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Opinion

Broadcasters force Newcastle fans to watch illegal streams of games – Ironic after piracy stopped takeover

4 weeks ago
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Newcastle fans have seen their hopes crumble over the days, weeks and months.

These past four or five months, the thought of a takeover the only think keeping most Newcastle fans going, that finally we would see the end to 13 years (and counting) of Mike Ashley rule.

Impossible to imagine…but these three weeks since the Saudi PIF financed bid said they were pulling out, has been even messier than the 17 weeks of waiting for the Premier League approval to come. Knowing exactly what you can and can’t believe is all but impossible.

However, at the heart of the stand-off between the Premier League and the Saudi PIF bidders, was TV piracy.

The Premier League insisting that the Saudi state had to be seen as the prospective ultimate owner / controller of Newcastle United, rather than the Saudi PIF as an independent entity.

That Catch 22 tactic meaning that if the bidders then accepted the Saudi state as set to be the controller of NUFC, the bid could then be reportedly turned down by the Premier League because a link could be established with TV piracy and the (Saudi state) bid, something which wouldn’t be the case if the Saudi PIF accepted as a separate entity.

How incredibly ironic then, that on Thursday we have seen the Premier League forcing Newcastle fans to turn to TV piracy if they want to watch their team play this season.

You really couldn’t make it up.

Thursday brought news of games to be shown on live TV in the UK this coming 2020/21 Premier League season.

Last season, the agreement was for 200 of the 380 Premier League matches to be shown on live TV in the UK/

The three year agreement (2019-2022) meaning that Sky Sports would  show 128 games, 52 on BT Sport and 20 on Amazon Prime.

The virus impact changed all of that of course and instead far more games were shown, as every single one after the Premier League restart in June was shown on live TV. To show good faith, Premier League and the contracted broadcasters even allowed four to be shown by the BBC on free to air, as well as some on Sky Sports free to air channel, Sky Pick.

That good faith has come very quickly to an abrupt halt though.

Which of the early Premier League matches will be shown on live TV in the UK will be revealed next week, however, in the meantime the Premier League and broadcasters have announced how many of this season’s PL matches will be shown on live TV in the UK in 2020/21.

Instead of the 200 of 380 the contract dictates, there will be a rise to 220 out of 380 shown live.

This split is 140 shown on Sky Sports, 58 on BT Sport and 22 on Amazon Prime.

However, The Mail have revealed that the broadcasters moved to block a number of Premier League clubs who had asked permission to legally stream matches not chosen by broadcasters, on their websites using the iFollow service developed by the EFL, in the hope of raising additional revenue via subscriptions.

Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime coming together to block this initiative, as they feel it would dilute their audiences for the live TV games they choose to show in the UK.

It is a classic, so after TV piracy stopped a takeover happening, the only way Newcastle fans (and those of the other PL clubs) will be able to watch every one of their matches is…by watching illegal streams of games. This situation is especially important because as things stand, no fans are allowed into stadiums, so the only way to watch you team ‘live’ is via TV.

Even more ironically, this will include many Newcastle fans watching games via beIN Sports!

As always of course, this move by the Premier League and broadcasters will affect the fans of some clubs more than others.

The likes of the ‘big six’ will see their fans relatively unaffected, they as usual will have far more of their games shown live on UK TV than others. Plus of course, these clubs will be chosen far more in the domestic cups, as well as every Champions League and Europa League game shown on live TV.

Contrast this with the likes of West Brom, Fulham, Brighton and others, how often will they be able to see their teams play on live TV unless turning to illegal streams?

Plus, there are so few rounds of Premier League games in the opening months, due to the ridiculous schedule to accommodate a laughable number of international matches.

Before 21 November 2020, there will be only eight rounds of Premier League matches, so fans of certain clubs might only see their team picked for one, two, three matches. Yet England have an incredible seven games in that period and fans of Fulham, Brighton, West Brom (and everyone else) will be able to watch all seven on live TV.

Newcastle fans (like with so many things) find themselves in a strange position. No matter how rubbish the team is, or how bad the football is to watch, Newcastle United are always picked far more times for live TV than the football deserves, very rarely is any club outside the ‘big six’ shown more than NUFC, simply because of the number of paying customers Newcastle fans provide. Indeed, after Newcastle’s last (2016/17) Championship season, the absence of NUFC was provided as a major reason for the drop in Premier League live TV audiences in official reports.

However, despite NUFC being set to be selected more than most when the official live TV games for 2020/21 are announced. Like many of you, I will be forced into searching for the best illegal stream to watch many of Newcastle’s Premier League games this coming season.

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