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ITV Digital Spurn Grimsby!

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 29/06/2001

THE MARINERS have been spurned by the new ITV Digital channel, with no game involving Grimsby Town being scheduled by the TV station during the first half of next season. The fledging enterprise is paying a record £316m over three years for exclusive coverage of Nationwide League fixtures.

Mariners fans can hardly be surprised by the lack of coverage, with Town traditionally being football's equivalent of a leper to the TV companies over the years.

During their eras of televising Football League games, ITV and Sky Sports likewise rarely screened Grimsby fixtures more often than the minimum number of games stipulated in their respective contracts with the League.

At the start of last season Sky lost the rights to the Nationwide League to ONdigital causing great confusion amongst fans about exactly what equipment you need to see live fixtures this year.

At the time of writing the only guaranteed way to watch most Nationwide League live games next season is believed to be to subscribe to ONdigital itself, although Sky, NTL, Telewest and the rest of the cable companies may make the channel available to their customers at some point in the future if demand from armchair supporters is sufficient.

The ONdigital press release however paints a different story.

The ITV Sports Channel, which is exclusive to ITV Digital, formally known as ONdigital is set to usher in a new era for Nationwide League fans. It will bring the depth of sports programming to Football League fans that has so far only been available to Premiership supporters.

Among the comprehensive package of programming being lined up includes for the very first time a Saturday night "Match-of-the Day" style show dedicated to the First Division which will enable fans to see extended highlights and extensive analysis from that day’s games.

Separate Second and Third Division review and analysis show are also planned as well as a host of other programming that Football League fans have been missing for the past decade.

The channel will show 65 Live Division One games, up to 15 Division two and three matches and 15 Worthington cup ties, as well as 40 live matches from the world’s most prestigious club competition, the UEFA Champions League

Some limited coverage of the Nationwide League and Worthington Cup is also available to ITV's free-to-air viewers at network and regional level.

The full list of scheduled live games is as follows:

DateHome AwayTimeCompetition
Sat 11-AugManchester CityvWatford6.15pmDiv 1
Sun 12-AugSheffield WednesdayvBurnley6.15pmDiv 1
Thu 16-AugRushden & DiamondsvLincoln7.45pmDiv 3
Sun 19-AugCoventryvWolves6.15pmDiv 1
Mon 20-AugHartlepoolvNottingham Forest7.45pmWC
Wed 22-AugCambridgevWest Brom7.45pmWC
Thu 23-AugRotherhamvSheffield United7.45pmDiv 1
Thu 30-AugQPRvBristol City7.45pmDiv 2
Sun 09-SepWatfordvWimbledon6.15pmDiv 1
Thu 20-SepNottingham ForestvBradford7.45pmDiv 1
Sun 23-SepBirminghamvPreston6.15pmDiv 1
Fri 28-SepBarnsleyvPortsmouth7.45pmDiv 1
Sun 30-SepWatfordvPreston6.15pmDiv 1
Thu 04-OctTranmerevBlackpool7.45pmDiv 1
Sun 07-OctSheffield WednesdayvSheffield United6.15pmDiv 1
Thu 11-OctWest BromvMillwall7.45pmDiv 1
Sun 14-OctWalsallvCoventry6.15pmDiv 1
Fri 19-OctNorwichvWest Brom7.45pmDiv 1
Sun 21-OctCoventryvCrewe6.15pmDiv 1
Sun 28-OctNottingham ForestvMan City6.15pmDiv 1

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