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Page last updated at 05:30 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 06:30 UK

England match to be internet only

WORLD CUP QUALIFIER: Ukraine v England
Venue: Dnipro Arena Date: Saturday, 10 October Kick off: 1715 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website, video available at ukrainevengland.com (subscription required)


Frank Lampard and John Terry
The England match will be limited to a maximum of one million subscribers

England's World Cup qualifier in Ukraine on Saturday will be shown exclusively live to subscribers on the internet who will pay at least £4.99.

All previously broadcast England matches have been available on TV.

Kentaro - an international agency appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation - originally sold the UK rights for the game to Setanta.

But after the pay-TV firm collapsed, digital sport specialist Perform was appointed to stream the match online.

The match will be shown on the website www.ukrainevengland.com and viewers will be able to subscribe to it using PayPal, the electronic payment service.

England have already qualified for the 2010 World Cup, winning all eight of their group matches.

606: DEBATE
Homesick

It is understood none of the traditional broadcasters were willing to pay the asking price to screen the game, which kicks off at 1715 BST.

But the news has angered supporters who want to watch the action on television.

Peter Silverstone, managing director of Kentaro, told BBC Sport: "You will watch as you would any other streaming on the internet, like YouTube or the BBC iPlayer.

"There will be a pop-up player that will show the match in a very good quality stream."

Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson is part of the studio team for the match, while Kentaro has promised "a top commentary team".

The cost of watching the game was being advertised on Monday in the Daily Express as £4.99 if viewers signed up before midnight on Wednesday.

Charges rise to £9.99 for those who subscribe on Thursday and Friday, and £11.99 on Saturday.

Similar prices were advertised on the website of the Daily Telegraph, which promised a "high-quality stream available on Mac and PC".

Adrian Bevington

FA does not control away rights - Bevington

Silverstone insisted the project was "commercially viable".

"We have a huge marketing effort behind us with the various newspaper groups that will promote the match on their websites," he said.

"Commercially this will work and genuinely offers an exciting opportunity for us. We wouldn't embark on this project if we didn't feel it had strategic long-term value, this isn't a one-off shot."

Silverstone said Kentaro would take a maximum of one million subscribers for the match - which he said equates to about 2.5m viewers - because this would be the "safe number to stop at to ensure the optimal broadcast".

The Odeon cinema chain will show the game live at 11 venues around the country, including at their flagship cinema at Leicester Square, but the match will not be available in pubs.

Football Association spokesman Adrian Bevington said his organisation "would obviously like to see the game broadcast to as many people as possible" but insisted the matter was out of the FA's hands.

"These are the rights of the Ukrainian FA and the agents they've appointed to sell them," he told BBC Sport.

"A traditional TV platform would be ideal to broadcast the game but it's not the case. It's not in our control."

In the future it'll probably be the reality. I think it's a good way to gauge how many people are interested

Rio Ferdinand
England defender

ITV has the rights to home England games and, under the terms of their contract, has taken over Setanta's broadcast rights for away friendlies.

However, that aspect of the deal does not cover away qualifying games, and neither the BBC, ITV, Sky nor Channel Five made a successful bid for the match.

Perform streamed Manchester City and Spurs matches in the Uefa Cup last year when a TV deal could not be agreed, charging about £4 per game.

Bevington insisted: "We're obviously confident in the company that has got the rights - they're a very professional company".

However, travelling England fan Mark Perryman said the fact the match was available only on the internet was "disastrous and an outrage".

"A World Cup qualifier should be available for everybody on free-to-air TV," he told BBC Sport.

"It seems to me there's a very simple solution - Fifa and Uefa should insist as a condition of entry that all nations sell their games to terrestrial stations, whether its the home or away market."

England defender Rio Ferdinand said he thought the broadcasting of the match marked "a good step forward".

England web match an outrage - Perryman

"I read that online advertising has taken over from TV, so that tells you something about where it's going in terms of the digital world," he told BBC Sport.

"So I'm sure it'll be the way forward and in the future it'll probably be the reality. I think it's a good way to gauge how many people are interested."

Andrew Croker, executive chairman of Perform, insisted England fans would "embrace" the internet broadcast.

"I think consumers are pretty sophisticated now, particularly in the UK, where we have been in the vanguard of adopting new technology," he told BBC Sport.

"I think people want a choice - the chance to watch football in a different way. This is pioneering, very exciting and I think people will enjoy it."



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see also
Walcott left out of England squad
04 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Fit players key to 2010 - Capello
03 Oct 09 |  Internationals


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