All English Football League matches to be broadcasted live when season resumes
The Football League today confirmed that once the Championship, League One and League Two seasons can be resumed fixtures will likely be held behind closed doors initially.
Today marks the 132th anniversary of the foundation of the world’s oldest football league, the EFL. In a statement released this morning by its Chairperson, Rick Parry, it was revealed that a spell behind closed doors is on the cards for Championship, League One and League Two clubs.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced yesterday that the UK’s current lockdown measures amid the fight against the coronavirus crisis would continue for at least another three weeks, and Parry admitted that football’s eventual return would not be as the spectacle that we know it.
“Unfortunately, I cannot tell you today when football will resume, though whenever we do return,matches are likely to be played without crowds.
“And whilst we are unfortunately without the presence of the hundreds of thousands of supporters who pass through EFL turnstiles each week, we will endeavour to bring live football direct into your homes once it returns.”
Broadcasting of EFL
Broadcasting of the lower league has been a contentious issues in recent years with the EFL’s iFollow service offering certain games available live online. A broadcasting ‘blackout’ exists over Saturday afternoon fixtures to protect attendances of lower league matches but with clubs currently without anymatchday revenue this restriction seems likely to be removed.
“Plans are continuing to be worked up for all games to be broadcast either via our broadcast partners, iFollow or equivalent Club streaming services.”
The majority of EFL clubs utilise either the iFollow service or their own in-house platform so in theory the move to deliver all games live would not require too much work. At the moment most fixtures are only available to overseas viewers but if fans are not allowed to the stadium that would have to change.
Last season the EFL’s total attendance reached a 60-year high of over 18 million, with an average of 11,113 supporters attending each of the 1,655 matches.
Understandably the UK is some way from allowing that sort of public gathering but this solution would at least let the season reach its conclusion on the pitch while keeping fans safe, a priority for Parry and the EFL.
“With or without spectators, delivering a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season remains our goal to ensure the integrity of our competitions.
“The health and wellbeing of our Clubs, their players and staff, and you – the fans – remains our first priority, and so you can appreciate that we want to give thorough and rigorous thought to these matters.”