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Sky Sports signs new SPL TV deal

Sky Sports has reached agreement with the Scottish Premier League to continue their coverage of Scottish football for at least another five years.

As part of the deal, 30 live matches will be shown per season, including five live Rangers fixtures from the Scottish Football League.

Coverage of the SPL begins with Celtic v Aberdeen this Saturday, with a kick-off time of 12.45pm.

Rangers' first game in the Irn-Bru Third Division, away to Peterhead on August 11 at 12.45pm, will also be broadcast live.

The new deal is subject to ratification by the SPL clubs on Friday. No figure has been revealed yet for what the contract is worth.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said: "We've supported Scottish football since we started, over 20 years ago, and have always wanted to continue that commitment.

"Our viewers will see the SPL for five more years and our schedule includes the opening league match for Celtic.

"We will also follow Rangers as they plot their way back to Scottish football's top flight.

"Clubs now have certainty over their income and exposure across the UK and Ireland and we look forward to the new season."

Meanwhile, Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has called  an end to the backbiting that has dogged the game this year and for focus to return to reconstruction.

Rangers' demise and the subsequent placing of Charles Green's newco into the Irn-Bru Third Division this summer provoked unprecedented animosity and acrimony.

Regan found himself at the centre of much criticism, with Rangers boss Ally McCoist saying last week, after the relaunched Govan club had been granted conditional SFA membership: "In recent days, I have been in a number of meetings with Stewart Regan, Rod Petrie and other senior SFA figures - and despair at the lack of leadership shown."

Green did little to ease the ill-feeling swirling around the game when, before Sunday's Ramsdens Cup extra-time win over Brechin at Glebe Park, the Rangers chief executive suggested that the reason the Ibrox club were denied entry into the Scottish Premier League was due to bigotry and jealousy.

The SFA's compliance officer, Vincent Lunny, has written to Green asking him to explain his comments.

Today, in a statement, Regan, who was handed a vote of confidence by the SFA board, said: "Comments in recent weeks have been undignified and irresponsible but it is important we now look ahead and focus our attention on football.

"It has been a challenging summer and one that we all have learned from. But we are where we are and the Scottish FA as a governing body now has the responsibility to unite everyone in Scottish football - league bodies, clubs, supporters - and help take the game forward.

"We need to restore faith and trust among the three bodies and we are committed to reconstruction and a solution in the best interests of all 42 senior clubs and those who are inspired to join senior football.

"Of course it has been challenging for the Scottish FA and myself but it is important to emphasise the facts behind the popular misconception. The Five-way agreement was exactly that. The Scottish FA played the role of peacekeeper between the SPL and the SFL along with Rangers oldco and Rangers newco.

"Those discussions culminated in a presentation to all member clubs and the outcome was Rangers being accommodated in Division Three.

"Throughout the process the Scottish FA's only priority was to look after the best interests of the whole of the game and to ensure 42 clubs did not suffer in the circumstances that affected one club."

The statement continued: "We must now look forward and we all have an obligation to promote the national game. The season is under way and it is time to focus our efforts on the success of our clubs in Europe, our clubs domestically and that we all get behind Craig Levein and his squad ahead of the World Cup 2014 qualifiers.

"Later this month the Scottish FA will demonstrate its commitment to elite talent development with the first intake of young players into our seven regional performance schools and I also chair the working group tasked with a feasibility study into a national performance centre.

"We are committed to improving Scottish football at all levels and require the support and commitment of everyone else with the future success of Scottish football at heart to get behind us."

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