UEFA Champions League 1999-2003 - live for ONdigital customers: Live British matches on Thursday nights

16th February 1999

From autumn 1999 ONdigital will be the only place you can be sure to see both the UEFA Champions League and the FA Carling Premiership live. The revamped UEFA Champions League will be televised live in partnership with ITV for the next four years by ONdigital.

ONdigital was determined to secure the top club championship in world football for its customers, who will be able to receive the signal through their ordinary TV aerial; with no need for a satellite dish or a cable connection.

The UEFA Champions League will involve 32 of Europe's top teams including at least the clubs finishing first and second in the FA Carling Premiership, with an opportunity for a third English team and the Scottish champions to qualify.

UEFA Champions League matches will be played on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.45pm. On Wednesday evenings ONdigital will show top foreign matches. On Thursday evenings it will show any matches involving British clubs live and will carry highlights on both Wednesday and Thursday nights and a weekly round-up programme. ITV will continue to show Wednesday night matches involving British clubs live.

With at least two English teams guaranteed to qualify, the Champions League will begin following summer qualifying matches, which may allow additional British teams to qualify. It will start with two series of matches in groups. The first series will consist of eight groups of four clubs, running from September to December. The top two clubs from each group will form the second series, with four groups of four teams playing from February to March. The top two clubs from each of these groups will go into the quarter-finals in April, with the semi-finals in early May and the final in late May.

ONdigital chief executive Stephen Grabiner says:

"This is a massive coup for ONdigital and our biggest buy yet. From this autumn only ONdigital customers will be able to see all the very best of the UEFA Champions League and the FA Carling Premiership live with all the benefit of ITV Sport's tremendous experience in covering sport. We will have the best coverage and the top commentators to bring the cream of sport to our customers.
"Millions of people will want to watch the cream of British football clubs take on the best in Europe and ONdigital will bring it to them. All that they will require is a simple set top box, which they plug in to their TV set to get all the benefits of digital TV. In the first year we will bring the matches we cover to our customers absolutely free."