Ball Watching

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2000, 12:00am

There is a glimmer of hope on the European Champions' League front. Anything would be an improvement after the past week of ECL inaction on CABLE.

As noted last week, the disappearance of ESPN from CABLE's stable made Hong Kong the only football-following nation in this region deprived of the best club competition in the world.

And after the feast of goals and drama that we have only been able to read about from this Tuesday and Wednesday's games, the withdrawal pains have become unbearable.

Well, as a slight sop to the Champions' League deprived, STAR Sports are going to show one taped game each ECL week, starting tomorrow at 6pm. The satellite station are partners with ESPN in Asia but this gesture smacks of STAR being the poor relation, gratefully accepting the scraps from ESPN's table.

STAR's spokesman said the match-up would not be released until today, so keep your eyes on tomorrow's TV listings. But he added that it would probably be one of the two matches shown live on ESPN. That would mean either Sporting Lisbon v Real Madrid or Manchester United v Anderlecht. If you're a betting person you'd take the latter because of United's wild popularity in the SAR.

STAR say the reason for this sudden development is that they realise that 'ECL matches are very popular and they want to cater to their audience's needs'. If they really want to cater to their audience's needs they should have a word in ESPN's ear about bringing the live games back.

In other developments this week, CABLE SPORTS' parent company are entering a new domain of live soccer transmission when they offer the Asian Cup-Winner's Cup second leg between Hong Kong's Happy Valley and Japan's Nagoya Grampus-Eight tomorrow night. Originally scheduled to be shown on CABLE SPORTS 2, this game has been withdrawn from that channel at Valley's request because they were concerned about the effect on stadium attendance.

Now it will be shown exclusively on the internet. The Web site will not just show the match live. It will also fill other parts of the computer screen with an array of statistical and interactive data available for anyone with a broadband connection. This initial match will be with Cantonese commentary only but the people at I-CABLE SPORTS say it is only the first of many. They are already looking at acquiring exclusive rights to other soccer, tennis and golf events for future broadcasts.

TVB PEARL spring a surprise this week as they begin showing the Spanish Liga highlights show late on Wednesday. STAR's live coverage of the Liga made a bright start last week and PEARL's entry is a case of the more the merrier for fans of the Spanish game.

Other PEARL staples, Futbol Mundial and the Asian Football Show have been pushed to later times by the Olympics.