prepared to invest for the long haul he was convinced of their ambition. "I was trying to build a good career at the BBC, so it was a big move to walk away. What compelled me to do it was the ambition. I wanted to know if they just wanted to be in it for three years to sell a few internet connections," he says. "They told me their plans for the studio on the Olympic Park and it got me thinking that just as the BBC were shutting down TV Centre, which I've always called home, there's BT building something that is going to be a third of the size of TV Centre. They are showing incredible ambition. They're talking 10 years plus, they're here for the long haul. I don't think you spend £738m on football rights to disappear after three years. You do it as part of a long-term plan." BT Sport's marketing manager, Alfredo Garicoche, is more effusive still: "We're not thinking for the next two or three years, we're thinking for the next 20 or 30 years and even longer. We're here to play the game. We have the financial backing to play the game and play it well." BT executives insist their big gamble on sports rights as a driver of broadband subscriptions is a long-term bet, having already splashed out £1bn on rights and taken a 10-year lease on new studio at the Olympic Park in Stratford. They also insist there is a gap in the market for a different kind of presentation, subtly different from Sky's high-stakes, hi-octane world of Super Sundays and endless hype. "We've talked internally about it being sport with a smile," says Humphrey. "You want people to turn on and not be sure whether they're watching BT or the BBC. Really good production values, really nice, accessible, open coverage. "Sky have done a brilliant job and we'll have a big task to match up to the quality of their coverage but I do think there is room for improvement and to add my own stamp on it. I want to make it a warmer, friendlier, a more personal experience. Everyone knows a lot about the Premier League but we can open it up even more and get even closer to the names and the faces," adds the 34-year-old, who is a lifelong Norwich fan. To that end, BT has signed up a series of "ambassadors" including Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and is making noises about a renewed tilt at persuading Premier League clubs to be more open about where they allow cameras to go on matchdays and during the week. Most of BT's live matches will be in the Saturday lunchtime slot and Humphrey says that once viewers have tuned in, part of the task will be to keep them for the whole day. Like an updated version of the BBC institution Grandstand, he envisages presenting from the studio or from big grounds around the country for the entire afternoon, passing from one sport to another and bringing the "crackle of live sport" to the nation. "You'll switch on first thing in the morning and won't want to switch off until last thing at night. That's the plan. It's important we give equal standing to everything. If you like rugby, the only place you'll be able to see it is on BT. We've got the tennis. It's important all the other sport is on a level playing field." Taking a break from perusing storyboards that variously show Fellaini challenging the Saracens No8 Ernst Joubert as he leaps for a lineout and Humphrey avoiding tennis balls fired at him by Heather Watson, Garicoche adds: "Our style is going to be different. We like to say it's sport with colour, sport with fun. More engaging and approachable maybe. We like the word inclusive as well." Whether there is room in the market for a cheaper, more family orientated alternative to Sky is the £1bn question for BT executives. Sky, not used to losing and having seen off pretenders including Setanta and ESPN, is already fighting back by tying up all its most important rights for as long as possible and training its guns on its new rival. The other big names who will appear alongside Humphrey are expected to be unveiled on Thursday, but the presenter believes that BT owes Gary Neville, Sky's star signing who has breathed new life into its coverage, a debt of thanks. "What is brilliant is that Gary stepping straight out of the most famous dressing room in the country and on to TV opens us up to pretty much every player who is looking to retire. That is brilliant for the fans at home," says Humphrey. "For a long time it felt like pretty much every pundit managed or played 10 years ago. There was a real generation gap. Now, the feeling is that we need someone who has just stepped out of a big dressing room." Sky revolutionised sports broadcasting when Rupert Murdoch bet the farm on Premier League rights 22 years ago, but Humphrey believes there are things BT can do to subtly move it forward again. The cavernous studio will play host to a half-sized football pitch, where pundits will demonstrate what players did or didn't do correctly and there are other technological innovations planned that marry broadband interactivity with live coverage. "With me being in my early 30s I'm not scared of technology, I've grown up with it – playing computer games and doing all that stuff. I want to delve into that. But at the same time, we don't want to lose the human element," says Humphrey. The biggest winners in the battle between BT and Sky are likely to be the Premier League, which has banked a total of £5.5bn for its TV rights over the next three years. Its executives are rubbing their hands

Vice All News Time09 May 2013 09:09:48


New global rugby sevens tournament to be staged at Twickenham

08 May 2013 00:04:15 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• Ambitious 12-team event will feature four English clubs • Others will come from New Zealand, Australia, US and Russia An ambitious new club rugby tournament involving sides from around the world is to be launched this summer in a bid to capitalise on the sport's increasing global appeal. The Auckland Blues, the Western Province Stormers, the ACT Brumbies and teams from Russia and the United States are set to join four English clubs in the inaugural event at Twickenham on 17-18 August. A total of 12 seven-a-side teams will initially be involved, with the matches televised by BT Sport, who are poised to take over the broadcasting of the English domestic game from Sky. Teams from New York, Los Angeles, Moscow and Buenos Aires have been invited, ensuring a worldwide event which the organisers hope will become an annual fixture. The tournament, which will be officially announced on Wednesday, also reflects the rising interest in sevens as it prepares for Olympic inclusion in 2016. "It'll be 12 teams this year but I expect it to expand," said Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, the driving force behind the new concept. "Rugby is about to enter a unique era for the sport with sevens at the forefront of what we believe will be a huge growth in all forms of the game." No title sponsors have yet been confirmed but McCafferty is convinced that the idea will prove popular with rugby fans. "We think some of the clubs and provincial sides will prove big attractions at that time of year and we feel the market is going to grow," he said. "Given the population in London we would hope for a good-sized crowd. We're determined to make sure we have a really professional competition that has real prestige for the winners." The English clubs will be selected this year by a mixture of domestic play-offs and invitation but, ultimately, McCafferty visualises every competing country staging its own qualification event in advance. "What we'd love to do, in time, is have everyone qualifying for it on merit through their own domestic sevens championships." He also insists the tournament will not suffer by comparison with events such as this weekend's Marriott London Sevens, which feature international teams. "That's the same as saying it's not worth having a European Cup because it's never going to be as good as a Test match. As a tribal following builds up you'll see a standard of club and provincial sevens that will be as good, if not better, than the club and international game. We're trying to bring together the established and the emerging rugby worlds. "It is fairly uncharted territory for everyone and there is more of a blank sheet of paper in terms of creating competitions. We think people in the north and the south will want to see these kind of fixtures.Rugby's long-awaited return to the Olympics means that many of the players who could be battling it out for gold in Rio in 2016 will be on show at Twickenham. This is one of the ways sevens is having an impact on the game." BT Sport Rugby union Robert Kitson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time08 May 2013 00:04:15