Let me start by saying that I knew relegation would pose these hard challenges for watching the team I love, but the frustration for me got to an all time high this Saturday because the FA Cup match was not televised.
Instead, I listened to the Fulham match on the FulhamFC.com app on my iPad, and even though Gentleman Jim and former player Sean Davis did a wonderful job of painting the picture, I still missed the ability to watch the match live.
I was brought back to a time before sporting events were shown on television. My father has talked glowingly of listening to the Boston Red Sox in the 1950's on the radio, and how wonderful an experience it was for him. Well, we have the technology now to really watch almost any professional sporting event you can think of. So why can't all the Fulham matches be shown live?
There is a standard reason that I do not think will change anytime soon, but I know the reason before you want to shout, "I know why". The reason goes back for years to protect the English football clubs to get the supporters to go to the matches, instead of simply watching it on television or online. There are a selected amount of Sky Bet Championship and FA Cup matches shown by television providers, but the majority of them are not shown live.
I do understand the reason, and certainly do not want to see any football club have financial difficulty, but what if there was a happy medium? We have home television blackouts here in the U.S. for the NFL, for when a home team does not sell out the game. So, why not have a blackout for the home team if they do not sell a certain percentage of tickets in their stadium, but make it available to the rest of the world outside a certain mile radius from the Stadium?
Also, what if there was a benefit to all the clubs in the Championship to broadcast all of the matches on a subscription basis online? In years past, I paid for FoxSoccer2go, which gave me online access to almost every Fulham match in the Barclays Premier League. I used to pay $19.99 a month to watch Fulham live. The rights the last two seasons for the EPL have been with NBC Sports here in the U.S., and every match is available for you to watch either on your television, mobile device or online with most providers. If you had a paid subscription to watch the Sky Bet Championship matches, why couldn't a good amount of money be shared by all 24 teams? They would now have more money coming in to potentially off-set the potential loss of money at the gate.
I keep hearing how popular the Sky Bet Championship is in Europe, so why not try to capitalize on this situation by broadcasting all of these matches online for fans around the world? Fulham are a global team now, and this situation seems unfair to many fans that are frustrated that they cannot watch their club live.
To the credit of Fulham Football Club, they do the best they can with the rules for broadcasting the matches. They release a two minute highlight package, and usually a full replay the next day. I am so glad they do this and it is free. Just so you know, several other clubs charge for some of their content. Fulham supporters are lucky that they do not have to pay for this content, and they do a real good job with these videos of the matches on their website.
When I first became a Fulham supporter, I did have similar challenges, and listened to the radio broadcast, but with the technology truly there now, I feel there is a lost opportunity for everyone to benefit. The clubs could potentially get more money coming in by charging for an online subscription of all of the matches, and the fans obviously would be able to see the matches live. Like I stated you could have blackout restrictions to potentially offset the potential loss of fans going to the matches in person. I think this would be a win for the club and the supporters, but unfortunately I do not seeing this happening anytime soon because of this long standing belief that teams could seriously be affected financially if all the matches were broad-casted live.
I can make the argument that the Sky Bet Championship could grow in popularity, if all the matches were broad-casted live as new fans could come along to see just how interesting and competitive this league has shown itself to be. I have enjoyed the matches I have watched as this league is so even, and any club can beat the other club. Why not show it off on a global scale?
In the meantime, I will watch my club the next day, and continue to be very appreciative that Fulham Football Club offer a replay of their matches. Maybe someday someone will have the vision to say it is time to broadcast the Sky Bet Championship matches to everyone.