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The game drains away
The game drains away

Be Careful What You Wish For

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 07/05/2023

THE decision by the EFL to allow more than 1000 games to be broadcast on Sky from 2024-2025 could backfire on the clubs. While nominally raising the income of the 72 clubs concerned, most will receive similar amounts to the rest of the teams in their respective divisions.

The result will be an increase in players' wages. All fans will see for it is better cars in the players' car park. It's great for the games that you don't go to, but the games that you do go to will get harder to attend. 3pm Saturday kick-offs will disappear from many weekends, to be replaced by lunchtime matches. Much harder for fans to get to, and why bother if you can watch it online? The number of fans watching in person, especially away supporters, will slowly dwindle. Once fans start to stop going in person, a trickle could become a torrent.

It might not happen overnight, as many supporters have a long personal tradition of attending games in person, but slowly supporters will drift away. It's not that long ago that we had most of a season without fans. It was awful. Supporters are what makes football a spectacle, without them, it is nothing, even on TV. At Blundell Park, it's always a greater spectacle with a vibrant away end - like the match with Hartlepool recently. Grimsby's away support has been awesome in the last few seasons. This deal could see such scenes slowly disappear from our lives.

It's essential for the long-term future of our sport to get children coming to games and developing an interest. If watching the game online becomes the norm, you might as well support a "big" team. I suspect football has reached or maybe passed its high-tide mark in popularity. Technology could speed up its downfall. No sport is destined to be popular for ever. Country cricket matches were once the lifeblood of the summer, the breeding ground for our test teams. Nobody but the older generation watches them now. In the medium term, the game of cricket is doomed in its original format - even Test Matches could disappear. Cricket killed itself pandering to the armchair supporter. It would be so sad for football to tread the same path.

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