Scottish clubs agree to BBC Alba showing ten games live

SCOTLAND'S leading rugby clubs have agreed to a new deal with BBC Alba that will see a total of ten games screened this season and all 12 clubs benefit financially.

The SRU have been in talks with the new Gaelic channel over screening club matches this season and they received the backing of the Premier One Forum at a meeting on Wednesday night.

The SRU remained tight-lipped yesterday, stating that the talks were still at a delicate stage and subject to confidentiality, and that clubs had been given a stern warning not to discuss the issue until it was signed and sealed.

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However, Gavin Hastings, the former Watsonians, Scotland and British and Irish Lions captain, said: "This is very welcome news for Scottish rugby. Any opportunity to showcase rugby on TV is important and if Alba step up to the plate then they need to be applauded by everyone in Scottish sport.

"The importance of television to rugby is all about marketing the game. If sponsors know they have a chance of being seen on TV that transfers into value for the club game. For many years when I played we had a lot of club rugby being covered, and it was no coincidence that there were a lot of advertising hoardings all around grounds and good sponsorship on the jerseys.

"So I welcome this news and, while I might have to brush up on my Gaelic, I believe that Alba will be a great medium to showcase our club game."

The Scotsman understands that Boroughmuir and Glasgow Hawks have already agreed to move fixtures to a Sunday. This was a key requirement of the plan to enable BBC Alba to utilise the full outside broadcast equipment being used on the same weekends at live football games, and ensure a professional and attractive package for rugby audiences.

The initial outline of seven Sunday matches has now been cut to five, with five also being screened live on Saturday afternoons, the split again being to dovetail with the live football being broadcast.

Agreement was also reached on a compensation package from the SRU, desperate to push the domestic game back on to TV, with a split that benefits all of the Division 1 clubs, but moreso those having to switch their matches from the traditional Saturday afternoons to accommodate TV.