Sky claims Ryder Cup for rest of decade



Concerns were raised yesterday that golf fans might miss out on the chance to watch leading tournaments after BSkyB revealed it had secured the rights to some of the sport's major events.

BSkyB has obtained the rights to live coverage of the Ryder Cup in 2006 and 2008; the US Open to 2009; the PGA Championship to 2007; the European Tour with a minimum of 34 live events each season to the end of 2008 and all four World Golf Championship events through to the end of 2008. As a result of the deal there will be less golf on the BBC, which has been attempting to secure a foothold within the sport and was hoping to win the rights to tournaments like the Ryder Cup.

The Labour MP Derek Wyatt, who is a keen golfer and has introduced a number of bills aimed at improving the running of the sport, claimed the deal highlighted the need for the BBC to establish its own sports channel. He said: "There are millions of fans in Britain but the BBC just does not have the space or the capacity to show golf. People like watching sport, it is often the driver to higher viewing figures and it is time that the BBC had its own sports channel.

"I don't understand why the BBC has not set up its own sports channel because it is missing out on securing live sports rights and this is affecting ordinary sports fans. BSkyB has done an excellent job with golf and other sports but it would be nice to ensure that as many people as possible get to see the sport's major events."

Vic Wakeling, the managing director of Sky Sports, said: "The huge growth in the popularity of the Ryder Cup over the last seven years of Sky's coverage has been one of sport's big success stories. Over the same period the development of Sky's interactive eight-screen coverage has broken new ground for television. We are delighted this will continue.

"At the same time we plan to use our year-round coverage of the European Tour to spotlight the Ryder Cup team contenders and to spot the Ryder Cup stars of the future."

Golf is the second-most televised sport on Sky with programmes every week and over 3,000 hours scheduled this year.