Ruling bodies appeal to keep rugby and cricket off 'crown jewels' TV list
ECB and RFU said adding to the list of free-to-air TV sporting events will divert funds away from the 'grassroots' level
Tuesday 27 October 2009
The ECB has suggested the cost of adding the Ashes to the 'crown jewels' list will be about £140m.
The English Cricket Board and Rugby Football Union have made a last-minute plea against adding to the "crown jewels" list ahead of a government review of which sporting events must be shown on free-to-air TV, due to be delivered within the next week.
Speaking at a Westminster Media Forum event in London today, attended by David Davies – the former FA executive leading the review – the ECB and the RFU argued that the price of sports rights should be determined by the market and that "exposure does not pay salaries".
Both sports bodies said the result of listing more events that must be shown on free-to-air TV would mean less money for their sports at "grassroots" level and fewer high-profile events such as women's cricket and rugby's annual Varsity match.
The RFU chief executive, Francis Baron, said: "What happens if the free-to-air market is not able to provide the revenue to provide our support for grassroots?
"Exposure does not pay salaries. At the moment only the BBC has the money. Channel 4, Five and ITV are out of the market because of their structural problems."
The ECB has already written to Davies to protest against the likely decision to add the Ashes to the list and argues that the full financial implications of such a move have not been fully costed. The ECB has suggested the cost of adding the Ashes to the "crown jewels" list will be about £140m.
However, critics queried how much of the cost of "grassroots" support to under-16s is being met by the ECB and how much by public funding.
Davies is due to deliver his report after this weekend. When asked if adding to the listed events would prove a "significant risk", he said: "You'll have to wait and see."
The BSkyB director of policy and public affairs, David Wheeldon, said: "Listing is essentially a tax. Adding to the list carries very significant risks [for sports bodies]."
Dominic Coles, the BBC's journalism chief operating officer, confirmed that the corporation will carry all the live action from the 2012 Olympics and said: "I think the list works and protects the major national events. Pay TV is about exclusivity and that's the critical point."
The events which currently have to be made available to free-to-air broadcasters at a "fair and reasonable price" are: Scottish FA Cup; FA Cup final in England and Wales; Rugby World Cup; European football championships (in full); Football World Cup (in full); The Derby; Grand National; Rugby League's Challenge Cup final; Wimbledon finals and the Olympics in their entirety.