The Football Association will likely lift their broadcast ban on Saturday 3pm kickoffs if coronavirus causes matches to be played behind closed doors.
Currently, the blackout stops any football from being aired between 2:45pm and 5:15pm within the United Kingdom, encouraging fans to attend games in person.
But should any 3pm Premier League or Football League fixtures be played behind closed doors, then the FA could allow them to be screened or streamed online.
Other European countries have already started to ban supporters from attending sporting events, with certain Serie A and now Ligue 1 matches even being postponed.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund will also be played behind closed doors later this week.
It’s a real possibility that the FA could start doing the same, should coronavirus spread further throughout England.
But according to The Times, it wouldn’t all be doom and gloom for fans, with the 3pm blackout being lifted.
However, steps would be taken to potentially block pubs from showing the matches.
A source from the football authorities told the paper:
“It makes sense to remove the blackout but what we don’t want to do is create a new problem by just moving those crowds from the stadiums to the pubs.
“There [is] probably more risk of the virus spreading in packed pubs than in open-air stadia.”
The Times also report that all EFL matches would likely be streamed on the league’s iFollow service, which is usually blocked on a Saturday.
Premier League matches could potentially be screened for free on Sky Sports and BT Sport, but both providers will be asked to block their signal to pubs.
Should coronavirus cause English football to be played behind closed doors, having Saturday 3pm kickoffs airing on TV will certainly go some way to softening the blow for football fans.
But, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
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