Premier League football on a Friday night is set to become a regular feature this season. A great move for armchair fans or another kick in the teeth for the beautiful game’s more traditional supporters?
In the first of what will become a regular feature here on the NWS Blog, we’ll be tackling a burning sporting issue and pitting two (or more!) of our knowledgeable sports fanatics’ Head2Head.
First up, the thorny issue of Friday night Premier League football matches…
Under the latest broadcasting deal for the 2016-17 season, 12 matches will be played on a Friday evening for the enjoyment of live TV audiences in the UK and across the World, starting with Southampton’s long trip north to face Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Amazing news for armchair fans, but what about the loyal supporters who actually go to the matches? And isn’t just another case of the Premier League muscling in on other events in the sporting calendar like Rugby League, who already stage matches on Fridays to avoid clashing with the nation’s favourite game?
Making the case for Friday Night football is our very own Alex Royle, a big Liverpool supporter, while our resident Evertonian Mark Gent is making the counter-argument… A Red and a Blue going Head2Head in our first debate, this could get tasty!
First up is Alex and why we should celebrate more football on the TV…
Football is a global game now. The Premier League is renowned for being the most competitive and best spectator league in the world. Just look at Leicester City winning the title last season, it was eagerly followed across the globe and was simply a phenomenon that may never happen again. Games on a Friday night allow more viewers from all over globe to tune in and that in turn brings in more revenue for our beloved clubs.
While money is blamed for the detrimental decline of the English national team, there is no better spectacle than watching Suarez or Ibrahimovic scoring a wonder goal in our Premier League. Without the money TV brings into the game, we may be limited to watching Joey Barton or Emile Heskey. Sport is a spectacle and the majority of fans want the most entertaining matches with the best players.
The question is quite simple, would you prefer to watch the exhilarating Arsenal versus Liverpool game last weekend, with seven goals scored and constant end-to-end action, or would you prefer to watch Norwich limp to a 0-0 draw against Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship instead?
The NFL ranks top of income from broadcasting rights with an estimated at £4.14billion, the Premier League is currently estimated at around £2.5billion. Everybody knows that our football is the real football and it would be great to finally be bigger (in terms of revenue). Let’s get the Yanks to stop calling football soccer!
In a day and age where brand image is everything, appealing to a broader audience is becoming increasingly important. You have Premier League clubs touring Asia for more fans and inevitably more money, you have the NFL playing some of their games at Wembley and then you have the global sponsorship deals and billionaire oil-rich owners. Football is no longer a working-class game it once was, and perhaps these Friday night kick-offs may take it to the next level?
For the casual armchair sports fan, watching teams playing on a Friday is a great start to your weekend. And if your favourite team wins by 10pm you have the whole weekend to celebrate. If Manchester United win on Friday, I doubt their fans (or Jose Mourinho for that matter) would care what day the game is played!
These days not everybody works 9-5, Monday to Friday. Let’s give an opportunity to those working shifts, the chefs or the retail workers forced to work all weekend. Don’t they deserve the opportunity to enjoy live Premier League football too? A game on a Friday night could be their only chance to get to or see a game.
After all isn’t football for all fans?
So we’ve heard why we should embrace this brave new world of Friday night footy, but what about the counter-argument? Over to you Mark…
Just when you think the Premier League couldn’t become any more money-orientated they unleash the fascinating new concept of Friday Night Football!
As if we don’t get enough coverage every other day of the week, the one free night we do have will now be laden with more Premier League football all for Sky’s financial pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong I love football and am a keen follower of the games televised across the weekend; I just feel another night of football is slowly killing interest for the real fans of the sport who have to make arrangements to actually follow their teams home and away.
So far we have three confirmed fixtures on a Friday night:
There is a glaring issue here that none of these fixtures are remotely local for any travelling away fans. That means another day taken off work in order to watch your team. When I speak to people who have been following football for a lot longer than I have they always talk about the ‘glory days’ and the traditions that surrounded the hallowed Saturday 3pm kick-offs.
The game is changing rapidly in the modern era and that is being reflected in the watching habits of the general public.
With Sky and latterly BT monopolising the football that we get drip fed, I worry that the money-hungry overlords running such broadcasting companies will move even further away from the traditions and the requests of the real fans in order to sell NFL-style televised season ticket passes – yet more money for fans to fork out!
You could argue that even more football on television could inspire our future generations to pick up a ball and try to emulate the Premier League superstars they see on TV. But ever since Sky’s introduction into the Premier League in 1992, we haven’t really witnessed any major success on the international front have we?
Football is a game for the masses and I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that it should be made accessible for all through the medium of television.
However my argument is solely founded upon the fact that too much overkill can destroy the enjoyment of the beautiful game for the genuine home and away fans. It all comes down to personal preference but I’m all for preserving the identity of our beautiful game.