The dangers in allowing unlimited live TV games


By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings

If the reports are to be believed – and I have to admit I treat anything coming out of the media these days with almost total scepticism -, we are all on the verge of being ‘uplifted’ as a nation like never before!

Football is on the horizon and the cowboys (pun intended) are riding to the rescue with the prospect of wall-to-wall games over the weekends, five back-to-back on Saturdays followed by another five back-to-back on Sundays.

And as if that wasn’t enough – that lot will be supplemented with another ample helping of football in mid-week. All in the name of squeezing 92 league games, plus cup games, into an ever-closing window of opportunity.

Personally speaking what would uplift me most right now would be to wake up tomorrow and be told the death toll from this virus had reduced to nil and the latest reported cases was a big fat zero. But that’s not likely to happen for a long while yet I fear.

The 3pm Saturday afternoon televised ban has been lifted – and the question is being asked whether it shouldt be just temporary – or made permanent once this interrupted season has been finally concluded?

Would that be a good thing or would that mean football, and Premier League football in particular, becoming even more of a hostage to the TV companies?

I am lucky to be fit and healthy, and in a fortunate position financially to be able to not only afford a West Ham season ticket for home games, but be able to travel away to see my beloved Hammers too.

But I am very well aware many people are less fortunate than me, both in health and wealth. Televised football, and televised football involving the Hammers in particular, is vital to them in order to maintain the treasured link with their team. I totally appreciate that.

It just concerns me what effect increased TV coverage will have on the game as a whole. By that I mean right across the spectrum down the professional leagues and right across the semi-profession game.

The little teams that don’t have the benefit of lucrative TV deals and TV money, whether they get supporters in through the turnstiles or not! The clubs that desperately need the few hundred, never mind thousands of gate-paying fans on a Saturday afternoon to break even and survive.

Profit is a word that just does not feature in the vocabulary for those little clubs. How would they fare if their 3 o’clock kick off was up against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United on a wet, windy and uninviting Saturday afternoon? We have to try to protect our grass roots game – as any gardener knows when the roots die the game is up!

We are already well aware of the consequence of football being in hock to TV. Does anyone think the uncertainty of whether the Premier League will return or not this season would have dragged on for 11 weeks – and still counting – if those huge sums of money weren’t involved? Of course not.

The whole issue would have been wrapped up weeks ago. We have all said during this crisis, putting football before health and wellbeing is lamentable. But they are just not listening.

I have no doubt they will choose to turn a deaf ear to any opposition to even more take-over of our game though, if it involved even more money. So maybe I’m flogging a dead horse.

On the plus side of course, with ‘live’ crowds declining, the return to ‘safe standing’ may well be closer than we think for those of us still prepared to suffer the elements. With plenty of room to spread out – the safety factor would obviously be far easier to handle. Or is that just me being cynical?

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • Good Ole Daze says:

    Great post, Allen – as usual. The affect on the football pyramid of both the pandemic and the Prem on TV mustn’t be forgotten..

  • Allen says:

    Cheers mate. Just trying to do my bit for the ‘little men’!

  • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

    Great post thanks Allen, to be honest the thought of West Ham returning does nothing for me, wall to wall football leaves me feeling cold. Perhaps that will change when it does return but hard to see beyond the greed of the PL business machine, they have been raking in billions for decades yet still can’t suck up a £340 million dent …

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