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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John Pearman

Editor of the only remaining Liverpool fanzine, Red All Over The Land. On sale outside Anfield on match days. Started this Fanzine in 1995