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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Football frenzy for armchair fans
Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates a goal against Fulham last season
Man Utd are likely to remain at the mercy of schedulers
Armchair fans will have access to more football than ever before from the start of the 2004/2005 season.

The BBC learned in June that it had retained live rights for England matches and the FA Cup, a package which it shares with Sky.

And on Friday it was told that its bid for Premier League highlights had also been successful.

As a result, the fans' favourite will be back in its traditional slot on Saturday and Sunday nights.

There is also an increase in the number of live matches - from 106 to 138 per season.

In order to satisfy EU competition concerns, the Premier League offered the live games in four packages to give different broadcasters a chance to bid.

The first package was for 38 "first-choice" games on Sunday afternoons, and the second group was for 38 games on Monday nights.

HOW THE WEEKEND WILL LOOK
Sat 1300 Settle down for the first half of the first game - a "third pick"
Sat 1500 Watch your own team play
Sat 1815 Dash back to catch the second half of the second game
Sat 2230 See highlights of all the day's games
Sun 1600 Watch a "first pick" game live
Sun 2230 Tuck into some more highlights
Mon 2000 Back down the pub for another "second pick" game

The third and fourth packages were for 31 "third and fourth picks" that would be broadcast on Saturday at 1300 and 1715.

But despite the tinkering with the bidding process, and the greater number of games on offer, satellite broadcaster Sky dug deepest once again and will show all four live games from Saturday to Monday.

The main change for couch potatoes will be the two live games on Saturdays.

Whether lower division clubs that attract occasional support from their bigger neighbours will be so happy with the prospect of two live Premier League games on Saturdays is another question.

But Sunday lunches with the family will be easier to schedule with one less game to worry about, so it's not all bad.




SEE ALSO
Premiership back on the BBC
08 Aug 03  |  Premiership
BBC retains TV rights
10 Jul 03  |  Football


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