Sky's golf coverage is driving rugby into the rough as the broadcaster allocates a dedicated channel for the sport in package shake-up

Sky

  • Sky Sports are shaking up their format to allow a cheaper 18 entry price
  • Football, golf, cricket and Formula One will be getting dedicated channels
  • Despite the Lions coverage, rugby is going to be bundled in a variety package
  • Gary Neville deigned only to speak to broadsheet papers at a Sky media event
  • Danny Willett's champions dinner menu was heavily Yorkshire themed


Sky Sports, who will broadcast the Masters this week, are elevating golf to one of the mainstays of the network with its own channel, seemingly at the expense of rugby union.

Sky are revamping their service this summer with cricket, Formula One and golf getting dedicated channels. Football is still seen as the big seller and will have two channels, one for the Premier League and one for the rest.

But rugby union, despite Sky televising the Lions and England's autumn internationals, is going to be bundled with other sports in a variety package.

The new format will allow a cheaper entry price for one package of 18 a month but viewers will pay significantly more if they want to purchase the whole of the Sky Sports output.

The Masters is one of sport's most micro-managed events but even the organisers can't control the weather, with a hard frost on March 16 after one of Atlanta's warmest winters ruining the flower show.

The azaleas and camellias were primed to be at their prettiest this week but flowered early, only to be 'nuked by the frost', as one member put it. Officials have apparently tried to buy every available azalea in Georgia but the wow factor in front of the clubhouse and around Amen Corner is missing.

Yet only in Augusta would you have lawn mowers fitted with a GPS system to ensure the grass is cut in exactly the same pattern throughout the tournament.

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FA chairman Greg Clarke went where none of his predecessors was able to on Monday in persuading the FA council to vote unanimously for a series of reforms, including councillors having nine-year term limits, to make the FA compliant with the new governance terms. Clarke's visit to all the county associations to discuss the changes got him onside with the blazers.

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High and mighty pundit Gary Neville, who earned the nickname Red Nev as the England and Manchester United shop steward, deigned to speak only to the supposedly upmarket broadsheet newspapers at a Sky Sports media event on Monday. Red-top Nev no longer, it seems.

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Augusta raise media bar

The All England Club and Augusta National have a very close relationship, with both intensely private organisations learning from each other like each having one of their officials seated in somewhat intimidating fashion alongside players at every press conference.

However Wimbledon, with their cramped press rooms, are going to have to raise their game to match the new 45million media centre in Augusta, which resembles the interior of an antebellum mansion from Gone with the Wind.

Talking of intimidating, a chip in every press accreditation card means the green-jacketed moderators at media conferences know exactly who is asking the questions.

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Last year's Masters winner Danny Willett has lived up to his promise of selecting an archetypal Yorkshire menu for the Champions Dinner in Augusta on Tuesday night.

To start, there is cottage pie with Henderson's Relish a Sheffield delicacy akin to Worcestershire sauce. The centrepiece, of course, is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, with apple crumble for dessert.

Willett's wife Nicole, who gave birth to son Zachariah just before last year's Masters, has put together a goodie bag of Yorkshire produce including tea bags, biscuits and Henderson's Relish for all the past champions.

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The BBC kept footage of David Moyes's 'get a slap' comment to reporter Vicki Sparks under wraps because it was regarded as a private matter.
The chat took place in front of a general camera, which would mean other Premier League rights holders had access to the material.