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BBC Director General Greg Dyke
"There has to be a limit to what you can spend at any one time on sport"
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Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive
"It's not all about money, it's about more choice. Good news for the fans"
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The BBC's Neil Bennett
"Deep disappointment runs throughout the BBC"
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Culture Secretary Chris Smith
"It has different considerations from commercial broadcasters"
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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
BBC 'sour' over football deal
Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke: "The game isn't over yet"
The English Premier League has accused BBC director general Greg Dyke of "sour grapes" over the loss of televised highlights.

Mr Dyke said ITV's winning bid made "no economic sense" and admitted he had been confident that the BBC would win until ITV put together a last-minute package.


Big-money deal
BSkyB: 1.1b for 66 live matches plus 22.5m over three years
NTL: 32.8m for 40 pay-per-view matches
ITV 183m over three years for terrestrial highlights package
He accused Premier League chiefs of encouraging a late bidding war to push the price up. The BBC had increased its offer by 10m hours before the deadline, he said.

But Premier League spokesman Mike Lee defended the bidding process and said ITV was in the running from the start.

He said if the BBC had taken more care of its coverage over the past nine years, and hung on to presenter Des Lynam, it might have stood a better chance.

"This sounds like sour grapes," added Lee.

"The three winners have won fairly and squarely following a process that was open and clear to all broadcasters.



We hope to enjoy a successful season with the BBC but they should recognise that they were beaten by a better bid

Mike Lee
"The BBC have been important partners to the Premier League since 1992 but they should take a long, hard look at themselves at this moment.

"Sky Sports and ITV have forged innovative production and promotion for football coverage and that has been welcomed by football fans up and down the country."

ITV's controller of legal and business affairs, Simon Johnson, said ITV's bid was made by the Premier League's first-round 10 May deadline and it submitted a sealed bid on Wednesday - 13 minutes before the final deadline.

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme he could "categorically deny" suggestions that ITV's bid was raised substantially at the last minute.

Mr Johnson added that he had "no idea" where the BBC could have got details about the size of ITV's offer before sealed bids were opened.

BBC acting director of sport Richard Sambrook said Mr Dyke's information had come from senior figures within the independent company.


lineker
Gary Lineker: Replaced Des Lynam on Match of the Day
The BBC currently pays 20m a year for the Premier League highlights rights. It bid 40m a year compared with ITV's 61m winning offer to show them from the start of the 2001 season.

From the 2001-02 season, ITV will be able to show two weekend Premier League highlight shows - one on Saturday evening and the other on Sunday.

Mr Dyke said many Premier League club chairman were angry and disappointed the BBC had lost out.

"It was not what they wanted to happen."

Showcase

Mr Dyke now wants Match of the Day to be "a showcase for live football".

"We are still very hopeful the FA Cup, Worthington Cup, and England internationals will return to the BBC," he said.

Mr Dyke said: "When I got the job I said I would try and win some sports rights back. The game isn't over yet."

The BBC said it did not match ITV's bid because of its duty to licence fee-payers.

To do so would have taken half the corporation's entire annual sports budget, said BBC director of marketing and communications, Matthew Bannister.

The BBC could not justify such a large chunk of the licence fee going straight into the pockets of the Premier League clubs, Mr Bannister said. BSkyB has retained its coverage of live matches under a new deal after bidding 1.2bn over three years.

Cable operator NTL has won the rights to a new package to screen around 40 matches on a pay-per-view basis, in a deal which could net the top clubs massive revenues.

The rights to show live games, highlights, and pay-per-view matches, were hotly contested by digital providers and terrestrial channels.

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | UK Politics
MPs condemn BBC for football loss
14 Jun 00 | FA Carling Premiership
BBC anger over football deal
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