Crown Green Bowls is to make a return to free-to-air television in September with live coverage of one of the sport’s longest-running events to be broadcast on ITV4.
This year’s Waterloo Championship, the UK’s biggest crown green competition, will receive more than 14 hours of live coverage on ITV4 on September 15-16, thanks to a new £50,000 sponsorship deal with Co-operative Funeralcare.
Taking place annually at the Blackpool Waterloo Hotel Bowling Green, the 2015 tournament will be the first to be shown on terrestrial TV for more than 20 years.
In addition to seven hours of live coverage each day of the Waterloo Handicap finals, covering the last 16 phase to the grand final, plus the women’s final, ITV4 will also air a series of highlight programmes rounding up the best moments from the competition.
Rishi Persad will present ITV4’s live coverage from Blackpool, starting at 10.00am on both days, with expert commentary and analysis provided by David Corkill, Mel Evans, Andy Cairns, and five-time winner Gary Ellis.
Considered by many within the sport as the most prestigious tournament in the crown green bowls calendar, the Waterloo tournament has been in existence since 1907.
The tournament was last televised by the BBC in 1989, at a time when bowls, particularly crown green, was much more widely televised on terrestrial television. Sky Sports did take over coverage of the event in the 1990s.
Crown green bowls remains a much loved sporting tradition in communities throughout the UK, watched and played by over 150,000 officially registered members of the British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA) across over 2,540 affiliated clubs.
Commenting on the event’s return to TV, Mel Evans, BCGBA Commercial Officer, said: “This is the best news Crown Green Bowling has received for many years.
“We have been in discussion with ITV4 and The Co-operative Funeralcare for some time and are delighted to the sponsorship is now in place.
“It’s been 26 years since the sport has been on terrestrial television and hopefully this will attract newcomers to Crown Green Bowls.”
Mark Audin, Waterloo Bowls Manager, said “Crown Green Bowls needed television coverage to bring it back into the public eye so this is fantastic news.
“We now need the Crown Green fraternity to come along and support the Waterloo – let’s get a big crowd in the stadium to show the public what a unique atmosphere Crown Green Bowls can generate.”
John Taylor, Community Engagement Manager for Co-operative Funeralcare, added: “We’ve long supported the bowls as a sporting tradition at the heart of thousands of communities across the UK.
“We hope that this new sponsorship will come as a further boost not just to bowling but also to local communities by encouraging thousands of viewers to also get directly involved with their local bowls club.”
As well as ITV4’s coverage, which will be available to watch live on ITV Player, there will be live online streaming of the opening day of competition on Monday, September 14, via Globegig Media TV, with the website also featuring the Finals draw live on Friday, August 28, at 7.30pm.