LONDON: The Football Supporters’ Federation is against televising more top-flight matches and especially any 3pm kick-offs, says its chairman Malcolm Clarke.
His comment followed confirmation that the ‘watchdog’ Ofcom is to investigate the selling of Premier League TV rights in the UK after a complaint by Virgin Media.
At stake could be the Europe-wide convention by which live games cannot be shown in England between 14:45 GMT and 17:15 GMT.
Clarke said: “It’s very important to retain the 3pm window and we’d have major reservations about a further significant increase in televised football.”
The price for the current TV rights deal spanning 2013-16 is worth £3bn and is shared by BSkyB and BT.
The Premier League will soon start the bidding process for the next set of rights but Virgin is unhappy with the current “collective selling” arrangements.
Virgin has argued that fewer games are available for live viewing in the UK than other countries, although Clarke believes more games on television will have a detrimental effect on the game in the UK and provide little benefit for fans.
“Most fans think we’ve probably reached television saturation point and it’s not in the game’s interests to increase the number even further,” said Clarke.
“A 3pm kick-off on Saturday is part of the tradition of English football. We’ve lost some of that with the number of games that are now being moved, which many fans are unhappy about.
“But if it goes a step further so that you have got live television games up against the normal 3pm kick-off, it could have a very adverse effect on gates lower down the leagues and we would be opposed to that.”
Part of Ofcom’s investigation will see it consult the FSF and other supporters’ groups.
Clarke added: “We’ve seen no evidence so far that increased media rights benefit the ordinary fan, either sitting at home watching a game on television or going to the matches.
“It has benefitted owners, highly paid executives, players and agents but not us.”