A Happy New Year to all our readers. To kick off 2015, even before the action starts for us at the Ethihad, Peter Lynn looks at the way TV contracts and especially late changes to the fixtures list cause disruption and cost to football fans …
In keeping with the New Year Resolutions theme from other contributors, here is mine. “So I start a revolution from my bed” … please can we have our game back?
(with apologies to those of you who feel aggrieved that I have chosen an Oasis lyric two hours ahead of our kick off against Man Citeh)
I have a problem with the control that the TV companies have over our game.
The latest example – Friday night games – follows on from the 39th game idea etc etc.
Now I am not so naive as to imagine that things can stay the same forever or that virtually all the Premier League (PL) clubs could exist without the TV revenue. However, my concern is that the opinion and welfare of the “ordinary” fan going to games is being totally overlooked.
Although one of these myself, I am not being entirely selfish in seeking to address this issue. I genuinely believe that, left unchecked, the lack of consideration shown to fans will lead to half-empty stadiums which will not make attractive viewing for the TV audience.
This will devalue the product which the PL has to offer to the TV companies and the TV companies will then lower their bids for the screening rights. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce where this eventually leaves the clubs.
Now I realise this may sound fanciful but I am convinced by my own experiences of the difficulties of trying to plan to watch Sunderland play home and away that it will happen, it’s just a question of when.
I am, in the main, alluding to the scheduling and rescheduling of TV broadcast games and the lack of notice that arises, meaning that travel arrangement etc prove almost impossible.
This, of course, makes life for the away fans (and those home fans who travel from afar) frustrating, at the very least. I am sure you know the situation well.
I have given this matter a lot of thought and want to try to do something about it despite being told by friends that I am wasting my time. I have already written to Margaret Byrne at SAFC on the subject and had a sympathetic response.
I think that to achieve anything will be difficult but that does not deter me from trying – as those that established the Twenty is Plenty campaign did, who I like to credit with helping bring about the PL money (£250Kpa?) that each club now receives to help fans/youth policies etc, some of which SAFC use to reduce ticket prices.
I am not sure what to do but doing nothing is not an option for me.