Pat McVey replies to Berti McIlkenny's article

Published on Wednesday 20th July, 2011 by Celtic Trust

Pat adds his thoughts to the discussion on kick-off times and television contracts

Some weeks ago Berti McIlkenny wrote an extensive piece on the issue of television contracts and kick-off times:  an issue which has caused all sorts of problems for travelling fans.  Here, Pat McVey adds to the debate with his own thoughts on the matter.  His thoughts, originally written in the comments section under Berti's piece are extensive enough to merit a separate article.


Excellent bit of work Berti.

From the data supplied it looks like Celtic are either losing out overall or are not taking in what they should be given our importance to keeping the game alive in Scotland.   

What stops a game that is being broadcast on TV on a Saturday kicking off at 3pm is the 3pm to 5pm FIFA/UEFA embargo on broadcasting live games. This is justified  on the basis that   

  1.  it stop a club’s supporters going to the live game and
  2.  it might draw supporters from other clubs away  from watching their team play.  

 This FIFA/UEFA justification needs to be re-examined not only in light of your findings under a) i.e  how much the home club stands to lose/gain overall from the TV deal and b) just exactly how much should Celtic supporters have to put up with in case say the Derby v Sheffield United gate was reduced if a Celtic game was being broadcast but also in light of developments in the football TV broadcasting field generally.

 There are two issues here: technical developments in the shape of IPTV (the ability to stream live games over the Internet rather than to air that offers the prospect of an entirely different delivery and payment model over the next five years see –

 but also legal developments arising from the challenge to Sky by Portsmouth pub landlady Karen Murphy who is fighting for the right to purchase games being televised outside the UK during 3 to 5 for showing in the UK at those very times.

 In the case of the former and in light of your data, Celtic should be taking a very robust stance with the SPL, who are I understand looking at an SPL TV model, before the next TV deal is agreed.

 I think there might be a case for them taking the ball home and negotiating their own deal with each club as suggested in the IPTV article and it would be interesting to hear Celtic's stance given that they of all the SPL clubs have the most experience of this type of broadcasting delivery.

 However it is the legal challenge by Karen Murphy that was upheld in February and is likely to be ratified some time this year (and Murdoch is not going to be as able to influence that outcome as he might have been) that opens up the debate on your core issue - the 3pm to 5pm Kick off times.

 If I can walk into any pub in the UK or my local and there is a game at Celtic Park being broadcast on say Arab TV that I am now able to legally watch, what is the point of the 3pm to 5pm blackout?  Celtic, indeed football at large will need to come to terms with changes in the legal as well as the technical developments landscape..

  The way of thinking needs to change because, as you say in your article, football on TV NEEDS crowds at games to add to the spectacle. This interdependence is an angle that needs to be examined more closely. The fact is the gap between the cost of watching a game on TV and attending is far too great and in the case of Celtic at least the greatest onus falls on match day attendees. In short TV viewers get to watch the games far too cheaply in relative terms to attendees (not to mention  Celtic watchers who use pirate streams to watch for nothing).

  Somehow, a means of sharing the load of supporting Celtic more equitably between match day attendees and TV viewers has to be found. The challenge will be 

  1.   to get the games an individual wants to watch (as opposed by the ones foisted on them by the Sky schedule as being the way football is delivered to the customer and
  2. Charging that individual an amount that enables the load of supporting Celtic to be more equally shared across the full spectrum of our support.

 This is a debate important enough for Celtic’s future to be put on the top of the Celtic and support business agenda.




Tags: SPL ,Finance

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