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Oct 5, 2009

England game to be screened live on the internet

England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev on Saturday evening will be screened exclusively live over the internet in the UK for the first time ever.

• Supporters angry with decision

One-off subscription service Kentaro has secured the rights to the game, having been appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation after the original rights were sold to Setanta, and it will cost any potential viewers at least £4.99 to watch the match.

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.

The cost could rise to anything up to £11.99 if subscribers wait until Saturday to sign up - as the cheaper price is only available until Wednesday and there are a maximum of one million subscribers.

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

Chief executive of Kentaro, Philipp Grothe, said: "We have spoken to every traditional UK broadcaster and currently have no offer on the table. We therefore feel the internet delivers the most viable option to deliver an important England game directly to the fans. It will be the first time in history that an England game has had an exclusive web broadcast."

Despite the match being effectively a dead rubber for the Three Lions, after they qualified with two games to spare courtesy of an eighth straight win in the campaign over Croatia last time out, the move has angered many fans.

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

"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."

"We would obviously like to see the game broadcast to as many people as possible," FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said. "These are the rights of the Ukrainian FA and the agents they've appointed to sell them. A traditional TV platform would be ideal to broadcast the game but it's not the case. It's not in our control."

James Richardson will present Perform's live coverage of Saturday's game alongside former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, while David Pleat will be part of the commentary team. The game will also be available through the websites of several national newspapers.

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