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Time To Think About SPFL TV

Date: 20th April 2020

When you look at the current debate regarding league reconstruction in the SPFL one thing seems to continually come up that hinders the process. 

It has been widely reported that the top flight fixture schedule has to include four Old Firm/Glasgow derby fixtures in accordance with SKY’s latest TV contract. 

When it comes to selling our product to a tv network we only seem to get any sort of decent deal if it involves these numerous crashes between the big two. That then restricts us when it comes to spicing up things such as league reconstruction and even kick off times. It also sees those two Glasgow clubs receiving heavy exposure compared to the rest of Scottish football. 

SKY’s latest deal, worth around £160m, should start in August (all being well) and will last five years. 

In my view this is the right time for the SPFL to look beyond this upcoming TV deal and think about starting their own TV/online streaming service. 

I often believe that Scottish football gets held back because too many clubs are self serving and our governing bodies are short term thinkers. 

Now at this moment I should say that in the past I have been very vocal in my opposition to The SPFL TV idea. 

I work in video/TV production. I felt ten years ago, when SPFL TV first became a hot topic that it would cost too much, that their wasn’t enough experience within the Scottish game to get the quality right and that technology wasn’t good enough to do it successfully. 

Yet I now think the time could be right to rethink the idea. 

Of course The SPFL need to do a study and research the feasibility in doing such an ambitious project. 

I think we should be putting money in from the next TV deal straight into the new model if it becomes realistic. This is the time that SPFL members need to put back in and see a brighter future and not just think short term. 

The price to obtain good enough broadcast equipment is becoming cheaper all the time. 

The technology in streaming is now on par with what would be needed to keep paying customers happy. Broadband speeds have vastly improved in the last decade and the introduction of 5G will mean people will get better service on their mobile devices too. 

What about the experience needed to implement such a monumental task? 

Well first off, I think it was great for our game that we had two broadcasters in SKY and BT Sport covering our game in recent years. As well as giving us different voices and views on the game, it also allowed more production minded people the experience when it comes to covering football live. 

I also think the advent of the new BBC Scotland channel could be huge if SPFL TV became a reality. They are giving smaller Scottish production companies the exposure and experience needed to flourish. These are the type of companies that will be needed to provide unique content every week. 

You also now have digital journalists rolling out of colleges and universities up and down the land. This new breed should be hungry and ambitious to help gain experience and better a new product. 

Plus we have also got fine in-house productions coming from the clubs themselves. The SPFL could definitely utilise those creative geniuses. 

I would also say that we wouldn’t be alone in this sort of project. We could and should learn from those in American sports that already provide their own networks and streaming services. We shouldn’t be scared in utilising other people’s experiences when doing something that’s unknown to us. 

This SPFL channel, if it were ever to become a thing, would need to work for all it’s members and in turn their fans. The supporters/customers need to be at the heart of it. That means not concentrating on the big two or just the Premiership. You can have reports, full games and highlight packages from all the teams in all the leagues. 

You will need to charge the right fee and in my opinion share the wealth out more equally. 

We could look at ending the Saturday 3pm blackout and also have the kick off times that suit the fans and not the broadcasters. 

This will not be a quick fix, actually it might not be viable at all. But I do think The SPFL should be thinking of doing a study and look at it as a possibility. It could be the right time to execute such a plan and be ready in five years to take back our game! 

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