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Barcelona vs Real Madrid: why UK soccer fans won’t be able to watch El Clásico live

Arguably the biggest club game in the world will not be broadcast on British television, as Spain’s big two go head to head on Saturday in LaLiga.

Cómo ver el Barcelona - Real Madrid en Estados Unidos
Kevin JairajUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

There’s a classic commotion in the United Kingdom. The upcoming Clásico, the first meeting of Barcelona and Real Madrid of the 2023/24 season, has had plenty of hype behind it. Both teams are vying for top spot in the LaLiga standings, new players are catching the global eye, and there’s a bundle of noise in the background causing additional friction. Perfect conditions for the biggest rivalry going, so surely everyone will be tuned in, right?

Watch a live stream of El Clásico on fuboTV, which offers a free trial

Barcelona vs Real Madrid: why UK soccer fans won’t be able to watch El Clásico live

No Clásico for UK viewers

Well, not in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the nations that form the UK. There’s a law that prohibits television broadcasts of football matches between 14:45 and 17:15 local time. Barça and Madrid kick off at 16:15 in Spain, which is 15:30 around the British Isles (10:15 ET in the US) and so it’s a blackout for television companies eager to attract millions of interested viewers.

Why is there a UK ‘blackout’?

This law is not a recent development, so it’s not a great surprise, although some would argue the choice of kick off time is. The ‘blackout’ has been in place since the 1960s and is expected to remain in effect until at least 2029. The primary purpose of this law is to encourage attendance at English stadiums further down the footballing pyramid (there are 92 professional teams in England alone and many other beyond that!)

So, for English fans especially, they will now miss out on watching Jude Bellingham’s official debut in a Clásico, never mind the talents of Vinicius, Ter Stegen, Kroos, Gündogan, and more. At least through legals channels. Keegan Pierce, the General Manager of LaLiga for the UK and Ireland, spoke about the situation.

“We are disappointed. British fans will not be able to watch the Clásico or Bellingham’s debut this weekend due to the self-imposed rule in the UK of not broadcasting football on Saturdays from 14:45. While we fully support measures to encourage attendance at English stadiums, we believe that the blackout should be limited to domestic football on television, not foreign competitions.”

Bellingham is causing a frenzy in England, as well as Spain, but football fans in his country will miss the Real Madrid midfielder in action against his new club’s eternal rival. It’s not the first time that this rule has been called into question, as every time there’s a Clásico at these afternoon hours, there is a belief from many that this law should be reconsidered. After all, not everyone has the opportunity to attend football stadiums every weekend, and depriving people of watching matches like the Clásico is a concern.

How can UK fans follow El Clásico?

On the bright side, AS USA is here to help and our Roddy will be bringing our readers a Clásico live feed that almost makes it feel as you’re in the stadium, never mind sat at home or in the pub watching on a rectangular screen. Join him from around midday for all the latest news and then the action as it happens.