SPFL Enters Virtual Reality
Much has been made of the strain that clubs big and small are currently under and the longer the hiatus continues, or fixtures are subsequently played behind closed doors, the greater impact it will have across the whole footballing nation.
While although the smaller teams in the SPFL ladder live on a month to month existence and an existence that is propped up by their humble amount of followers, it is arguably the outfits at the top of the pyramid that are feeling the heavier strain.
Therefore, the announcement of a deal between the SPFL and Sky Sports, is one that has been universally well received by clubs competing in next season’s Premiership - whether that number is 12 or 14, is still to be agreed.
That’s because, although a new five-year deal gets underway at the start of the 2020/21 season, it only covers a maximum of 48 matches and with so many still left untelevised, it offered the perfect opportunity to claw back the loss of upcoming matchday revenue.
An opportunity that comes in the form of a virtual season ticket and one that allows supporters of all the top flight clubs, to view any remaining home game that has not already been listed for existing television coverage.
This announcement will not only provide a huge boost to supporters who were fearing a shut out at the start of the next Premiership campaign, but also club chairman who can breathe just that little bit easier.
There is one small caveat in this announcement and the streamed content will only be available to season ticket holders. However, the prospect of being able to watch your team from the comfort of your own home, will now certainly accelerate any purchases of this kind.
Of course, it does not necessarily solve the issues in the other three tiers of the Scottish league setup. Although with that said, there is every chance those competitions may have to be mothballed or at least shortened, to protect long-term survival across the board.
In such a state of uncertainty, now is the time for pragmatic solutions and although reconstruction talks have once again stalled, the SPFL will at least be able to take credit for this and Sky Sports should also be commended for their flexibility.
It would be very easy to protect a new television deal that has only been inked and especially when the UK media giant is paying £160m over five years, for the privilege to show the likes of Edsonne Oduard or Alfredo Morelos in combat.
While if this concept is a success, it will garner the attention of bigger leagues across Europe and although it may be a temporary fix for now, there is no reason that football clubs could subsequently enter a state of virtual reality.
If a similar model to the NFL was implemented and rules such as, a game would have to be sold out first and more importantly not already scheduled for coverage in that domestic market, it could then be sold as a ticket from the comfort of your own home.
The thought of being able to purchase a season pass is one that is often mooted and for many, it will only be the natural progression in terms of football coverage. It seems like progress is already being made in Scotland, but what other nations will also tread such a televisual trailblazing path?
Written by Dan Tracey
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