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Anorak | That Friday Feeling

That Friday Feeling

by | 23rd, August 2002

‘IT started with Sunday matches, then we had Monday matches, Saturday morning matches – and today we have a Friday match. How long can it be before there are Premiership games on every day of the week?

Crowd scenes on a Friday night

Sky may be limited under their current contract as to how many live games they can show during the course of a season, but they are in a strong position when it comes to renegotiation.

At the moment, football needs TV and it needs its money more than ever. And unless the BBC or ITV decide to take a massive gamble and bid for the rights when they next come round, that means they need Sky. Clubs have effectively mortgaged themselves against Murdoch’s money and it would be a disaster if there was a massive drop-off in revenue.

When Sky first won the rights to broadcast live Premiership games, the relationship was reversed. The fledgling TV channel needed viewers and it needed them quickly – and it was to football that it turned to persuade people to buy a dish. When the deal was renegotiated, football was hot property – and (following Sky’s success on the back of it) regarded as a goldmine by broadcasters.

But some of the lustre has worn off. The market is close to saturation, TV advertising is not bringing in the same bucks and there is a realisation that Sky probably overpaid last time out. The upshot will undoubtedly be greater power to the broadcaster in future – the ability to show more live games, more pay-per-view games and more rearranging of the fixture list to suit the demands of the schedule.

And that can only be bad news for fans. Friday night is not for football. In the past, only Tranmere regularly played on Fridays and that was to step out of the shadow of the two big Liverpool clubs.

But, if Sky get some decent viewing figures tonight, we can expect more big games to be moved in the coming years. Which means trouble for fans, especially those who have to travel the length of the country to get to the game.

Home fans may have to sacrifice their after-work pint on one of the very few nights when there is something good on TV. But away fans face the prospect of having to take a day off work to follow their team or giving the game a miss altogether.

It is a dangerous road to go down. In the longer term, it is surely better to stand up to the TV companies than to further alienate the people on whom the future of the game depends – the long-suffering fans. ‘



Posted: 23rd, August 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink