A long angering annoyance of mine is the FA’s reluctance to lift a 70+ year old 2 ½ hour football ban in this country but them being more than happy to sell it’s soul at any other time of the day for 6 days and 21 ½ hours a week as long as the price is right…
Our predecessors put this ruling in place many moons ago to ensure those law-abiding retired soldiers and good citizens with a day off at the weekend during the 1950’s and 60’s would choose getting up off their sofa’s to get down to their local teams and watch them play instead of watching the big game on the box. This was in an era when nothing else mattered. No other TV channel options but BBC, No holidays, No super-fast trains or planes, weekends away, no mobiles, laptops, games consoles, Netflix or Amazon… Just one channel on the TV.. perhaps a trip to the park, or the pub, or the match?
Ever since SKY joined forces with the Premier League there has been an obvious avoidance by TV companies to host matches on a Saturday afternoon and now with more channels, more facilities, more life options, you can watch any game anywhere at any time legally… Except in England at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.
So rather than protecting the fan, protecting the clubs and protecting the English game so that the 3pm Kick Off stays relevant in this country… We now have an avoidance… How to get round the embargo… How to work with the ruling but still come out of it profitable whilst not really caring about the supporter who would otherwise like to attend the game at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.
I like to watch football… But when it’s on Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night, Sunday lunch, Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night… But not on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm… I find it all slightly overwhelming… Who’s playing when? Where? I no longer care? I’m the biggest football fan in the world but I truly can’t keep up.
I totally get why the FA & Premier League milks the football market and they do everything they can to bleed every penny they can to get the game screened in as many countries as they can because that is where the money is… But a 2 ½ hour blackout contradicts everything they are trying to do when all it does pushes the switching of games to any other time bar Saturday afternoons minus Burnley v Everton or Huddersfield v Bournemouth so that they can earn a bit more bloody revenue. Are you telling me more people would watch on a Monday night than at 3pm on a Saturday??
The problems we are now seeing.. Initially lead by the FA, the Premier League and Sky… Is now that La Liga wants to do the same, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, they all want to do it.. Show games whenever, wherever, milk the market…. Watch us not them… I had hoped we English would be better than that!
The NFL have got it right… Friday Night College Football where crowds are six figures follows Thursday night NFL… Saturday is rest day so do what you want, Sunday every game is screened every ground is full, then finish the week off on Monday night.. A few days off then the fun starts again… The NFL is the best marketed sporting model in the world and they only play it six months a year… Sometimes less is more?
Now I know football needs to be played at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon in this country. Why do I know that? Because that’s when I first watched a game, that’s when I first played the game, that’s when we all want to go and watch a game. It’s just practical.
As the decision makers the FA and Premier League do have the options to choose to sort this good and proper themselves, option one would be to just bring back an end to this ridiculous 2 ½ hour blackout. Have a free for all, TV soccer everywhere, will it really effect gate receipts? I don’t know? Try it… It’s not like the big wigs care as long as they still make their money (which no doubt they will because TV companies will lap it up even more)…
Another option would be to get rid of the blackout but limit the games that are shown on TV…(less revenue you say?… No chance) They could have 3pm Kick Offs on TV but just show one game on a Saturday. Don’t show three or four games a day.. That way if a local team is playing and the TV game at 3pm is not for me… I might nip down and grab a burger and bovril instead of spending the day on the sofa like I do because Its just easier and regardless I never know when my team is playing.
Option 3 would be stagger kick off times. Why not ALL Premier League games played at 12pm, 5pm & 8pm on a Saturday? That way we (the real fan) might just head out to a local 3pm game ourselves whilst leaving our friends in China and USA to pay full fee for EPL action?
Option 4 would see me change the days Premier League football is played completely.. After all isn’t it all about the Premier League? The real reason why people don’t go to watch lower league teams play is because the EPL is so great? Isn’t it? Play it Friday nights? All day Sunday? Monday afternoon for me… But in doing so protect the football league and give them Saturday’s to themselves.. They’ll soon see crowds go up.
I really think the organisers of football in this country need to do more to protect the fans, the clubs, the players, and instead of selling rights to whoever, wherever and at the expense of those playing and watching the game in this country, they need to clamp down on the amount of TV companies involved in screening matches, clamp down on all these apps and streaming channels that show the goals of games… For god sake the official Premier League website doesn’t even have access in this country to show its own games and goals!!!!
We need a clear strategy for the digital age, the armchair supporter has probably never actually been to the ground of his favourite football team. Whilst the old fashioned match going fan has probably never liked attending matches at any other time than 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. We need to appease both or we’ll switching off our Friday night viewing of Croatia v England in front of zero attendance even sooner than we already did! Why not try screening one 3pm game with a full house? Will it really effect all those others when there’s already so much football on the box at every other time of day regardless?
It’s time we got with the times… Make a ruling that protects the 3pm matches… Make a ruling that protects our clubs.. Make a ruling that protects our fans… Because a 2 ½ blackout designed just after the war when we only had one TV channel to choose from is not beneficial to the modern supporter who can stream it on his smartphone in three clicks and it is of no benefit to the modern game especially when every other day of the week we see goals and games and incidents at the finger of the button.
Take Sky’s unthoughtful but Innovative approach to screen Football League games between all hours of the day every day of the week apart from 2:45-5:15 on a Saturday.. Attendances are now being regularly effected in the Championship with matches available at all times on a red button free for all to rewind and fast forward as much as you like as often as you want from sofa, arm chair or bed as long as you don’t do it at that bastard bloody time of day on a Saturday afternoon!!!
Is that really the way the game wants to be heading??
It has to end now, it has to be better and it has to be to the benefit of those who are being starved of it through the very purpose of it’s horrible and cynical global exploitation.