Football: League Issues Warning over Crisis at ITV Digital

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FOOTBALL League chairman Keith Harris warned of 'widespread bankruptcies' if ITV Digital back out of their television deal.

The warning comes after the League yesterday threw out proposals from ITV Digital and parent companies Carlton and Granada to renegotiate the pounds 315million TV deal signed last year.

The League insist they will pursue payment even if the station is shut down and will not be held to ransom by ITV Digital.

With some chairmen predicting a third of league clubs will go to the wall if the three-year contract is not honoured, yesterday's board meeting of the Football League rejected a new offer outright.

ITV Digital's owners, Granada and Carlton, say the financially-stricken TV station faces closure unless clubs accept less money and have offered pounds 25million a year for the remaining two years of the deal, instead of the previously agreed pounds 89.25million per year.

The matter is now likely to end up in court, and could have repercussions affecting ITV's Champions League deal, which runs out next year. Currently, live matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are screened by ITV Digital.

But Harris warned: 'Nobody should be in any doubt that if this contract is not honoured there will be widespread bankruptcies in many local communities. …