BBC NI defends Irish Premier League coverage

Danske Bank Irish Premier league match between Crusaders and Linfield at Seaview Belfast. 
Photograph: Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Irish Premier league match between Crusaders and Linfield at Seaview Belfast. Photograph: Stephen Hamilton

The BBC in Northern Ireland has defended its coverage of Irish League football after a petition calling for greater exposure was launched by an irate fan.

By Thursday night almost 1,000 supporters of local football had signed up, with one signatory branding the existing match highlights only package a “disgrace”.

One fan from Ballymena signed the petition at Change.org, adding the comment: “I have followed local football all my life and the coverage given by the BBC is abysmal. Why can they not support local football with one live match a week or at least a weekly highlights programme.”

Another from Larne said: “There are more people involved in football across the province than in any other sport yet the coverage on TV is abysmal in comparison. Fair play for all sports.”

One supporter who described himself as a “Linfield fan and a BBC TV licence payer,” added: “Time to catch up with RTE etc, give local fans what they want for a change”.

A BBC NI spokeswoman said a new four-year deal with the IFA will bring fans extensive coverage of the Irish Premiership.

“This has been facilitated by significant investment in technology at Irish League grounds across Northern Ireland. As well as the highlights packages on Final Score and the Irish League Show on BBC iPlayer, we provide live radio commentary of weekend and midweek fixtures and have a wide range of content on BBC Sport NI services online, on BBC iPlayer Radio and the BBC Sport NI app.”

The spokeswoman added: “We’re always working to bring local fans the latest, high quality football coverage while also providing our audiences with comprehensive coverage of other sports.”