Is this the beginning of the the end for football’s 3pm TV blackout? EFL clubs will be asked whether they want to scrap the rules designed to protect ticket sales in favour of finding ‘new revenue streams’ online
- The EFL is going to speak to clubs about the 3pm Saturday blackout rule in June
- They are going to discuss whether clubs want to scrap or ease the current rule
- The 3pm blackout rule has been in place in the United Kingdom since the 1960s
- However, a change in the rules could see game shown over the iFollow service
The EFL will ask clubs whether they want to scrap the 3pm Saturday blackout rule during their annual meeting in June.
The blackout rule, which has been in place in the UK since the 1960s, was brought in to ensure the attendances of lower league games was not negatively affected by fans staying at home to watch high-profile matches on television.
However, clubs will discuss the future of the 3pm blackout rule and the use of the iFollow service instead during their meeting in the summer.
The EFL will ask clubs whether they want to scrap the 3pm Saturday blackout rule in June
Broadcasters including Sky Sports and BT Sport aired 3pm kick-offs during the Covid pandemic because fans were banned from attending matches.
However, broadcasters are usually banned from televising any Premier League, Football League or FA Cup matches played between 2:45pm and 5:15pm.
The rule came into place in the 1960s when Burnley chairman Bob Lord convinced the board that showing matches on Saturday afternoon would negatively impact attendance figures at lower league games.
However, the EFL is considering a rule change and will discuss ways in which they can ease the 3pm blackout rule at their AGM in June, according to iNews.
The 3pm blackout rule has been in place in the United Kingdom since the 1960s
However, clubs will sit down in June to discussing easing the rule and using the iFollow service
There are two options that will be explored during the meeting. The first will allow clubs to negotiate with each other about showing Saturday 3pm games. The EFL believe this could be beneficial as it would give clubs the option to opt in or out.
The second option would see the iFollow service operate in the same way it did during lockdown. The money made from the first 500 iFollow passes sold to the away team will be handed to the home team to mitigate any impact on away ticket sales.
Many believe the move to ease the blackout rule could be beneficial as there are plenty of fans who are seeking to live stream away matches on their own digital platforms in Leagues One, Two and the National League.
Therefore, clubs could make money from showing the games on iFollow without impacting the numbers of supporters travelling to away games.
There is also a view that staging live screenings at their own stadiums would allow them to open corporate hospitality suites and generate further revenue.
Bradford City CEO Ryan Sparks is in favour of the 3pm Saturday blackout rule being scrapped
Bradford City CEO Ryan Sparks says he is in favour of the 3pm Saturday blackout rule being scrapped. He says believes the decision will ‘open up new revenue streams for clubs’.
Sparks told iNews: ‘During the pandemic we saw the power of technology when iFollow replaces matchday for fans and in my opinion that technology has to be improved to open up new revenue streams for clubs in the EFL.
‘I know there’s opposition and people asking: ‘Will away fans still come?’ It’s a fear for League One or League Two clubs but they are two different markets. People who want to go to away games will still go to away games – the numbers don’t change when we have midweek games that are on iFollow.
‘What you do get is a not inconsiderable extra revenue stream from those who wouldn’t go to the game but buy an iFollow pass. It is about opening up that new revenue stream.’
Meanwhile, the likes of Tranmere chairman Mark Palios is against the rule change – claiming the decision would ‘absolutely’ hit attendance figures at his club.
Tranmere chairman Mark Palios is against the rule change as it hit his attendance figures
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