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Should We End Saturday 3pm TV Blackout?

Date: 26th October 2022

We’ve often been told that Saturday 3pm kick-offs are sacred affairs and we can only view those fixtures in person. 

Clubs and authorities believed that that was the best way to keep attendances up, no one would want to go to a game of football if it’s on the TV. 

It has been recently reported that The EFL will consider lifting the blackout when negotiating their next TV deal. The UK is pretty unique when it comes to enforcing a blackout for a period of time each and every week. 

Now The SPFL has recently signed an extension to their current TV deal with Sky and that could mean removing the blackout might not be possible until after that contract ends. This again would seem like the Scottish footballing authorities and its members may have rushed in to a new deal without thinking everything through. 

I think it’s a myth that crowd numbers will instantly and significantly go down if we remove the blackout. Look at Newlandsfield Park on Monday night, Pollok hosted Annan Athletic in the Scottish Cup, and the ground was sold out. It was a true spectacle and those that were there would’ve enjoyed it more by just being there. 

Clubs scared of disappearing attendances are again thinking in the short term. It would be up to them to make the match day experience as exciting and as enjoyable as possible. If you aren’t willing to listen to new ideas then things will become stale and that’s what will drive fans away quicker than anything else. 

It was completely shortsighted to agree an extension with Sky without adding a proviso that clubs could generate extra income with streaming their own games that Sky Sports aren’t covering. The technology is there and there’s an appetite for it, we saw that during the Covid pandemic. Yes Sky have agreed to clubs doing some streaming but it’s not enough to really make it significant to the fans or to the club’s coffers. 

I’m not saying we should 100% get rid of the 3pm blackout. What I am crying out for is that the SPFL and it’s members take fans seriously and ask them what they want!

We are no longer in the 1960s, times have changed. Going to the football and having it streamed for those that can’t make it can co-exist. 

Football clubs want to see attendances grow, yet they never really consider how they can do that with the input of the spectators who are the ones that keep those same football clubs alive. 

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