Football supporters’ clubs have drawn up tactics in the hope of delivering a ratings blow to Carlton and Granada in the wake of the collapse of the £178m ITV Digital deal with the Nationwide League.
The National Federation of Football Supporters’ Clubs and the Football Supporters’ Association are backing a Saveourclubs campaign to boycott the World Cup Final on ITV.
The move follows a "Can the Commercials" campaign by the Football Fans’ Union to encourage supporters to switch off the adverts during ITV games, and a failed bid to encourage supporters to boycott popular programmes such as Coronation Street.
"This isn’t the first time such groups have tried such campaigns and none of them have had a discernible impact on our audiences," a spokeswoman for ITV said.
But the Saveourclubs campaign is still pushing ahead by asking fans "to watch the World Cup Final on the BBC and give ITV [and their advertisers] a ratings disaster".
"It’s not too much to watch ‘the boy Lineker’ as opposed to the housewives’ favourite is it? "And listening to Hansen is not a big price to pay for stuffing it up the corporate bully boys," the campaign’s e-mail said.
ITV and the BBC will both broadcast live coverage if England or Ireland plays in the quarter-finals or semi-finals.
The 29 June third place play-off and the following day’s final will also be shown by both the BBC and ITV.
Alan Bloore, deputy chairman of the NFFSC, said Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United supporters’ clubs were also encouraging fans to join the boycott.
"There has been a great deal of support from supporters around the country," said Bloore.
"It will be difficult to calculate how much impact it will have, but what we’re saying is that if there is an alternative to watching a game on ITV, then choose the alternative.
"It’s a way of telling ITV that if they upset the supporters then the supporters will upset the station and it could cost them more than £178m."
By Julie Tomlin