It’s the most eagerly anticipated western derby for several years and expected to be a sell-out, but Channel Seven and its free-to-air television audience will still be robbed of watching the game live.

While pay-TV broadcaster Foxtel will show Sunday’s clash between the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers live from 2.40pm, free-to-air viewers will have to wait another 30 minutes to see any of the match on Channel Seven.

Both the Seven Network and the AFL confirmed yesterday that contractual arrangements meant there was no recourse for the free-to-air broadcaster to move to show the game live, despite locals being unable to get a ticket to the game.

“It is a Foxtel game so we can’t commence our telecast until 30 minutes after them. This is the current contractual arrangement we are operating under,” Channel Seven Perth general manager Ray Wardrop said.

The same scenario will arise when the Eagles and Dockers, who might both be eyeing off finals spots later in the season, do battle for a second time in round 18 in late July.

The irony of the situation is not likely to be lost on Perth football fans, who from next year will finally be able to watch Friday night football live on Foxtel, while contracted broadcaster Seven shows games on delay.

“Next year’s contract is not linked in any way to the current contract,” Mr Wardrop noted.

Ticket sales agency Ticketmaster said yesterday all general admission tickets had been sold for Sunday’s game, which is a West Coast home fixture.

The Eagles’ re-sale program allows for members who decide not to attend the match to put their tickets back into a sale pool that will be open to the public today.

But that pool is expected to be limited and tickets in it are tipped to sell quickly.

Fremantle (4-2) is in sixth place on the AFL ladder, while West Coast (3-3) has bounced back from its first-ever wooden spoon of last year to sit ninth.

While Perth viewers were stuck with a derby delay, their Melbourne counterparts were this week celebrating the news that the round’s other big match – Geelong versus Collingwood at the MCG – would be shown live on Channel Seven.

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