Channel 4 has replaced the BBC to broadcast the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 next summer.
The broadcaster will show all England and Scotland football matches under the terms of the deal, which will see live international football played on the channel for the first time.
C4’s coverage will include the two home nations facing off against each other in their opening match on 19 July next year.
England and Scotland will also face Spain and Portugal in Group D at the tournament which is being hosted by Holland.
The move represents a coup for C4 and a blow for the BBC, which secured the rights to show every match of the Women’s World Cup in Canada last year.
The Corporation also showed the 2013 Women’s Euros in Sweden and a BBC spokeswoman confirmed that it was outbid by Channel 4 for the rights to the 2017 Euro tournament by C4.
She added: “We’re disappointed not to have retained the rights to the Women’s Euros despite our unparalleled support for the game, the recent qualification matches and past tournaments. We’re proud of our contribution to the growth of women’s football in the UK, highlighted by the competitiveness for these rights, and we’re pleased that the matches will remain free to air. The BBC’s commitment to women’s football remains incredibly strong with our extensive coverage of the Women’s Super League and FA Cup across TV, radio and online platforms. We wish the tournament well.”
Channel 4 has a minor association with football as the home to Italian Serie A coverage, especially popular in the 1990s. However the broadcaster confirmed that it has never shown an international tournament before.
The Women’s Euros open with the host nation taking on Norway on 16 July.
Of the 16 teams in the tournament, Scotland are currently ranked 11th while England’s Lionesses are ranked third behind the current holders Germany and second placed France.
If both home nations make it through the group stage, the only way they could meet again would be in the final which will be shown live on Channel 4 on 6th August.
England are among the favourites to win the tournament having reached the semi-finals of last year’s FIFA World Cup in Canada where they finished third.
The news was announced at Channel 4’s “Upfronts” event where the broadcaster presents it upcoming programming wares to advertisers.
At the event, Stephen Lyle, C4’s commissioning editor for sport said: “We’re thrilled to have secured the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euros on Channel 4. With Scotland there for the first time and England’s Lionesses at the top of their game, I believe this tournament is going to be one of the sporting highlights of the summer.”
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