by Chris Rowland.
First of all it was Sky, and Sunday afternoons. Then came Saturday late, and Saturday early. Sunday was staggered like the heats of a final – the 12.00, 12.30, 1.30, 3.00, 3.30, 4.00, 4.30, 5.30 ….
Then BT Sport muscled their way in, brandishing their wad. Or rather their customers’ wad. And now this season, the broadcasters, responding to a complete absence of demand, have introduced Friday evening and Monday evening league matches. BBC weighed in with their Friday night FA Cup – who can forget our really convenient Friday night match at Exeter?
Speaking of total disregard for the match-going supporters, as opposed to the armchair variety, we could take a brief FA Cup diversion and look at the decision to force all semi-finals to be played at Wembley, not caring too much about whether fans from the north are inconvenienced for a late Saturday kick off (easy getting there, not so getting back) or an early Sunday kick off (the reverse). The final itself kicking off at 17.30 isn’t exactly convenient to the northern fan either – tell you what, just keep waving a v-sign in our faces and maybe one day we won’t be there anymore. Some will decide they’ve had enough of being messed around. It’s already happening in the FA Cup with some pitiful attendances.
(I know it’s not just Liverpool who are affected, though we do tend to have a lot of games switched for live TV. The supporters of all 20 Premier League clubs are affected. Those based in the country’s extremities – eg the north-east, the south coast, East Anglia – are disproportionately hard hit, whilst those in the Midlands are mitigated to an extent by having less time and distance for travelling due to their central location. But even so, an Albion fan isn’t exactly going to boing-boing in ecstasy at the prospect of having a game at Middlesbrough moved to a Monday night.)
All things considered, it doesn’t impact on their lives of the broadcasters’ intended audience that much – wherever in the world they happen to be. It enables them to see their team when they maybe wouldn’t otherwise if the games weren’t televised.
So far so OK.
But now let’s look at those who actually go to the matches. The ones who fill the stadia, make the noise and atmosphere without which the occasion is robbed of a crucial part of its theatre.
The rest of this article, which goes through Liverpool’s current season game by game to show the extent of how live Tv is affecting us, is for Subscribers only.