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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 22:29 GMT 23:29 UK
Irish fans fury over Sky deal
The Republic of Ireland soccer team line up at Lansdowne Road
Television coverage will now cost Irish fans
A row has broken out over the Football Association of Ireland's decision to agree a four-year deal for the Republic's home matches with Sky Television.

The decision means that Irish soccer fans will have to pay to watch the games live, rather than watching them on the national station RTE.

Irish commercial television station TV3 will screen the internationals one hour after the final whistle.


The FAI is delighted with the deal with Sky Television
FAI Treasurer John Delaney

The new arrangement comes into effect for the upcoming Euro 2004 qualifiers in September.

But the FAI's decision has been met with anger by supporters groups while the Irish Sports Minister John O'Donoghue was "disappointed" by the move.

O'Donoghue was "disappointed that the new arrangement with Sky could have the impact of depriving many of the Irish fans of the opportunity of seeing the national team playing live in international competition," a spokesman said.

"He has no doubt that these sentiments will be shared by fans of this great Irish team throughout the length and breadth of the country," the spokesman added.


This is a sad day for Irish soccer
Irish Football Supporters Association's Alan Hunter

RTE and Sky have shared the live rights in the past meaning Irish fans in Great Britain have been able to watch the games on the satellite station.

John Delaney, honorary treasurer of the FAI said: "The FAI is delighted with the deal with Sky Television.

"Sky has consistently invested significant resources in televising football and has produced football programmes on the highest quality.

"Sky has been the Association's partner for exclusive live international matches across the UK for the last two years and this has been a very successful partnership.

Livid

"Sky's approach has been a major factor in enhancing the image of football."

Alan Hunter, of the Irish Football Supporters Association, said fans were "livid" about the decision.

"It is the saddest day for Irish soccer," he said.

FAI general secretary Brendan Menton said the move would benefit supporters.

He said: "They are going to have two opportunities now to see international matches. I think the quality of production that Sky and TV3 can bring to these matches is great."

See also:

05 Jul 02 | Northern Ireland
02 Jul 02 | Sunderland
18 Jun 02 | Rep of Ireland
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