BT Sport set to air The Ashes this winter after seeing off Sky Sports
BT Sport are reportedly set to win the rights to broadcast the upcoming Ashes series down under.
BT currently have a deal in place with Cricket Australia to broadcast their games in the United Kingdom.
That deal includes all of Australia 's home games and their marquee T20 franchise competition, the Big Bash.
However, the rights are now up for grabs, with BT's £80m deal due to expire later this year.
The existing agreement does not include the 2021-22 Ashes series, which is currently scheduled to start on December 8.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, BT are close to agreeing an extension with Cricket Australia, which would see them retain the rights for the Ashes ahead of rival broadcasters Sky Sports.
It is noted that nothing has been formally signed yet, but the ECB are said to have been 'told to expect' BT Sport to broadcast the Ashes.
Sky are reportedly 'sanguine' about the prospect of missing out on the series, given the time difference between the UK and Australia means the Ashes down under does not return the same viewing figures as a home series does.
BT, meanwhile, recently agreed deals with the New Zealand and West Indies cricket boards which will see them broadcast their home internationals.
The deal with the West Indies also includes England 's upcoming Test series in the Caribbean, which will be played in March 2022.
There are concerns over whether the Ashes will even go ahead this winter, with the ongoing coronavirus restrictions in Australia meaning England would need to be granted an exception by the Australian government in order to see their families.
In the lead-up to the Ashes, England will be playing in the T20 World Cup, with the tournament taking place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
England are due to leave the country for the World Cup in mid-September and, once the tournament is over, they will then fly over to Australia to begin their preparation for the Ashes.
That series is currently scheduled to conclude in January and England's multi-format players like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes are facing up to four months away from their families.
Many of those players have young children and the current coronavirus restrictions in Australia would prevent England from seeing their families at all during the Ashes.
Typically, the player's families fly out to Australia so they can spend Christmas together ahead of the Boxing Day Test.
However, Australia's restrictions currently prevent foreign citizens from entering the country without exceptional circumstances and there is a strict cap on weekly arrivals.
England's players have met with ECB to discuss their concerns over the tour, with some even considering pulling out if their families are unable to travel to Australia.
Cricket Australia are reportedly lobbying the Australian government in a bid to secure special exemptions for England which would allow their families to visit them.
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