BBC Scotland secures four-year SPFL highlights deal

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BBC Scotland has agreed a new four-year deal with the Scottish Professional Football League to cover matches across TV, radio and online.

The agreement means BBC Sport Scotland will continue to provide TV and online highlights of Ladbrokes Premiership, Championship, League 1 and League 2 matches from 2016/17 season onwards.

There will be enhanced match coverage on BBC Scotland’s popular Sunday night Sportscene programme, as well as additional social media clips, highlights on the BBC Sport Scotland website and live radio commentary on Sportsound.

The BBC TV deal, reportedly worth £10.6million over four years, comes after a series of rows between the corporation and Scottish football regarding the terms of a new agreement.

Figures with Scottish football such as SPFL chairman Ralph Topping criticised the terms of the current deal, accusing the national broadacster of “short-changing” Scottish football, in light of the corporation’s multi-million pound deal for English Premier League highlights.

The BBC hit back at the claim, criticising the comments as “unhelpful” and insisting that he had himself welcomed the deal when it was signed.

Now an improved TV contract with the corporation has been agreed, which is thought to worth nearly double the previous amount.

Commenting on the new deal, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “This is fantastic news for Scottish football fans.

“Everyone at the SPFL is delighted that our longstanding partnership with BBC Scotland has been extended by another four years in this new and significantly improved deal for both parties.

“During the process of negotiating with the BBC, the SPFL Board has been very robust and clear in its view of what we believe Scottish football coverage is worth and we are pleased that this has been taken on board and reflected by an improved agreement.

“As part of that we’re also delighted that supporters will see enhanced match coverage which we’ll provide to the BBC as part of the new contract.

“We look forward to working with BBC Scotland’s excellent team of sports producers and journalists in the four years ahead, covering our national sport and bringing the very best of the SPFL action to TV and radio audiences.”

Specific terms of the new deal will include more cameras at Scottish Premiership matches, with the hope of improving the quality of coverage provided.

Up until now, all non live TV matches have been covered by two cameras as part of a contractual agreement with the SPFL.

As part of the enhanced deal, the league must now undertake to provide at least four or five cameras at all games as part of a process which will be phased in over the next year.

Sportscene will continue to be broadcast on Sunday nights, in order to include as many SPFL matches as possible, but bosses will have the option to move the show to earlier in the evening than the current 10.30pm time slot.

The new BBC contract, approved by all Ladbrokes Premiership clubs and the SPFL board, comes as the Scottish top flight welcomes the return of Glasgow Rangers to the division for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

BBC Scotland’s head of sport Ewan Angus also welcomed the new four-year deal.

“We’re extremely pleased to extend our important partnership with the SPFL over the next four years.

“BBC Scotland’s main aim was to provide supporters with improved coverage while also ensuring we get value for money for everyone who pays the Licence Fee.

“We firmly believe this new deal will benefit Scottish football as a whole by enhancing Sportscene’s match highlights through increased camera provision and also allowing us to offer footage for fans on social media.”

The announcement follows news earlier this season that Sky Sports and BT Sport will continue to broadcast live Ladbrokes Premiership matches until the end of season 2019/20.

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