When I wrote my piece on Sky this morning, I had no idea I’d be writing about satellite broadcasting and its impact on football again so soon. But trust the SFA to give me a reason to. The news today that Premier Sports has been given prime Scottish football fixtures – Scottish Cup ties including one of the semi-final games – is scandalous.
This is all about money but I wonder just what kind of piddling sums are involved here. I’ll tell you this much; watching football on TV no longer involves piddling sums. Football is now fragmented across multiple channels and multiple viewing types.
Whereas once when you bought a TV package you could reasonably expect to be covered for any and all games you might want to see, separate contracts are now needed if you want to watch just English, Scottish and European games.
Add to this now Premier Sports, and a fan who wanted to watch football across the UK including European fixtures, would now need to have deals with three separate broadcasters. This is ridiculous. Do they think fans are made of money?
Do they think all of us can just afford to keep on spending like this? To watch the same games as you would have done five years ago now requires Premier Sports, Sky, BT and the latest abomination, Eleven Sports.
There is no way the average punter can afford to attend games and pay for all that.
I know Scottish football needs money, but the more this goes on the further removed the game is from ordinary supporters. We all want to watch our teams play, but not at this price. The governing bodies have a greater responsibility than bringing in money; fans already have to build their entire diaries around TV schedules. Now those who want to watch games are forced to choose between expensive tickets or ever more expensive home options.
The total disregard this shows for all of us is disgraceful.
The SFA says this will mean “more games than ever” are available for fans to watch; absolute cobblers.
It means that more games will be available for those who can afford, or are willing, to pay for them. Those are exactly the sort of weasel words you expect from our governing bodies, who don’t give a monkeys about the fans anyway.
On top of that, you can predict with dread certainty, who the teams who’ll feature in the live games on BBC will be … it’ll be two from Glasgow, that much is a virtual guarantee. It’s the game that almost totally caters to a certain segment of the audience and usually at the expense of the rest.
I hope viewing figures crater, as they have for Champions League football on BT Sport. To keep asking fans to find more and more money, even to watch matches on the telly, it’s surely unsustainable in the long term.
Between driving the insanity of the transfer market and shuffling those who go to games about like sheep, the TV companies now seem determined to squeeze every last morsel of money out of the people who watch the sport.
They are killing football and our governing bodies are helping them.
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