By Matt Badcock
The revolution will not be televised – but it may well be streamed live on the internet.
Technology has, and is, changing the way we consume everything in our daily lives, especially sport and football.
During the World Cup, there were times when I was on a packed train carriage chugging through the countryside while watching a live game beamed directly to my, increasingly overheating, mobile device.
Time stands still for no-one, as they say. We’ve come a long way from those small transistor radios people used to hold up to their ears at games waiting for information from another game that would have an impact on your own club’s fate. Long before twitter provided instant updates, it was more of a waiting game. Hoping for word to creep through from another ground that would then spread like a wildfire around a stadium as more supporters got wind of the situation.
A few years ago when Farnborough were battling with Nuneaton Town for the Southern Premier, a rumour went around Cherrywood Road. Nuneaton were losing and, as it stood, Farnborough would be lifting the title that afternoon. Unfortunately for the home support it was an early case of fake news and the bubbly was back in the fridge, for a few more days at least. Social media has moved us on and now live info is easily at the fingertips of even the most phobic of technophobes.
In the coming years the way people watch football on TV or their phones will continue to evolve. Sky Sports and BT Sport have new kids on the block desperate to take their exclusive rights off their hands.
Amazon Prime – who paid £10m to Manchester City for the total access as seen in the All or Nothing eight-part documentary – want in, as do facebook and in recent years twitter has live streamed NFL games. Football must be on their radar too.
There has never been more football on television in this country and still the battle wages to bring even more direct to your sofa (or train carriage). The EFL have this season introduced access to every midweek game live through their iFollow platform.
Introducing ElevenSports – an upstart online streaming company that recently bagged the US PGA golf major and have snared live Spanish and Italian football in this country.
A fortnight ago, the company released a statement explaining why they wouldn’t be able to show the first 15 minutes of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus debut.
FA rules, they grumbled, were preventing them from showing the 5pm kick-off.
As many will be aware, this country has a blackout where live football can’t be shown between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on a Saturday.
The idea, apparently conjured up in the 1960s, is a simple one that is designed to keep lower league crowds healthy and, therefore, help the game and the FA go by a UEFA?statute that allows prohibition of broadcasting at certain times.
At first it seemed a worrying oversight from ElevenSports, but subsequent reports suggest they were well aware of the ban and, up until the last minute, were weighing up whether to defy it.
Instead they say they will fight the rule, arguing in this world of on-demand football that it is outdated. Let’s not kid ourselves, those that know how they will watch it anyway. Plenty of people are logging onto illegal streams of 3pm Saturday matches, taking advantage of the coverage in other countries, who are not signed up to the blackout.
ElevenSports may want dialogue with football authorities about the issue but it should be a very brief conversation. It has to stand to help clubs, particularly in Non-League. This level of the game contends with enough midweek football as it is, regularly going up against big Champions League games that keeps the floating fans and their vital pennies away.
While some of us may struggle to understand why people don’t go out to watch a game, it is a reality that the majority of football fandom starts at home.
But football shouldn’t just be viewed through a screen.
The real joy of football comes from going to games, hearing the sounds of the ball skidding across the grass, the rustling of the net, the smell of the food and the changing rooms. And seeing the action live in front of our own eyes.
It’s a question on the lips of nearly every chairman in Non-League – where can we save money?
But at Northern Premier League club Marine they’ve also been wondering how they can save water!
Chairman Paul Leary commissioned a review of more than 30 taps in their washrooms which showed the flow of water in the male washrooms was eight litres per minute and even higher in the female washrooms.
The club worked out, based on an average of 400 fans each week, there are 16,000 hand washes every season, which equates to 128,000 litres of water.
So the club have installed water-saving measures into its taps and forecast they will save 101,000 litres per year.
Leary said: “We’re very aware of the importance of water and the need to use it responsibly. As a community club, we want to lead by example in respecting our natural resources and looking at our back-of-house operations is key to achieving this. Many of our supporters are families and we are keen to do the right thing to protect our environment for future generations.”
Hopefully it can also help save some cash too at a level where every penny counts.
We’ve got a Fantasy Football league going at NLP Towers. If there was a National League version then everybody would surely want AFC?Fylde’s Danny Rowe in their team.
His two goals against Dover took his season tally to five in five games. Surely Dave Challinor’s best bit of summer business has been keeping hold of the striker?
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday