Football fans from all over the world will watch Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United live on television, but not if they reside in the UK.
The “3 pm blackout,” a long-standing rule put in place to safeguard match attendance and revenue in the era of live television, is the cause of this. Is the blackout still necessary in the age of streaming, where live attendance poses a COVID danger, though?
Bob Lord, the chairman of Burnley Football Club, was successful in convincing other Football League officials to oppose the Saturday afternoon transmission of games in the early 1960s.
The blackout on Saturday prohibited all live broadcasts of football games in the UK between 2.45 and 5.15 p.m.
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Lord believed that televised football would significantly affect match attendance. Other athletes in other sports struggled with the same dread, so he wasn’t alone in his thoughts. Lord saw it as a straightforward case of supply and demand. He considered live game attendance and televised matches to be replacement goods.
He wasn’t mistaken. Turnstile revenue made up the majority of the money football clubs made at the time. There was little to no sponsorship, no revenue from merchandise, and no revenue from broadcasting. The anticipation of the North London Derby or the Saturday afternoon matchup between Liverpool and Manchester United Lord was persuaded by the live broadcast to a populace with almost no other access to sports content that the football business model would not endure in the face of this level of competition.
In 2021, the state of football in England will be drastically changed. Since the game’s globalization in the late 1990s, numerous English small towns and communities have become renowned gaming hubs. The Premier League has grown to be one of England’s biggest exports, with fans traveling to England every weekend to watch their favorite side. Players and coaches are now supplied from practically every nation on earth.
In addition, the game’s economics have changed. Top-tier clubs like Burnley no longer primarily rely on fans attending games, even though games during the epidemic years served as a reminder of how crucial fans are to the energy and spectacle of football. Instead, television, prize money, sponsorship, and merchandise are the main sources of income. In 2018–19, the 20 Premier League clubs’ combined revenues reached £5 billion.
Changing the game
Revenues have decreased over the previous two seasons as a result of COVID. The development of how income is earned, however, has protected many elite clubs. Less than 20% of the revenue for the top clubs comes from matchday activities.
For Premier League clubs today, the 3 pm blackout is not particularly significant because they do not rely on matchday activities to generate the majority of their revenue. In any case, the games scheduled at this time are often between Premier League sides who are not participating in European club championships, and never involve two of the more well-known “big six” clubs. Therefore, it is unlikely that lifting the blackout and airing one of these games would have a significant negative impact on Premier League attendance.
However, English soccer is much more than just the Premier League. The oldest network of interconnected leagues in any sport on the planet has a simply amazing depth. English football can maintain professionalism at least six tiers down while other football powerhouses like Spain, Germany, and Italy only have two or three professional leagues. This is made possible by the fervor and partisanship of teams’ fans and communities.
The lesser divisions rely far more heavily on gate sales than the elite clubs do. It may be argued that teams at the bottom of the English football pyramid still profit from the blackout at 3 o’clock.
But does the blackout still make sense in today’s environment with almost nonstop sports broadcasting? I disagree.
Every Saturday at 12.30 and 5.30, there are broadcasts of Premier League games. The noon games continue until about 2.30 p.m. How many supporters of lower league teams would choose to skip a 3 pm game because Ronaldo, Salah, or Kane are broadcasting it live on television? Quite a few, I believe. The Championship, the second tier of English football, has the fifth-best attendance in all of Europe even though these players are frequently featured on television every Saturday.
If they ever were the substitute commodities Bob Lord feared in the 1960s, watching on television and going in person are no longer. At 3 o’clock on a Saturday, there are a lot of options available to people, both sporting and otherwise, but League One attendances typically number around 8,000.
The third and fourth tiers of English football draw more spectators on average than the first divisions in nations like Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Finland since these numbers are higher than several top-tier UEFA competitions. Not to mention the option of watching kickoffs at 3 p.m. anyhow via other channels or (illegal) streaming providers.
However, the Football League continues to abide by a rule that was established before satellite television or the internet as we know it.
Ironically, overseas fans of the Premier League have access to more televised programming than domestic fans because it is permitted to watch Saturday 3 pm matches outside of the UK.
Those who live in and around Manchester without tickets to Old Trafford will have to wait until around 5 pm to view streaming content or later that night for Match of the Day, a program that is almost as old as the blackout itself. While the rest of the world watches Ronaldo reappear in a Manchester United jersey.
Ronaldo Is Relocating! This monumental, once-in-a-lifetime occurrence should be broadcast to the entire footballing community. And from the luxury of our couches, we should be able to watch it live on our television.
We can all say to our descendants, “I was there virtually,” in the future.
And what does it matter if no one shows up to the stadium to see it live? By just adding some anthemic rock music and pre-recorded crowd noises, Covid has demonstrated that it is now possible to create a genuinely rocking environment without any spectators present. in addition to a lot of fireworks and tape. The stadium doesn’t need to be full. even half-empty FACT: You don’t need a “genuine” crowd to enjoy these large-scale extravaganzas. Not