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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 18:19 GMT

Sport: Football

Turkey pulls plug on Irish clash

The TurkishTV company demanded IR£3 for the rights

Turkey vs Republic of Ireland, 17 Nov, 1800 GMT

Fans in the Republic of Ireland have been unable to watch their crucial Euro 2000 clash in Bursa, after a Turkish television station withheld coverage following a row over rights.

Head of RTE Sport, Tim O'Conner: "The fee they are demanding is preposterous"
Talks broke down between Ireland's state-backed RTE television network and the Turkish company, Star, that owns the rights, after they demanded IR£3m for the game to be broadcast in Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the fee demanded by Star was extortionate and announced that he would protest to Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit.

He is due in Turkey on Wednesday for a Nato conference and was understood to have been in negotiations over television rights just before kick-off.

"Even if it is just putting down on behalf of the Irish people a protest of what is really extortion I'm going to do that," he said.

Ahern said the fee was 10 times the normal charge and if the match were played in Ireland he would expect to receive complaints.

"I'm sure they would say that you can't interfere with a commercial firm," he said.

"But that won't stop me making my protest."

RTE said it had made "extensive and exhaustive efforts" to reach a resolution and described the fee as "nonsense".

Television coverage failed to materialise by kick-off, at 1800 GMT, leaving the bulk of Ireland's hundreds of thousands of home fans relying on RTE's radio coverage instead.

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