To us here at Clarets Mad it always looked as though it was going to be a disaster and it looks as though little has gone right for the ill fated venture by ITV. If a television company wishes to make money that I have always assumed that they need people watching their channels and this was never going to happen for a channel that very few are able to receive.
Most of us could go out and buy a set top box for a digital aerial system but it has to be realised that the bulk of people interested in watching football on television have already committed themselves to either satellite or cable. The only way this channel was ever going to work was to make it available to all.
One cable company, ntl:, did take it but there is still no sign of it appearing on either Telewest or Sky and without that I am convinced it continues to be doomed to failure. The Football League chairmen recently appealed for Sky to carry the channel but unless ITV Digital lower their financial demands this is not going to happen.
Now back to Burnley and our budgeting. Carlton and Granada jointly own ITV Digital and they have now told the Football League that they want to renegotiate for the second and third years. Under the terms of the contract they should be paying a further £180 million but are now believed to be offering only £50 million.
Barry Kilby has already said that new deals for players such as Glen Little and Arthur Gnohere, couple with new signings, have been done with the assumption that the TV money was guaranteed. It no longer is and the way things are looking I wouldn't be surprised to see the Football League off the air by the time next season starts.
Would the ITV Sport channel work now if it was to suddenly appear as a satellite channel? I'm not so sure any longer, the amount of football on television is now beyond a joke. A couple of weeks ago it was possible to watch five live matches on one day almost one after the other. The overkill will see lots of it disappear and soon and the Football League will certainly be off the air long before the Premiership.
Watch for the Phoenix beginning to rise again as the clubs leading its way realise that there is going to be even less for them within the current deals.
Bury Football Club won a stay of execution last week but with the game having set itself up to run on television money in the last decade it is now set for a major overhaul. There will be no more deals as good as the current deals and cloth is going to have to be cut accordingly. That is going to come sooner than they thought.