Why Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United won’t be broadcast live in the UK

Why Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United won't be broadcast live in the UK

As the football world works through the remainder of the season’s first international break, many fans are already looking forward to the weekend as the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United in the Premier League.

More than a decade after his departure, Ronaldo is back and eligible to make his second United debut as they prepare to face Newcastle at Old Trafford on Saturday.

After becoming the all-time leading scorer in men’s internationals last Wednesday, Ronaldo left the Portugal squad and flew to the UK on Friday. After going through his mandatory five-day quarantine period, Ronaldo will have time to do some training sessions with his new/old club before his next game.

However, sources told ESPN’s Rob Dawson that United still hope the 36-year-old is fit and ready to play a role despite his successful transfer from Juventus at least eight years ago.

The bad news for the Brits is that the Newcastle game will not be televised live there, giving millions of fans the chance to see him play in the No. 7 United shirt for the first time since 2009.

With the weekend’s games due to be broadcast live by selected UK broadcasters over the weekend, it is too late to move the Man United-Newcastle game from its 3pm kick-off time, meaning it will be ‘streamed live in the UK’. cannot be done. For a condition in force in the UK for over 40 years: the “blackout at 3 pm”, as it is now called.

The rule states that no match of any kind, be it the Premier League, the Championship or the Bundesliga or La Liga, shall not be broadcast live on UK TV between 2:45 pm and 5:15 pm on Saturdays can go. The rule originally ruled out the FA Cup final, but since 2012 the showpiece at Wembley has started at 5.15 pm.

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This rule has been in place since the 1960s, when it was originally proposed by Burnley’s president, Bob Lord, who argued that a traditional Saturday 3 pm TV broadcast would negatively affect viewers. In the pyramid of English football – the level of professional play from the highest to non-league amateur matches. Football has been broadcast on British television since 1938, although broadcasting of regular matches did not become a staple of programs until the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Lord was adamant that showing the 3 p.m. kick-off on TV would “harm further” stadium attendance by allowing fans to stay home and watch the game. He even banned BBC cameras from broadcasting live matches on Turf Moor for five years to prevent this from happening. An outspoken opponent of televised football in general, Lord gradually convinced his fellow football league presidents that showing the kick-off at 3 p.m. would deplete their valuable sources of income for matches and would certainly help them play games. was adopted in Nationwide soon thereafter. The rule has been followed since then and is the reason why the final day of the Premier League season is always scheduled on a Sunday, allowing all 10 matches to be held simultaneously at 3 pm.

The broadcast ban was suspended last year as part of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ to allow fans to watch matches played behind doors restricted from use of the stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic , although it has been reinstated for the 2021-22 season as fans return to the Games.

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Although all radio coverage is exempt, this rule extends to all overseas matches broadcast on UK TV, with many channels starting coverage of some Spanish and Italian matches (for example) with the first half of the match. .

What began as an agreement between football league presidents in the 1960s is now part of the UEFA rules, in which Article 48 of the Statute of Europe’s governing body states that any member association can nominate two-and-a-half-and-a-half. Can do. Hourly time slots on Saturdays or Sundays during which television broadcasts of football are prohibited.

In England the rule is observed not to protect attendance in the Premier League, but to other tiers of the English football pyramid – the deepest league system in Europe in terms of participation in matches.

Nor does it necessarily prevent a season pass holder from attending his game in favor of watching a spectacular Premier League game on television from a lower league club. This is to encourage casual fans to keep turnstiles running in smaller clubs, providing much needed attendance and income.

Many of those lower league clubs depend heavily on earnings at 3 p.m. on Saturdays to stay in business.

Of course, there’s no real way to know whether repealing the rule would significantly hurt attendance and revenue and clutter up the entire pyramid without doing so. Fans would probably prefer to stay in the strong wind and rain while watching their local clubs watch their local clubs at 3 p.m. on Saturday, regardless of where Premier League games are shown on TV, but the risk of falling from the bottom to the top of the pyramid is even bigger.

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You might be wondering why other top leagues in Europe and around the world do not follow a similar rule and that is because none of them consider specific kickoff slots. In the entire league system, with the same level of respect, just like English/British football does on Saturdays at 3pm. Even worthy of a broadcast ban.

Under UEFA rules, 50% of matches in the top two divisions must start simultaneously in order for the 2.5-hour broadcast ban to apply. This is the case in England and Scotland (73% and 90%, respectively), while in Germany the figure is only 28%. In Italy it is only 15%, while in Spain there is no simultaneous La Liga kick-off to avoid regrouping.

Saturday afternoons beginning at 3 p.m. have been part of the fabric of English football since the 19th century, as traditional workers across the country exited factories after the morning shift and headed straight to soccer pitches. The reality of the situation is that no other league does this.

So there you have it: Manchester United’s home fans won’t be able to see Ronaldo’s return, because it has its roots in the early days of league football in England, and it’s to protect his future.

ESPN’s Dale Johnson contributed to this report


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