Archive for August, 2017

Football Crazy By Graham Mack

English football clubs are missing out on revenue because of a dumb rule THEY agreed to more than fifty years ago.

We got news this week that it’s going to get harder to watch the Premier League on TV this season. A lot of people have been watching games on Kodi through PCs, X-Boxes, Google TV and Amazon Fire Sticks. It’s estimated that as many as a third of football fans watch soccer this way even though it’s illegal.

Now if you’re caught, you could have your online stream cut off. The High Court has issued a “blocking order”. Under this order, UK Internet Service Providers will have to stop people from illegally streaming matches. At the moment fans can only legally watch Premier League games if they pay for it with a Sky Sports and BT Sports subscription.

That sounds fair because Sky and BT have paid for exclusive rights. But what about the games that are not televised in Britain but are televised in other countries and pretty easy to find on the internet?

I’m talking about the games that are played on Saturday afternoons. The traditional kick-off time for soccer in the UK is 3pm on Saturdays but no games are televised at that time. It’s all because in the 60s, Bob Lord, the chairman of Burnley Football Club at the time, believed that allowing the broadcast of football at its most popular time would be detrimental to attendances at live games.

He gathered together the rest of the chairmen from the Football League and persuaded them all to agree to his suggestion that soccer should not be televised between 2.45pm and 5.15pm. So now when a network has bought the rights to a 3pm kick-off, the game is moved to a different time or different day, it gets ‘Skyjacked’.

No legal ruling has ever been put in place over this, but the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League have continued to abide by this stupid rule ever since.

Sky and BT are worried about losing money because of illegal streams but what if you already pay for a BT and Sky subscription and your team is playing on Saturday at 3pm? The only way to watch the games on TV in the UK is illegally. If you do that, BT and Sky don’t lose any money, you’ve already paid them!

The real losers here are the clubs. They miss out on extra revenue because they’re not allowed to stream the 3pm Saturday games on their own TV channels and websites and charge fans around the world for the privilege. The irony is that in the UK, their own stupid rule has created a demand they can’t capitalise on.

Craic on!

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Not a good week for the ticket office. First it seems that up to two thirds of the auto cup payments for Hoffenheim at home failed and fans were asked by the club to process the payments themselves; then the sales announcement for the away game told fans that they could collect or have tickets posted special delivery – except when you went to buy, the only option was to collect. The available for collection date (now called “fulfilment” – what American clap trap is that?) was provided via a link – except the only information was about Watford tickets. And finally, for the Hoffenheim home tickets, as they went on sale, “collect” was the only option. Except if you went to the ticket office to collect on the Friday i.e. 2 days after the initial sale, you were told they were being posted out.  I don’t think it is the ticket office to blame, but whoever runs the website isn’t dancing to the same tune.  Or someone has forgotten the season has started. Oh, I forgot – anyone travelling to Hoffenheim straight from Watford would have had to receive their tickets by last Friday – except those being posted weren’t being sent till the same Friday. And if you bought your tickets on the Thursday the collection day was Saturday – so how could you be at Watford? Why didn’t they just tell us to collect our tickets in Germany? Much easier all round.”

The Blog #1

On Friday night I watched Liverpool Under 23’s play away at Swansea at the Welsh clubs academy.  It was pouring with rain and the pitch looked a bit like it was set on a school playing field.  The Liverpool side was something of an assortment of players who’d been on loan last season but had returned but will probably be back on loan soon – either that or they will find a new club before the Transfer window is slammed shut.  Other had been upgraded from the Under 18’s and can be listed as ‘prospects’ – at least for now.  There was also Danny Ings.  Ings was returning after another long layoff and this was his first bit of action since last November.

Contrast the Ings situation with what else went on Around The Fields of Anfield Road on Friday.  It was the eve of the new season and we all knew about the Barça bids for Coutinho and the players desire to go to Cataluña.  The club had said no deal regardless but then Coutinho who was reported as being unfit for duty because of a bad back announced to the world he wanted a transfer and emailed the club requesting one.  Meanwhile his family [allegedly] said Liverpool don’t let players go amicably and cited Luis Suárez and Steven Gerrard.  It was all well and good them telling us how Coutinho loved the fans and the club but handing in – or emailing – a transfer request of the eve of the season smacked of someone who couldn’t give a toss about the fans or the club.

There can be no doubt as soon as the Neymar business began Coutinho would be earmarked by Barça as one possible replacement.  Players don’t have loyalty in great abundance these days although there may be a few still dotted around.  Neymar wasn’t considering the Barça position when he made it clear he was off and Coutinho isn’t in the slightest way bothered about what happens next at Liverpool if, and more likely when, he goes.  If this had occurred in May or June, our club could have got someone lined up but twenty four hours before the opening game and a crucial early season period coming up hasn’t left the club with many options but to try and stall things.  He’s not only upset the fans, he’s disrupted the club and possibly even the dressing room although his teammates usually know what’s going on anyway, maybe even before the club.

Jürgen has surely got enough on his plate trying to sort out the messed up defensive situations that should have been sorted a long time ago without having to think about who’s left in the market place to replace Coutinho?  As for the player if he does have any feelings for the club and the fans he would at least give us another year but I suppose his bank balance would be better if he went to Spain.  Barcelona’s always going to be a Champions League club but are they moving forward at the moment or slipping a bit further behind Real Madrid?  If they see Coutinho as the player who can get them going again then we know how much they got for Neymar so maybe we should be asking for nearly all their money from that deal for his replacement?  For Liverpool to find a suitable replacement at short notice won’t be cheap either.

Mind you, the club spent a good deal of time on Thursday telling us we’ve now got a shirt sleeve sponsor so goody goody.

Meanwhile after suffering the torment of another defensive nightmare I thought back to Danny Ings on Friday and what a contrast in attitudes.


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Watford 3 Liverpool 3

A banquet at one end, a dog’s dinner at the other.  There will be many descriptions of our opening day show but they will just about all focus on the same issues that dogged us from Brendan Rodger’s time to now.  If Jürgen is happy with his defensive options maybe we should ask if he’s happy with his defensive coaches.  Someone somewhere is getting something wrong.  Even allowing for the fact the third Watford goal shouldn’t have been given, the ball should have been dealt with just like the one for the first goal should and maybe even the second as well.  Somebody commented last week about an air of anxiety around our support whenever the opposition have a corner and it’s true but not just when the opposition have a corner, it’s when they get into our half.

On the other hand Salah and Firmino looked good, Manè did as well.  Going forward we look like we could be a goal scoring machine but how many will we need to ensure we can finish with three points?


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