Time to scrap the 3pm rule banner

The 3PM blackout was a rule introduced back in 1960’s. This rule states that on Saturdays that games shouldn’t be televised in the UK. The rule was put in place when Burnley FC chairman Bob Lord believed that these ‘televised games would have impact negatively on his side’s attendances and therefore reduce their financial earnings.’ Since then, games that started at 3PM have not been televised excluding the FA Cup Final which starts at 2:45.

There is potential argument that could take place to discuss if this rule should be scrapped. This topic has come around recently due to the pandemic when every single game was shown on TV as fans were banned from going to all matches and this is the first time Premier League games have been shown at 3PM which has brought up the topic if the blackout should be scrapped.

With Premier League teams having huge fanbase there is unlikely to be a drop in attendance if 3pm games are shown on TV. Just like it is with the other games which are shown throughout the week at different times.

However there some hesitancy towards this rule being scrapped when it comes to teams in the lower Leagues such as League 1 and League 2 as most of the teams don’t have massive fan bases and if the games were shown on TV, it would hurt the team’s revenue as they believe they won’t sell as many tickets. To counter react this potential obstacle there are two things the EFL could do to make sure the blackout is scrapped.

One way to counter react the obstacle is that the EFL could negotiate with teams about scrapping the black out. This is giving a chance for certain teams who have concerns to not participate but it doesn’t stop the other teams from showing games at 3PM. This would be a chance of easing the black out and not scrapping it entirely. But also, it gave a chance to see what happened to attendance of these teams who show their game and evaluate their decision to show their games the following season which could lead to the 3pm blackout being scrapped entirely.

Another way is what IFollow did last year during the pandemic. The first 500 passes sold from IFollow to the away team would be distributed to the team that was playing at home to make sure there was no huge impact on theire revenue gained from tickets sold. This opportunity allows EFL clubs not lose profit as well as open a new way to increase their revenue through matchday viewings.

Like with IFollow, Amazon Prime is also a streaming service which have entered the mix of channels of showing football game in England. There is a chance that Amazon prime or streaming services could be only channels that show the games show at 3PM as they are streaming platform, and the rule was intended for traditional TV.

Despite all the opportunities to scrap the blackout without hurting a club supporters and shareholders are still hesitant for change to happen. However, any major change will only happen right before the 2023-2024 football season. So, the EFL have the chance to change people’s mind and maybe prove that scrapping the 3PM black out will be great for the clubs and the industry. They possibly could use the argument how other countries like in Spain in France don’t have a similar rule and their finances are pretty stable excluding Barcelona at the moment.