All Guns Blazing: Television is leaving Arsenal fans in the lurch

11:48 04 March 2015

Arsenal and Middlesborough players shake hands whilst being filmed by a Television camera

Arsenal and Middlesborough players shake hands whilst being filmed by a Television camera


In our weekly Arsenal fan’s column, Layth Yousif laments television’s impact on football and looks at upcoming clashes with Manchester United and Monaco.

I wrote before Brighton of the inconvenience of television bosses moving fixtures to suit schedulers rather than fans.

So it wasn’t a complete shock, when we were drawn away to Manchester United at Old Trafford, to realise our game would be moved from Saturday.

But Monday night?

There’s a strategy behind it, relating to viewing figures in important overseas markets – which in itself is instructive. Why? Because it means even domestic television viewers are becoming secondary to non-UK based watchers and advertisers.

No-one’s pining for the days when going to a match was dangerous and uncomfortable. And broadcasters – especially one – have raised the bar in terms of insightful coverage.

But television money is simply staggering these days. I recall as a kid when league football was missing from our screens for part of the 1985/86 season because BBC and ITV were reluctant to pay rights of £10million a year.

With the next deal a single league game will cost Sky and BT £10m.

How much money do clubs need? And how much will fans put up with?

There has to be a point where clubs don’t just freeze ticket prices but lower them. And there has to be a point when television executives must decide what’s important – the atmosphere that full stadiums can provide, or money from advertisers played out to half-empty backdrops with few away fans?

Yet those questions are forgotten as 8,600 Gooners travel to Old Trafford on Monday for arguably our most important game of the season. I don’t need to remind you why our FA Cup quarter-final tie is now so important.

I can handle losing to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and Jupp Heynckes’ team before him – who incidentally put on the best away performance I’ve seen at Ashburton Grove – but Monaco?

I thought their centre-half was superb but generally they were solid and unspectacular – the type of European team we would have brushed aside at Highbury.

I’ve a ticket for the second leg, as have many travelling fans. We may still produce a brilliant result – but ultimately it’ll be the usual second leg heroic failure.

I wonder if the game will be shown on terrestrial television? I doubt it. After all, TV companies aren’t daft. Are they?

Follow me @laythy29


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