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Football League clubs to offer Wi-Fi

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Wi-Fi is coming to the terraces, it emerged today, when the UK's Football League (FL) announced it has signed wireless service provider The Cloud to install WLANs at every one of its soccer stadia over the next three years.

Not that fans will get access, at least not at first. The scheme focuses on providing wireless connectivity to club staff and the media, but FL New Media chief Chris Eagle did say the organisation hopes to "gradually" extend coverage to stadium bars, conference facilities and so on.

Deployment has already begun with Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Port Vale and Blackpool.

The Cloud has its own pay-as-you-go scheme, but the company said its "roaming partnerships" would allow "users to access their networks readily at club stadia, irrespective of their chosen service provider". Clubs too can subsidise users' access, via electronic vouchers, though that service is primarily aimed at the media.

The FL covers teams who would formerly have been in League Divisions Two, Three and Four, before Division One became the Premier League and Division Two became the Division One, in 1991, in a bid to capitalise on increasing sponsorship opportunities for the sport - not to mention "hunt for more television money", as the FL itself puts it.

The Cloud is better known for rolling out Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the nation's pub chains. It is now has access points in just under 5000 sites in the UK, it said, up from around 4300 in July this year. ®

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