Friday, 4 May 2012

Where did Saturday go?

The Premier League has opened the bidding on the rights to broadcast live football for 2013-16. The broadcasters awarded contracts to show Premier League football will get an extra sixteen matches, bringing the number up to 154 matches or forty per cent of the total. 

None of those matches will be shown at three o'clock on a Saturday, another blow to the traditional kick-off time. And while Sunderland v Arsenal or Spurs v Newcastle at 12.30 p.m. might be a travel problem for away fans, late morning here is of course mid-afternoon to early evening in massive target audiences for the Premier League's marketing department like the Gulf, Russia, India and the Far East.

At least the Premier League is seen by the FA as one of its main assets. For the second year in a row, the FA Cup Final is being held early in the season alongside League matches. All the things you used to be able to say about it - played at three o'clock on the Saturday after the end at the season at Wembley in front of a hundred thousand fans - have been pushed aside in the last decade. You get the feeling that for the FA it's now like a bit of old furniture that doesn't really fit the trendy new colour scheme which they would love to throw in a skip if it wasn't for the fans' emotional attachment to it.

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