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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
ECB supports television contract
A television camera
The England and Wales Cricket Board has defended its decision to award the TV right for the national team's games to BSkyB in a 220m deal.

The ECB has been heavily criticised for the move, which means no live cricket on terrestrial TV from 2006 to 2009.

But Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB's marketing committee and the man behind the deal, told BBC Sport: "We can't run the sport on thin air.

"We are running a sport that has to be paid for."

BSkyB won the battle for the rights despite bids from Channel 4, who have been showing live coverage of the Ashes series this summer and get up to eight million viewers.

The two companies had previously shared the rights for England Test and one-day matches under a deal struck in 1999 worth 103m.

Clarke revealed Channel 4 had put forward five separate offers during the latest bidding process before "telling us 'that's it, there's no more money'."

But he described the deal with Sky as the only option.

Sport need to be able to have people to see it to survive
Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan
"If David Morgan [the ECB chairman] was to announce there was going to be a 40% cut in what England get for funding, a 40% cut in recreational sport and a 40% cut in all aspects surrounding cricket, we wouldn't have any cricket going on.

"If we had a 40% cut in the game, it would have meant the closure of half the counties and we would be struggling to fund (the academy at) Loughborough.

"The ECB has done what is legal and has enough money to ensure we can take the game forward.

"I can't tell you if it was a mistake but it was the only feasible thing we could do for the sport."

Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan described the ECB's decision as a "big mistake".

He added: "Two-thirds of British homes won't get cricket for four years and only a few hundred thousand will watch the matches on Sky.

"Sport needs to be able to have people to see it to survive but we simply couldn't match Sky's offer and we got to the point where it was the maximum offer we could have made."

Under the new agreement, the only cricket on terrestrial TV will be a daily highlights package on Five during home Test matches.

  • A Labour MP is to put forward a motion in Parliament to ensure Test cricket returns to terrestrial TV.

    John Grogan, the MP for Selby, said: "I will be putting forward a motion which will ask Tessa Jowell to review the list of the crown jewels of sport that must be given to terrestrial TV.

    "We need money from satellite TV but we need a presence on terrestrial TV.

    "The boys and girls playing cricket in the park last summer probably won't next summer."

    Jowell hints at cricket TV deal
    05 Sep 05 |  Ashes 2005
    MacLaurin wants TV deal changed
    03 Sep 05 |  Cricket
    Blow for terrestrial TV cricket
    23 Aug 05 |  Cricket
    ECB takes calculated gamble
    15 Dec 04 |  Cricket


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