Scrap the 1960s blackout law that stops Saturday 3pm football matches from being televised

Scrap the 1960s blackout law that stops Saturday 3pm football matches from being televised

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terry winstanley started this petition to The FA and

It is time that this totally outdated 1960s law was now scrapped for good as it is totally out of date and unfair, especially to ALL disabled people who are agoraphobic for example and unable to go to a live football 3pm kick off game.

It is in my opinion totally unfair when people can watch live Saturday 3pm kick offs, if you are in America or Saudi Arabia etc, BUT if your in the UK, this stupid outdated law, prevents ALL tv companies from showing live Saturday 3pm kick offs, it is way overdue that this rule was finally scrapped as it is now over 40 years old and technology has significantly moved on massively in these 40+ years, IF British people can't watch Saturday 3pm kick offs live, then NOBODY should be able too, the TV companies should still be showing ALL football matches live as was done last season, we still are NOT out of covid, so it is absolutely ridiculous to put a stop to ALL football being on TV, when this is something that is done in places like America and Saudi Arabia etc.

And these idiots wonder why people still watch illegal football streams, thats partly because of this stupid ridiculous outdated 40+ years old rule that stops ALL UK football 3pm matches from being broadcast live. We are the ONLY country who abides by this stupid outdated law. 

Lets finally scrap this disgusting outdated rule from the 1960s that stops ALL Saturday 3pm kick offs from being televised on British TV, if other countries around the world can watch them live, then we should also, as I have pointed out that this is 100% discrimination when it comes to certain groups of disabled people like myself who suffer from agoraphobia who are NOT even able to go to watch a live football match even if we wanted too, but this outdated rule is now completely out of date and as I have just proved is discriminatory against disabled people, the fairest thing would be to amend this stupid outdated law, ALL football matches should be available to be watched on tv, NOT just some matches, even though fans and supporters can go back into grounds, what about the excess of Manchester United supporters who want to see Manchester United live, Old Trafford only holds about 78,000 people, what about the 78,001 supporter who can't get into Old Trafford to watch United play live or the many thousands of disabled Manchester United supporters who can't go to the game, if we are NOT given the right to be able to watch ALL football matches both live at stadiums and live on tv, then this IS Illegal discrimination, until this outdated law is axed, British TV football watchers will continue to watch illegal streams of these matches because you are NOT giving us the legal right to watch these on paid tv channels when people ALL around the world in places like America and Saudi Arabia CAN watch ALL football matches INCLUDING the Saturday 3pm kick, off matches live, either make this far and axe this totally outdated law, or STOP all other countries around the world from being allowed to watch these Saturday 3pm kick offs live, also we are still NOT free of covid, so it is wrong that British football fans are being forced to go into stadiums to watch their clubs live with a risk of still catching covid, instead of giving people a choice of going to watch the game live or on tv live, for too many years this has been a totally unfair system, ALL British football fans want is to have a way of finally being able to watch ALL football matches including Saturday 3pm kick offs just like they can in America and Saudi Arabia etc, until this outdated law is finally scrapped, people will continue to watch illegal football streams, instead these should be incorporated into the tv companies broadcasting schedule so EVERYONE has a choice of being able to watch these matches or not, technology has moved on a lot in 40+ years when this antiquated law was brought out, time for it to finally go, and all football bodies including UEFA scrapped it for good.

Why is there a Saturday football blackout in the UK for live streams & TV broadcasts?

Goal brings you all you need to know about the football blackout and why top-flight matches are forbidden to be televised on Saturday at 3pm
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Since before the inception of the Premier League, Saturday 3pm kick-offs have been forbidden to be televised in the UK, with broadcasters only able to show the early and late matches on national television.

Though the 3pm kick-off is the slot in which the majority of weekend football matches are played with multiple games happening at the same time, they are never broadcast live on television due to the 'football blackout'.

But what is the football blackout, and why aren't 3pm games allowed to be televised on UK television? Goal brings you everything you need to know as well as its history, reasoning and future.

What is the football blackout?
Which countries observe the football blackout?
Has there been any effort to get rid of the football blackout?
What is the football blackout?
The football blackout follows the rule that no Premier League, Football League or FA Cup matches be broadcast on live television on Saturday between 2:45pm and 5:15pm. Games may be played on that day and on that time, but they are forbidden to be televised – with Saturday televised kick-offs mostly occurring at 12:30pm or 5:30pm.

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This follows a rule set in place since the 1960s when Burnley chairman Bob Lord successfully convinced fellow Football League chairmen that televised matches on Saturday afternoons would negatively impact the attendance of lower league games.

He was convinced, for instance, that if Manchester United were to play Liverpool on Saturday at 3pm, fans of lower division teams would instead opt to watch the match on television instead of attend the match of the team they actually supported.

As a result, the financial income of lower league football would be reduced.

More than 40 years on, the rule is still in place. Foreign matches are also affected by the blackout – Sky Sports do not show the first 15 minutes of a La Liga match that kicks off at 5pm UK time.

Until recently, the FA Cup final was an exception and had been broadcast at 3pm on a Saturday in May; however, in 2012, the FA Cup Final was moved to 5pm.

To be in accordance with blackout rules, the final day of the Premier League has all ten games kick-off at the same time on Sunday at 3pm with the final round of Football League fixtures scheduled from 3pm onwards on a Saturday in order to broadcast multiple games.

During the blackout period, live radio broadcasts are permitted both nationally and locally.

It is also illegal for public houses such as pubs and bars to broadcast 3pm games via a live stream.

Which countries observe the football blackout?
Millwall fans 2017

The UK is the only country to prohibit the broadcast of 3pm Saturday kick-offs.

The country has even made a tradition of the 3pm blackout, with Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday – a show where a panel of pundits narrate in-game action excitedly to viewers with none of the match footage actually being showed – ever popular while the blackout could be one of the reasons as to why ratings for Match of the Day remain ever-popular.

Major European leagues in France, Spain, Germany and Italy do not observe such a blackout, and there has been sufficient evidence to prove that closed periods do not affect the outcome of lower league football match attendance.

It is a major irony that you are able to watch more Premier League games based in North America or Asia rather than England, who have prided themselves as a nation who are the home of football.

Has there been any effort to get rid of the football blackout?

Naturally, UK-based football fans don't always have the resources or financial ability to always attend the game on matchday, only able to follow their game on television – and not being able to watch your team at 3pm can be frustrating.

There has been research about the impact of televised football on matchday attendees, with the consensus being that there is little to no correlation (if you are a local supporter, you would attend your home game regardless of who played at 3pm on television).

In February 2011, Advocate General Kokott of the European Court of Justice launched an investigation into the "closed periods" and concluded that they did not affect match attendance at lower league games.

"It is, in fact, doubtful whether closed periods are capable of encouraging attendance at matches and participation in matches," she said in a statement.

"Both activities have a completely different quality to the following of a live transmission on television. It has not been adequately shown to the Court that the closed periods actually encourage attendance at and participation in matches.

"No closed periods were adopted in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, or in Northern Ireland, that is to say, within the sphere of influence of English football."

In 2016, Ofcom launched an investigation into the rights of televised football and surveyed football fans about whether they wanted to see a change.

Their findings concluded that football fans were keen to see a balance struck between the number of games televised and the number of games that are to kick-off on Saturday at 3pm.

In December of 2017, however, the Premier League announced plans to bring forward a new kick-off time on Saturday at 7:45pm starting from the 2019-20 season, with slots for eight games to be played at that time throughout the campaign.

Premier League must scrap 3pm TV restrictions after pandemic schedule - NEIL SQUIRES
Daily Express Chief Sports Writer Neil Squires argues it's time to leave the 3pm blackout rule in the past.
PUBLISHED: 08:00, Fri, Jun 19, 2020 | UPDATED: 20:57, Fri, Jun 19, 2020

It is, the Premier League are at pains to point out, a temporary relaxation - and there were no further Saturday 3pm kick-offs in the second wave of fixtures released on Thursday - but once the genie is out of the bottle it can be hard to wrestle back in.

The TV companies will have noted that a line has been crossed and you can be sure that they will be leaning in for more of the same in the future. Money talks loudly and they paid £4.464bn in the last auction of rights.

Spain, Italy and Germany do not have an equivalent no-go area so why should English football continue to stick by a gentlemen's agreement drawn up in the 60s?

 The broadcast landscape has changed dramatically since Bob Lord, the Burnley chairman, persuaded his fellow self-appointed guardians of the domestic game that televising games on a Saturday afternoon represented a threat to attendances.

The argument that to remove it permanently would affect participation at grass-roots level and crowds down the pyramid may once have been true but such is the choice of televised football available now that has lost much of its power.

If the opening match of the Premier League's comeback proved anything, it was that for all the hype, symbolism – poetry even – around it, a boring game of football on telly is still a boring game of football on telly.

It will serve an important purpose over the coming weeks but at the end of this blighted, strait-jacketed period, people will have endured quite enough of staring at a screen. They will crave the visceral feel of live sport again.

Once the restrictions are lifted and people feel safe again, sport should prepare itself for an explosion in attendances. It happened after the Second World War. It will happen again after this trauma too.

So let the broadcasters have their Saturday 3pm slot. And let the rest of us prepare for the blessed moment of release when we can switch off our sets, walk out of the front door and head to the match. The moment when life becomes 3D again.

The Premier League tried to prevent Karen Murphy showing illegal foreign feeds of matches in her Portsmouth pub. She took her case to the highest court in Europe and today a European Commission advocate general threatened to undermine the League's forthcoming multibillion-pound television rights auction. In the latest twist to a long-running legal saga, Juliane Kokott – one of eight EC advocate generals – advised the European court of justice to find in Murphy's favour in a judgment that was headed with the words "territorial exclusivity agreements relating to the transmission of football matches are contrary to European Union law".



At the Premier League's Gloucester Place headquarters, where every move is calibrated to oil the wheels of the most successfully marketed league in the world, they are not used to surprises. But the small core of executives, lawyers and advisers who have masterminded English football's boom in TV revenue were shocked by the strength of Kokott's language. What particularly disturbed them was her view that the Premier League's existing territory-by-territory rights model – which, the UK deal included, yielded £3.5bn for member clubs under the current three-year deal – was "tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market".

Kokott's advice is not binding but lawyers said today that the opinion of the advocate general was followed in around 70% of cases. She argued that separating the European market on a country by country basis and selling the rights exclusively to a single operator was "something which constitutes serious a impairment to the freedom to provide services".

In plain English, that means that the regulars at the Red, White and Blue who today raised a glass to their plucky landlady will be able to continue watching Premier League matches on Saturday afternoons, through a Greek broadcaster. And if the opinion of Kokott is carried by the ECJ, it will mean that consumers will be able to follow their lead and watch more live football for less (380 matches are broadcast in Europe, compared to 138 in the UK). It remains to be seen how many will vault through the practical hoops required to do so – purchasing a new decoder, subscribing to a European provider and pointing a satellite dish in the right direction.

"If followed by the full court, this opinion has serious implications for the Premier League and Sky," said Becket McGrath, a partner in EU and competition law at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. "In the short term, Sky will face more defections from subscribers to foreign sources of Premier League football. In the longer term, the Premier League is likely to receive less money when it next auctions off its TV rights, as no bidder will be prepared to offer as much for UK rights. It may ultimately be forced to abandon territorial licensing all together."

That course of action is seen as the most likely by rights experts, if the opinion of Kokott is adopted by the ECJ and survives the appeals process. If the Premier League was forced to sell its rights on a pan-European basis, to avoid a doomsday scenario in which consumers scoured Europe for the cheapest deals, it could still hurt its bottom line, as it would be less able to extract maximum value out of each market. Such a scenario would also force the Premier League to decide whether to turn its back on the 3pm-5pm blackout agreement and sell all 380 live matches on a pan-European basis.

The battle between the media giants who could compete in such a scenario – perhaps News Corporation, MediaSet, Canal Plus and Disney, which owns ESPN – would still drive substantial value. Also, the major growth markets are Asia and the US. Paradoxically, though, such an arrangement might result in concerns over competition at European Union level. If the Premier League was ultimately forced to abandon pan-European deals but also agree that each national broadcaster could sell its rights across the continent, that really would spell trouble.

Premier League lawyers will fight the judgment. But lawyers today warned that they were in uncharted territory. Alex Haffner, a senior associate and EC competition law expert at SNR Denton, said: "It's a clash between commercial justifications and the law. It's one of those things that has challenged the whole principle of how rights are sold."

The Premier League will be fighting on a number of fronts in the coming months and years to protect the model that has served it so well for 20 years. The ever-worsening problem of online piracy and the possibility that regulators will once again open up the question of the way it sells its rights will remain live threats and figure prominently in the in-tray of the incoming general secretary, Nic Coward.

In the meantime, Murphy's law will continue to breed unease and uncertainty at a time when the Premier League is gearing up for its next lucrative rights auction.

Could 3pm Saturday games be shown live?
Since the first live matches were shown on British television, long before they became the driver of a pay TV industry that would pay £1.7bn for domestic rights alone, there was collective agreement that a "blackout" from 3-5pm on Saturdays was desirable to protect lower-league attendances and participation.

But today's intervention by the EC's Juliane Kokott in the case brought against Karen Murphy will revive the debate about whether it has become an anachronism that does more harm than good. Kokott suggests it "cannot be ruled out" that the agreement is based on maintaining rights value rather than protecting small clubs.

She said: "It is, in fact, doubtful whether closed periods are capable of encouraging attendance at matches and participation in matches. Both activities have a completely different quality to the following of a live transmission on television". It has not been adequately shown to the court that the closed periods actually encourage attendance at and participation in matches."

The voluntary agreement – backed by the English football authorities, the government and Uefa – has held. But as the number of live matches has mushroomed so has the number of fixtures rescheduled as a result, in many cases angering fans.

If the Premier League was forced to start selling on a pan-European basis, it might have to take the decision to scrap the blackout to make the same number of games available across Europe. That could open up for the first time the possibility of selling club-by-club "season tickets" to watch every match on television or online – which might even increase revenue for clubs at all levels.

 The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Tuesday 8 February 2011. This article, examining the background to a legal battle by a Portsmouth pub landlady over the right to show 'illegal' feeds of Premier League football matches in her pub, inaccurately referred to a 'European commission advocate general'. The eight advocates general work for the court of justice of the European Union, not the European commission

So there we have it, this law is NOW totally outdated and finally needs to be scrapped as well as is and causes illegal discrimination against certain groups of disabled people who are NOT even able to go to a live football match but CAN'T watch the match live on tv either. It is time that ALL British football supporters were given the legal right to watch EVERY single game that is played live even season and NOT just games that have been cherry picked for us. This must also be done so as not to increase the expensive football packages that we have to have to watch ALL live football matches in Britain including ALL 3pm kick offs. The prices of tv packages keep on increasing yet we are still not given access to watch EVERY football match live like you can if you live in America or Saudi Arabia etc, they can do this also at  much cheaper price than British football fans can in our own country. This is totally wrong its time for us to be given the option to watch ALL Saturday 3pm kick offs live etc.

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