Any decision will depend on the next rights cycle in 2024
EFL chair Rick Parry has announced that he is open to ending the 3pm blackout on football broadcasts in England.
A ruling that has been in place since the 1960s, it prohibits live football from being shown in England between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturdays. This is due to the fear that showing top flight football in that time slot would lead to smaller attendances at lower league stadiums.
UEFA allows any country to do this, but only England, Scotland, and Montenegro do so - likely as other nations do not have as well-attended lower-league matches or relatively as many professional teams.
While it has generally been accepted without many issues, some fans were unhappy when it meant that they couldn’t watch Cristiano Ronaldo’s second debut for Manchester United live.
Any change would have to wait until 2024, when the next rights cycles begins. According to reports, the EFL is keen to pair its rights with the Premier League and receive 25% of all revenues raised in an attempt to end the sharp drop in income experienced by teams relegated from the top division. If this was acheived, then it may mean that it would be open to changing the blackout.
Speaking to PA, Parry said: “I don’t see (an end to the blackout) as being essential. Having said that, I don’t necessarily rule it out.
“We are almost unique in Europe now in having a blackout period. I’m not presuming that it goes, but equally, if we’re looking at streaming, at new technologies and new broadcasters, we will probably have to be open-minded in terms of scheduling.
“And I know that at the EFL we will be looking at these things in any event. Our TV deal is up in 2024 and unusually we will be going ahead of the Premier League.
“Already our people are putting a lot of time and effort into studying developments looking at different potential strategies.”
The EFL has its own D2C streaming service, iFollow, which it turned to during the pandemic to air matches while fans were unable to attend. This included 3pm games during lockdowns, but since the start of the current campaign and return of supporters to stadiums the 3pm matches have been removed from the service.