Sportscene future in doubt after SPFL threat to end BBC deal

SPL chairman Ralph Topping issued the warning. Picture: SNS
SPL chairman Ralph Topping issued the warning. Picture: SNS
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The SPFL could be set to pull the plug on BBC Scotland’s live football radio coverage and Sportscene highlights programme.

League chairman Ralph Topping issued the threat following negotiations between both parties on a new deal.

BBC Scotland currently pays £1.4 million a year for the rights to televise highlights on Sportscene and online, along with Radio Scotland’s live coverage.

Rangers are back in the top flight next season and Topping insists the Beeb needs to up its offer to between £3m and £4m for the new campaign. The SPFL chairman has previously claimed Scottish football was being short-changed, with the current deal dwarfed by the sums paid by the BBC to English clubs for FA Cup games and highlights on Match of the Day.

“From the meetings that we’ve held with the clubs, the divisional and general meetings, there is an absolute view that they [BBC Scotland] will have to come up with a significant offer,” Topping told The Times. “In my view that offer would need to be north of £3m. Between £3m and £4m. Bear in mind it’s the national competition and this year the league has shown itself to be exciting. There will be excitement right through the league next season also. I think that has to be reflected in the price, and the BBC has to show a commitment to the national game in Scotland.

“I think there is a question mark over the attitude of the BBC to Scotland and it is vital that those in Scotland demonstrate that they are fighting the cause because others here would say ‘no, they’re not fighting the cause, they’re not banging the drum’.”

Ewan Angus, BBC Scotland’s commissioning editor, said Topping’s comments were “unhelpful”.

He said: “We are in the midst of negotiations at the moment and it’s not particularly helpful that Mr Topping chooses to comment in this way.”

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