RTE to seek FAI games agreement


RTÉ has indicated that it wants to avoid going to the courts to secure rights from the FAI to broadcast home soccer internationals live.

The State broadcaster lost the rights last year when the FAI made an agreement with Sky which confined live coverage of Republic of Ireland home games to the satellite broadcaster.

However, the Government intervened, passing new legislation to designate certain events for "free to air" broadcasts. That legislation came into effect last week, effectively superseding the FAI-Sky deal.

RTÉ said yesterday that it had contacted the relevant bodies with a view to reaching an agreement before Ireland's next home match in the European Championship qualifying series on June 7th, against Albania.

The legislation allows broadcasters to seek a High Court direction to provide access to games if they cannot agree commercial terms with a sporting organisation.

Worth about €12.5 million to the soccer body, the FAI-Sky deal valued the Irish rights to Ireland's home games in the European Championship at €7.5 million. The international rights to the games were worth €5 million.

The Irish Football Supporters Association said yesterday the Government should compensate the FAI, an option already ruled out by the Minister for Communications, Mr Ahern.

With the FAI projecting a €500,000 deficit this year, it is believed that the organisation will attempt to bundle the rights for all home games in the championship in order to maximise their potential value.

Sky has not made any public comment on the legislation.