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Is it time to abort the Saturday football broadcast blackout?

March 20, 2024

British television comes with some bizarre rules. The TV licence fee is one that always divides opinion, but there’s another that’s existed since the 1960s: the Saturday football broadcast blackout.

If you live in the UK and want to watch a 3pm football match on a Saturday, you only have one option: join a legitimate gambling site and stream it there. Or, more specifically, join a site not based in the UK – non UK licence casino sites can be found on Casino Gam – as British-based sites still have to follow the Saturday football broadcast blackout rule.

There is another option: buy a ticket and watch the match in person. As you can imagine, that’s not the most feasible of options for the average football fan. It begs the question, should we think about removing this strange broadcasting rule?

What is the Saturday Football Broadcast Blackout?

The Saturday Football Broadcast Blackout was introduced in the 1960s to help protect lower-league football clubs. It was thought that, if everyone could watch football on the TV, they wouldn’t attend stadiums to watch smaller, local, teams. Having fewer people through the gates would mean small clubs lost a lot of revenue.

As a consequence, it was agreed by the UK government that no football can be shown on live TV between 2:45 pm and 5:15 pm on a Saturday.

This doesn’t just refer to English football; broadcasters can’t show ANY football matches from any league during this period.

Is a Broadcast Blackout still necessary?

Fans have grown increasingly frustrated by the broadcast blackout as they believe it’s totally out of date and should be abolished. The main question is whether or not it’s necessary anymore – would showing football on live TV really affect lower-league attendance?

The only way to know for sure would be by removing this rule and seeing what happens. Given that the biggest TV audience of the year so far was a football match, you can kind of see the argument that showing live football attracts massive audiences.

On the other hand, we can look at a series of other arguments against the football blackout, such as:

  • No other country in Europe has one
  • It prevents fans from watching games when they can’t afford a ticket
  • Ticket sales aren’t the only source of income for clubs
  • It stops other forms of football from being seen at a prime time

No other country in Europe has a broadcast blackout for football

Football is the main sport across many European countries, yet the likes of Germany, Spain, Italy and France don’t impose a 3pm blackout. They show top-flight matches freely on TV screens and still see good attendance figures across the board.

It’s particularly impressive in Germany as attendance in the country’s second division outranked its first division earlier this year. This was the first time it happened and shows that having football on the telly doesn’t make a massive difference.

If other countries are coping fine without a blackout, what’s the point in keeping this one for much longer?

It prevents fans from watching games when they can’t afford a ticket

Not everyone can afford to watch a live football match. Even some lower-tier club tickets are too much for some people. These individuals are then stuck without any football to watch despite hundreds of games happening at 3 pm every Saturday.

Fans are blocked from watching their favourite team play, and all because of a silly broadcast rule. Everyone deserves the right to watch who they want, whenever they want.

Ticket sales aren’t the only source of income for clubs

When this rule was initially introduced, ticket sales were the main source of income for clubs across the UK. If they weren’t getting people through the turnstiles, then they weren’t making any money.

Times have changed.

Nowadays, broadcast rights are a major source of income for British football clubs – and this rule means they’re potentially missing out on more money! Not to mention the endless sponsorship deals being done with clubs these days. Teams in the second, third or fourth divisions are getting five or six-figure sponsorship deals with major brands, bringing in so much income.

There’s no reliance on ticket sales anymore, so why are we still acting like there is?!

It stops other forms of football from being seen at prime times

The biggest problem with the Saturday football blackout is how it affects other forms of the beautiful game. Banning live football at 3pm may sound like a good idea as fans attend lower league games rather than watching Premier League matches. But what if the 3pm spot could be used to highlight women’s football?

Fans of the WSL can watch matches on Sky Sports or the BBC in 2024. That’s a big step, but look at when the games are being broadcast. Thanks to this rule, they’re usually at 12 pm or 6 pm, in direct competition with the EPL and Football League matches.

Imagine a world where the 3pm broadcast rule was tweaked to allow only certain games to be shown during this period. The WSL could reach a wider audience and perhaps we could also show non-league football to shine the light on grassroots clubs as well.

Lets say goodbye to this outdated broadcasting rule

There simply aren’t any good enough reasons to keep this broadcasting rule in place. Football should be shown on British TV at any time during a Saturday. Especially if we reserve this slot for leagues that don’t get a lot of attention. It’s an outdated and archaic regulation that makes no sense in modern times and only serves to encourage football fans to find alternative ways of watching matches.

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