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Men's Football Are in-house club channels the future of football?

After Liverpool denied BBC Radio the right to broadcast a Champions League game last week, KADEEM SIMMONDS fears that they may have started a worrying trend

THE rise of in-house Premier League TV channels has allowed us to get “closer” to teams and show us a side to players we haven’t seen before.

While it costs money, it can be seen as an investment for die-hard fans. The ability to watch youth and reserve games can be extremely helpful, not to mention they have radio coverage of every game. So if your team isn’t on television, you can still listen live.

If you’re not a fan but still want to listen/watch a game via a football club’s media channel, there is always the BBC which will provide updates for games as well as full live commentary from games.

However, last week Liverpool decided that their crucial Champions League group tie against Spartak Moscow would not be broadcast on BBC Radio.

Most Premier League teams want to develop and grow their media brands. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when clubs force people to sign up to their product or miss out on the content.

They already conduct “exclusive” interviews with players and managers, forcing fans to purchase the channel in order to report on what is being said.

And over the last few years it has extended to the media. After Saturday games, managers will quite often do a separate press conference for journalists for the Monday papers. This is on the decline, with clubs instead directing journalists to their TV channel for the Monday quotes.

It is extremely disrespectful but the way the industry is going. Part of the reason the print industry is dying is more and more clubs, not just in football, are releasing their own media, be it through Twitter, Facebook or TV channels. 

This cuts out the middleman, in this case the journalists, and negates the need for buying a daily newspaper which will give your club 400 words when you can pay a certain amount of money per month for 24/7 rolling news on the only team you care about?

Liverpool can insist all they want that this isn’t the start of a plan to restrict their European matches to their own channels. But who are they kidding?

What will start of as one or two games a season for free will likely end up as all games for a small fee per month.

Fans already have to pay over the top for BT Sport to watch European matches, since ITV lost the rights a few years ago, and Liverpool’s decision to deny BBC Radio to report on the match could be another nail in the coffin which is the privatisation of football.

While you can argue that those who wanted to listen to the Liverpool match would probably be a fan of the Reds, sometimes a neutral fan will want to tune in as well and wouldn’t have been able to without becoming a subscriber.

The decision also excluded anyone who doesn’t own a laptop/home computer/smartphone or access to the internet. While we can pretend that everyone in 2017 has access to all of the above, the fact remains that some people don’t for different reasons.

It is believed that over a million people were denied the chance to listen to the 7-0 drubbing of Spartak Moscow via the traditional radio service.

It isn’t so much that video killed the radio, the greed of football clubs is doing the same.

It will start with radio and slowly move to television. The Premier League retains the right at the moment, but the powerhouses at the top of the league will continue to demand a move which further lines their pockets with billions of pounds.

The football revolution will be televised, on subscription-based individual club TV channel.

In the NFL, two stories caught my eye over the past week. The first was last Sunday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. Played in a snowstorm, not only did the game go ahead but it was one of the most exciting games the league has seen for the past few years.

Given how quickly London and other parts of Britain shuts down due to a little bit of snow, it was great to see the game go ahead and should be used another clear sign that life still goes on regardless of weather.

On a more serious note, Pittsburgh Steelers paid tribute to linebacker Ryan Shazier on the same day after he suffered a spinal cord injury two weeks.

The injury was so severe that not only are there fears he may never play American Football again, there is serious concern for his long-term health.

He underwent spinal stabilisation surgery last Wednesday, with reports saying that doctors were “controlling and limiting his movement as they wait for the swelling and bruising in his back to subside.”

One of my favourite players in the sport, my thoughts and prayers are with him and I hope for a full recovery.


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