The Epsom Derby and the Rugby League Cup Final are rumoured to be among the victims in a shake up of the Listed Events ruling, which governs which sporting events must be broadcast on a free-to-air channel.
According to media reports, the independent panel currently undertaking the review is set to recommend that the list be shortened but should include the Ashes, Wimbledon and international football qualifying matches.
The review, being led by former FA executive director David Davies, is thought to be on the verge of unveiling a radical shake-up of the list resulting in a shorter but more coherent list of events that must be available on free-to-air television in either highlights or live form.
According to speculation, the proposed revamp would include the whole of the Wimbledon tournament, rather than just the finals, as well as rugby union internationals in Wales.
In the event of the amendments being confirmed, governing bodies are preparing to go on the attack, arguing the new rules will severely damage their ability to fund grassroots sport.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has already stated that the £300m Sky pays for exclusive rights has enabled a huge investment programme in state schools, community clubs and the women’s game while the Scottish Football Association has claimed it will lose £12m a year.
While the likes of the FA Cup final and the Olympics will remain on the live A-list, the so-called B-list, for highlights, is likely to be axed altogether.
Following 10 months of hearings, research and input from overseas, the panel’s conclusions will be delivered to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and published within a week. It is expected that a frenzied 12-week period of consultation will follow.
Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, who will ultimately decide whether to accept the panel’s recommendations, will have to enforce any changes on to the statute book ahead of next year’s general election.
Davies is also likely to recommend that the issue is re-examined on a more regular basis than the existing 10-year cycle, with the digital switchover in 2012 looming.
Source: Sport Industry Group