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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RTR Nearing Deal to Televise Soccer

Soccer fans unable to watch their Moscow teams on television since the start of the season four months ago may finally get to watch live games as soon as this weekend, RTR said Thursday. Live matches have been off the air due to a heated feud between RTR and the Professional Football League, but the two sides said they are now ready to sign a deal.

"We are technically ready," RTR spokesman Alexander Goldburt said. "We can start Saturday."

RTR said a final decision would be made Friday, but the PFL said Saturday may be too soon to start broadcasting.

Under the deal, RTR will show Lokomotiv and Torpedo Moscow's games, Spartak's away games and other key games. It will also broadcast all important games.

Even as the title race heats up between major teams Spartak and Lomotiv Moscow, fans watching from home have been left with only Euro 2000 games this year due to the torturous contract negotiations between the PFL and RTR.

Negotiations broke down at the start of the season four months ago, when Spartak Moscow split from the other premier league clubs to sign its own contract with Ren TV to show its home games for a reported $1 million. The remaining clubs were said to have been offered $1 million between them.

Even Russian Football Union president Vyacheslav Koloskov stepped into the fray earlier this week, saying he was hopeful that live matches would be back on television soon.

RTR on Thursday blamed the prolonged talks on the soccer authorities.

"They wanted an awful lot of money," said Goldburt, complaining about the bureaucracy of the PFL. "And they started the negotiations late."

The PFL negotiates with RTR on behalf of the clubs, which each own the individual rights to the games. Neither the PFL nor RTR would comment on the cost of the deal.

"Representatives of the television channels talk about the low ratings of Russian soccer, although in fact every year its popularity and spectators grow," PFL president Nikolai Tolstykh told Sport-Express newspaper when negotiations first fell through last March.

Earlier this week the Russian national team signed a sponsorship deal with Tyumen Oil Co., effective until 2002. But the RFU is still looking for a general sponsor.