Millions ready to Toon in for tie
Millions ready to Toon in for tie Apr 22 2004
By Alan Oliver, The Evening Chronicle
Newcastle United will have a multi-million audience for tonight's UEFA Cup semi-final with Marseille when the game is beamed out live on ITV.
This is because United's game with PSV Eindhoven on ITV2 last week had an audience of 1.5m, one of the biggest ever viewing figures for the satellite channel.
It follows on from United's fourth-round tie against Real Mallorca when another audience of 1.5m provided BBC3 with their top viewing figures.
Certainly, it is unusual for ITV to show two live midweek games but they will beam out United two days after showing Chelsea's defeat by Monaco in the Champions League.
Independent Television's Gary Newbon said: "We had fabulous ratings for ITV2 when we showed Newcastle's quarter-final with PSV Eindhoven last week.
"As a result, we changed our original plan to again show tonight's game from St James' Park on ITV2 and instead put it out on our main channel. Everybody connected with ITV had first-class treatment for the PSV game and certainly some of the people from Monaco could learn a lot from Newcastle United in a lot of fields."
Meanwhile, United's press office has had probably their biggest request for tickets in tonight's 52,000-plus sell-out and journalists from all over the world will be in attendance.
Consequently, the press box is full to its 134-seat capacity for the first time since the stadium was retructured, with several of the media being asked to sit in an overflow area.