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Mar 21, 2013

Montenegro-England in risk of TV blackout

Uncertainty surrounds the broadcast rights for Tuesday night's key World Cup qualifier between Montenegro and England - and there is an outside chance that the match will not be shown in Britain.

ITV bought the rights to show the game from Kentaro, but the Montengro FA has since ended its agreement with that media company and signed a deal with SportFive to distribute the game internationally. That means the fee ITV has paid to Kentaro, which according to the Guardian is £500,000-£750,000, must be recovered and a new deal struck with SportFive.

Rights to all England's home matches are owned by ITV through a deal with the Football Association, but away matches are on open sale on a match-by-match basis. SportFive could yet decide to offer the rights to other TV channels or, as was seen for England's 2010 World Cup qualifier in Ukraine, show the game on the internet.

ITV are still advertising live coverage of the match in their listings and a spokesman said: "We are working with SportFive towards securing the rights and we're looking forward to screening the match."

Two points separate Montenegro, who top the group, and England with the match in Podgorica expected to be crucial in determining who tops the group and takes the automatic berth for Brazil 2014.

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