FA plead innocence in England broadcast row

THE Football Association has pleaded innocence in the decision not to televise England&rsquo;s World Cup qualifier with Ukraine, insisting the matter was out of their hands.<br /><br />Saturday&rsquo;s match at the Dnipro Stadium is the first international not broadcast on television but is available exclusively to subscribers online.<br /><br />The decision has been met with widespread anger from fans, but FA director of communications Adrian Bevington says it was brought on by the Ukrainian Football Association who sold the broadcast rights.<br /><br />The game was originally sold to Setanta Sports, but after the collapse of the pay-TV station in the summer, the event was appointed to digital sport specialist Perform to stream online. As a result, the match, which kicks off at 5.15pm, will only be shown on www.ukrainevengland.com to subscribers using electronic payment service, PayPal, at a cost of &pound;4.99 initially, rising to &pound;11.99 for late subscribers.<br /><br />Bevington explained: &ldquo;We would obviously like to see the game broadcast to as many people as possible but these are the rights of the Ukrainian FA and the agents they&rsquo;ve appointed to sell them. A traditional TV platform would be ideal to broadcast the game but it&rsquo;s not the case. It&rsquo;s not in our control.&rdquo;<br /><br />Loyal England fan Mark Perryman described the decision as &ldquo;disastrous and an outrage&rdquo;, blasting: &ldquo;A World Cup qualifier should be available for everybody on free-to-air TV. It seems to me there&rsquo;s a very simple solution &ndash; Fifa and Uefa should insist as a condition of entry that all nations sell their games to terrestrial stations, whether it&rsquo;s the home or away market.&rdquo;<br /><br />Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson is part of the studio team for the match and agents Kentaro, who are setting a cap at one million vieweres to protect streaming quality, insist that internet screening of matches is the way forward.<br /><br />&ldquo;In six months or a year&rsquo;s time this will be ordinary business,&rdquo; said chief executive Philipp Grothe. &ldquo;I have received a lot of calls from people around the globe who are looking into this. It&rsquo;s not a one-off trial here.&rdquo;<br /><br />Andrew Croker, executive chairman of Perform, added: &ldquo;I think consumers are pretty sophisticated now, particularly in the UK, where we have been in the vanguard of adopting new technology. I think people want a choice &ndash; the chance to watch football in a different way. This is pioneering, very exciting and I think people will enjoy it.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>PERFORM WHO ARE THEY?</strong><br />&bull; Formed by the merger of Premium TV and the Inform Group in 2007.<br />&bull; Based in Middlesex and jointly owned with Access Industries, they are leaders in monetising sport and entertainment rights in digital media.<br />&bull; Streamed over 7,200 sports events online in the second quarter of this year across 65 different websites.