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Published on September 6, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour


The march of the match on telly

Televised football in pubs is taken as a given and often the only conundrum to solve is which pub to watch it in with your mates. Premier League, FA Cup, Football League, European Championship, Europa Cup, World Cup qualifiers, playoffs, penalty shoot-outs and players’ theatricals – we’re ready and waiting with pint in hand.

Premier League football on TV is shown on both Sky Sports and BT Sport with 168 games to be shown live this season. Sky Sports will broadcast 126 games exclusively live while BT Sport is to show 42 matches.

It’s perhaps too early in the season to gauge how popular the new Friday night Premier League football slot is going to be. After all, at the time of writing, there has been only one – Manchester United v Southampton.

But there are going to be ten of them before the season ends next May and the hope at Sky Sports is that having paid billions for the right to show top-flight football in a new primetime slot, millions tune in to see what is on offer – with signed-up pubs rightly expecting a bonanza.

Live Friday night football is not a new concept; Sky has been showing Football League fixtures on a Friday for some time while in August last year it broadcast Manchester United’s 0-1 victory at Aston Villa. However, that scheduling was because of “unique circumstances” while what we have now is long-term – a product of the record £5.14bn television deal Sky and BT Sport signed with the Premier League for the next three seasons.

Sky’s contribution stands at £4.2bn, an 83% increase on what it paid in the previous round of rights sales and which entitles it to show ten more fixtures, up from 116 to 126. Those ten are essentially the Friday games.

But the temptation to avoid hefty subscription fees is difficult for publicans to ignore. Nine North East pubs were ordered by the High Court recently to pay £44,008 to the Premier League for failing to follow guidelines and broadcasting games they hadn’t paid for. Using illegal foreign broadcast systems to show Premier League football is extremely risky.

The Premier League claimed several of the pubs in the region were using sophisticated logo masking technology in an attempt to prevent the league from taking legal action against them. The organisation is now warning other venues against using this type of technology if they are approached by suppliers.

Peter Scudamore, executive chairman of the Premier League, said: “We don’t want to take publicans to court or see them out of business, but we must protect the investment Sky and BT make in Premier League football.

“It means our clubs can play the sort of competitive and compelling football that makes thousands of fans head to the pub to watch the match with their mates in the first place.”



Saturday 10
Manchester United v Manchester City 12.30
Liverpool v Leicester City 17.30

Sunday 11
Swansea City v Chelsea 16.00

Monday 12
Sunderland v Everton 20.00

Friday 16
Chelsea v Liverpool 20.00

Saturday 17
Everton v Middlesbrough 17.30

Sunday 18
Watford v Manchester United 12.00
Crystal Palace v Stoke City 14.15
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland 16.30

Saturday 24
Manchester United v Leicester City 12.30
Arsenal v Chelsea 17.30

Sunday 25
West Ham v Southampton 16.00

Monday 26
Burnley v Watford 20.00

Friday 30
Everton v Crystal Palace 20.00

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Alastair Gilmour

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