Keen Irish fan brings football to Australian TV

As a lifelong supporter of Ireland's football team, David Feeney found it frustrating that so few of his team's international matches were broadcast on Australian TV after he made the move Down Under.

So Feeney, a Sydney-based IT director, decided to buy the television rights for Ireland's next World Cup qualifier on Sept. 6 against Sweden. And, just for good measure, he has also organized to show England's game against Ukraine on Sept. 10.

Those matches will be televised on Feeney's fledgling "Channel 33" in the early hours of the morning on Australia's east coast at venues including sports bars and a casino in Sydney and the Celtic Club in Melbourne.

He's also negotiating to televise the matches in New Zealand and some Pacific Islands.

The final straw came in March when Feeney was listening on Internet radio to Ireland's match in Dublin against Austria. The visitors scored a last-minute goal to earn a 2-2 draw, and Feeney was cranky he wasn't able to watch such an entertaining match.

"I thought then, that was it, there is no way I shouldn't be watching this," Feeney told The Associated Press on Thursday. "So I'm going to try to buy the television rights."

Feeney extended his mortgage to finance the plan, then approached a German television rights company which holds the overseas rights, and worked in partnership with an Australian satellite broadcaster to beam the matches into local venues.

He won't say how much he paid for the rights, only that his first offer was rejected.

Before the idea left the kitchen of his new home, though, he had to check with his wife, Lesley, who is also from Dublin.

"Both our names are on the mortgage, and when I told her about the idea, I don't think she was too crazy about it," Feeney said. "But if it works out, I'm hoping we can do more in the future."

Feeney comes by the telecasting decision honestly, saying he likes pairing his two passions of technology/television and sports "sort of like a Jerry Maguire," he said of the sports marketing character in the movie starring Tom Cruise.

Early on Saturday, Sept. 7 in Australia, Feeney will have the option of hitting a casino sports bar in Sydney for a few early Guinness while he watches Ireland and his pet project get off the ground.

The reality, though, is that the rookie television rights pioneer will probably be at a central broadcasting center in Sydney that will be taking the incoming feed from Europe.

"I want to make sure everything goes OK, the signal goes out to the right places," Feeney said. "And for sure, I'll probably be nervous."

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Channel 33: http://www.channel33.com.au

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Follow Dennis Passa on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DennisPassa

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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