RTE to broadcast qualifiers played on different days
Uefa confirms that games will be spread out to accommodate broadcasters as Montrose secures deal for Ireland’s next two campaigns
Qualifying games played by Irish football teams will continue to be broadcast on free-to-air television after the new centralised Uefa television rights’ deal comes into force next year but kick-off times and match days will be more varied, according to the organisation’s chief executive, Gianni Infantino, who was addressing the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester yesterday.
RTÉ later confirmed that it has signed a deal to broadcast Ireland’s qualifiers for the next two campaigns and Infantino said that European broadcasters have been “very enthusiastic” about the idea of a centralised deal with games spread out so that more can be televised. “We thought that they may be only interested in covering their own national team but we have seen that when Germany play, when Spain play, when France play – football fans want to watch them wherever they are.”
The Republic of Ireland is one of 30 countries in which an umbrella deal with the European Broadcasting Union has ensured that the national team’s competitive games are “free to air” but Infantino said that starting with Euro 2016, qualifiers will be staggered over the course of a “week of football”.
Essentially, international fixtures will take place between Thursdays and Tuesdays with weekday games kicking off at 7.45pm while those on Saturdays and Sundays start at either that time or earlier, at 5pm.
Where doubles headers are involved, teams playing on a Thursday will play again Sunday. Similarly sides might be scheduled to play either on Friday and Monday or Saturday and Tuesday.
Under the terms of the initial four-year deal, the FAI is expected to receive €10 million annually although it will lose most of its current broadcast income and the new arrangements may have an impact on its other commercial revenues.
Meanwhile, Anthony Elding said he was delighted to have won the Airtricity/ Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month award for March but not half as chuffed, one suspects, as everyone at Sligo Rovers must be with the performances that have earned the 30-year-old the accolade.
Elding’s early form has been sensational, with nine goals in eight competitive games leaving the champions five points clear of Derry at the top of the table and already 12 ahead of Shamrock Rovers.
“I’m over the moon about the award,” he said. “As a striker, you want to score a few goals and have an impact on games, but I didn’t think it would go this well so early on and it’s quite special considering I was close to giving the game up not that long ago.
“At the moment I feel that we’re head and shoulders above everybody else,” continued the striker, who has played at just about every level outside of the Premier League in England an also had a spell with Ferencvaros in Hungary.