European finals plane sailing for TV pundits as fans struggle to book flights


The travel chaos facing thousands of fans going to Baku and Madrid for the two European finals is even affecting BT Sport.

It has led to the broadcaster using private planes to get the likes of presenters Jake Humphrey and Gary Lineker and their star guests to the Europa League Final in Azerbaijan on May 29 and then the Champions League showpiece in the Spanish capital three nights later.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, is under fire from supporters who are unable to get tickets or flights to watch their teams after English clubs filled all four places in the finals, with Arsenal and Chelsea off to Baku and Liverpool and Tottenham squaring off in Madrid.

A BT Sport insider said: “This is something that we’ve had to do. We are using our outside-broadcast providers’ plane.

A private jet will whisk BT host Lineker to Baku and then Madrid

“Where we have staff/talent working across both finals, it has proved logistically better and also a cost-effective way of making sure we can get people to Baku and Madrid.

“The majority of staff will be getting normal flights.”

BT trumpeted their audience figures for the Champions League semi-finals, with Liverpool’s comeback against Barcelona after losing the first leg 3-0 pulling in a peak of 2.9m and Tottenham’s last-gasp win at Ajax the next night getting a peak of 2.5m.

FREE-AGAIN CUP NOT FINAL YET

This column revealed in March that ITV were interested in taking over from BT Sport in sharing the FA Cup rights with the BBC, potentially seeing the competition return exclusively on terrestrial UK television.

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Fingers are crossed that the FA Cup will soon be solely available on free-to-air TV again

Although ITV are still favourites, the reality is that a deal has yet to be signed.

The problem for the Football Association is that there has not been a huge bidding war.

COTTAGE ‘BYES

Scott Parker is a popular choice as Fulham ’s new manager, but the odds are already stacked against him in trying to rebuild their squad to get promoted back into the Premier League.

The Cottagers look certain to lose Ryan Sessegnon, who is set to join Tottenham, and Aleksandar Mitrovic is also attracting a lot of interest. Crystal Palace are keen to get him, but might have to offload first.

However, Parker has been told he cannot spend more than £10million on any player and also that they will not buy any players from League One.

That leaves a very small pool of players to choose from.

Parker faces parting with Sessegnon — and strict restrictions on finding a replacement

A BOOKING FOR SAVAGE!

Different people appear to be trying out alongside Robbie Savage on his BBC 5 Live 6-0-6 show, which is likely to move to Sundays next season with Alistair Bruce-Ball and Chris Sutton potentially doing the Saturday version.

They will do well to find someone better than Emma Sanders, who is due to be alongside Savage after the FA Cup on Saturday.

Sanders is an excellent broadcaster and was impressive as a stadium announcer at the World Cup.

* CRAIG MITCH, who was a star at the World Cup with his daily behind-the-scenes show from the England camp, is co-hosting talkSPORT’s FA Cup party show on Saturday with the excellent Laura Woods. It could be a step towards a regular slot.

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* FORMER Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore caused raised eyebrows at the LMA dinner when he said he would take up a new job in September. That is in contrast to him remaining as a consultant for the next three years as part of his controversial £5m “golden handshake” funded by the clubs.

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