The news that a ninth Leicester City league game of the season has been picked by Sky Sports for live television coverage has sparked a lot of anger amongst fans.
To get a sense of the response this evening’s Football Forum is well worth a listen.
Most of the fury has been directed at Sky, below are the games they have been moved this season listed by kick-off times.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)
Birmingham City (H)
Nottingham Forest (H)
Derby County (H)
Derby County (A)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (A)
So just two of Leicester City’s remaining home games are now scheduled to kick-off at 3 p.m. on a Saturday. That could fall to one should the Foxes’ final home match with Watford look juicy enough to tempt to the TV executives.
The upside is that Leicester have benefitted from useful TV revenues and worldwide exposure. Championship football is broadcast in every corner of the globe.
The downside is many fans will miss the rearranged game for all sorts of perfectly valid reasons – and no amount of HD or surround sound can make up for actually being there.
This isn’t something new. Leicester have been shown live on TV about 10 times a season for the last four years. What is different this year is the very strong 7:2 ratio of home to away games selected for TV coverage.
At the start of the season season ticket holders saw a fixture list which promised 17 home Saturday 3 p.m kick-offs. Thanks to Sky TV picks (and in one instance the selection of a Tigers game for a Saturday evening kick-off, meaning City had to play on the Sunday) the maximum is now 8.
Whilst it’s clear that no club happy to take the shilling of the broadcasters can expect its fixtures to be left alone – it might be sensible for future TV deals to include a maximum number of games in which a team can be shown.
Indeed, this already happens in the Premier League, where Sky and ESPN can only show each club a certain number of times on their respective channels.
Right now Sky is obliged to show one match from every Championship ground each season, but there is no maximum. It might be sensible to implement one.
At the moment fans desperate for more Saturday 3 p.m. kick-offs have one bit of good news. Next season the Football League will start its competitions on the first weekend of August to accommodate an extra Saturday game. That, it might interest you to know, was at the request of the clubs.