It’s confirmed. ESPN2 will show the opening game of the 2009-2010 season between Chelsea and Hull City at 7:45am ET Saturday.
On late Friday, ESPN concluded the negotiations with Fox Soccer Channel to sub-license the early Saturday morning kickoff and Monday afternoon games for the 2009/2010 season. The package includes 12 Monday afternoon ET games, all 7:45am ET Saturday games, and a select number of 10am ET Saturday games (when the 7:45am ET game is not available that day).
“The Barclays Premier League is one of the crown jewels of professional sports throughout the world,” said Scott Guglielmino, vice president of programming, ESPN. “We’re pleased to work with Fox Sports International to bring some of the league’s marquee matchups to ESPN2 in our continued efforts to serve soccer fans in the United States.”
The agreement marks the return of the Premier League to ESPN in the United States. For two seasons (1996–97 and 1997-98), ESPN2 was the English-language television home for the league’s Monday night matches.
The schedule through September 2009 is as follows (all times eastern):
Sat. 7:40 a.m. Chelsea vs. Hull City
Sat., Aug. 22, 9:55 a.m., Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester United
Mon., Aug. 24, 2:55 p.m. , Liverpool vs. Aston Villa
Sat., Aug. 29, 7:40 a.m., Chelsea vs. Burnley
Sat., Sept. 12, 9:55 a.m., Liverpool vs. Burnley
Sat., Sept. 1, 7:40 a.m, Burnley vs. Sunderland;
Sat., Sept. 26, 7:40 a.m., Portsmouth vs. Everton
Mon., Sept. 28, 2:55 p.m., Manchester City vs. West Ham
The above is the official TV schedule from ESPN, but here’s the unofficial TV schedule for Premier League games on ESPN2, Setanta and Fox Soccer Channel, (subject to change), through November 29, 2009.
This is truly a historic day in the rise of soccer in the United States. EPL Talk broke the news on August 6 that ESPN were adding the Premier League TV rights to its network after Setanta were no longer able to sub-license the early Saturday morning and Monday afternoon games. In an agonizing week for soccer fans in the United States, Premier League followers were waiting on official confirmation of the news. After lots of intense negotiations by ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel (who owned the rights), a deal was finally struck late Friday night.
Unfortunately, Jozy Altidore will not be playing for Hull City in the opening match of the season. “Still in the States trying to sort things out with my work permit,” said Altidore, via his Twitter account. “There is a lil more work that has to be done.”
As of press time, ESPN has yet to confirm whether matches will be shown in HD. More details are expected to be announced next week.