The Waterloo tournament, the biggest crown green competition in the country, is back on terrestrial television next month after an absence of over a quarter of a century.
The Co-operative Funeralcare has agreed a sponsorship deal to bring to back to the screens at long last - it was last televised by the BBC 26 years ago.
As a result of the sponsorship, this year’s handicap finals will receive live uninterrupted TV coverage on free to view channel ITV4 from 10am to 5pm on September 15-16.
ITV4 will also air a series of highlight programmes summarising the day’s events.
The Waterloo has been taking place since 1907 and is recognised as the prize crown green bowlers most want to win.
The news will be warmly received by the bowls fraternity.
The sport is watched and played by over 150,000 officially registered members of The British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA) across over 2,540 affiliated clubs.
Speaking of the £50,000 sponsorship deal, John Taylor, community engagement manager for the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “We’ve long supported the bowls as a sporting tradition at the heart of thousands of communities across the UK. “We hope that this new sponsorship will come as a further boost not just to bowling but also to local communities by encouraging thousands of viewers to also get directly involved with their local bowls club.”
Mel Evans, BCGBA commercial officer, feels this is exactly what the sport needs.
A bowler himself, Evans said: “This is the best news crown green bowling has received for many years.
“We have been in discussion with ITV4 and the Co-operative Funeralcare for some time and are delighted to the sponsorship is now in place.”
Evans added “It’s been 26 years since the sport has been on terrestrial television and hopefully this will attract newcomers to crown green bowls.”
Mark Audin, Waterloo bowls manager, said: “Crown Green Bowls needed television coverage to bring it back into the public eye so this is fantastic news.
“We now need the Crown Green fraternity to come along and support the Waterloo – let’s get a big crowd in the stadium to show the public what a unique atmosphere Crown Green Bowls can generate.”
The last “32 rounds” of the competition start on September 14 and will be streamed live by Globegig Media TV on www.globegig.com/live-event-room with the site also featuring the finals draw live on August 28 at 7.30pm.
Evans is expected to be part of the commentary team, with Rishi Persad, best known for his work on Channel 4 Racing, being tipped as the anchor-man.