Mails: Can’t watch Liverpool? Go to Tranmere

Daniel Storey

A very good set of Mails, good work; see what happens when we don’t all just talk about Wayne Rooney? Now keep the variety coming to…


How to watch football
Paul M (First World Problems) LFC asks how, in 2016, he can just watch the sodding football, and describes the Saturday 3pm media blackout as one of the most antiquated ideas in sport.

Well Paul, the reason for the Saturday 3pm media blackout is the fact that without it, all the teams outside of the moneyed Premier Leauge elite would suddenly find themselves competing against Sky TV for the attention of fans at that time. Given the absolute pittance that trickles down to the lower leagues from the megabucks Premier League TV deals, these clubs are largely dependent on gate receipts to continue to exist.

So, I would say that given you live about 5 miles from Anfield, here are some nice easy options to enable you to “just watch the football”

1) Southport FC (National League)
2) Tranmere Rovers (National League)
3) Marine (Northern Premier League Premier Division)
4) Prescot Cables (Northern Premier League Division One North)

That’s before you get to level 9 of the football pyramid for clubs such as AFC Liverpool, Bootle, Cammell Laird… or teams a little further afield such as Blackpool in League Two.

Even better news – these clubs are all playing football during the international break, too. I’m sure any of these (and indeed any other lower league / non-league side) would always be glad of another football fan cheering them on (and buying a ticket, a program and a pie)…

Of course, if by “football” you only mean watching a privileged elite of millionaires and forgetting about everything else, then you hit the nail on the head in your own mail – First World Problems it is.
Terry Hall, Switzerland


…Paul M, I assume you are one of the “football was born in 1992” generation, but believe it or not, the premier league is not the only league in England.

It is difficult enough in this day and age for small teams to get enough people through the door to survive, without competing with live matches shown at 3pm Saturday.

I work with a Liverpool fan who thinks that football begins and ends in Merseyside yet has never been to a live game. Luckily i also work with a whole host of other fans, from Bath City and Torquay, to Newcastle, Bristol City, Saints, Brighton, Arsenal and Chelsea. We all go to games together, and live football, at any level, beats watching on the tele.

Our Liverpool fan tries to mock us for going to Bath on a Tuesday night when there is Premiership on or Champions League, but we all feel sorry for him. Real football with mates and a few beers and a sing song is so much better. Can’t afford to go watch Liverpool, go watch Tranmere, they are likely to get promoted this year too.
Paul S


…In response to Paul Rhodes email, I completely agree, but all is not lost.

The Champions League bores me – I don’t watch it.

The hype, money and over exposure of the English League is tedious – I wait excitedly on a Saturday night for MOTD and before the end of the first game I’ve usually changed the channel.

Scottish football is dross – despite my beloved Hibs winning the Scottish Cup.

My answer? Support your local team.

The last few seasons I followed Linlithgow Rose (a Scottish junior team) through their epic Scottish Cup runs. I’ve seen them more than hold their own against Scottish Championship Raith Rovers and also roar back from 3-1 down v Forfar to earn a replay. We even made Sky Sports News due to setting off flares at Station Park and then floodlight failure causing the replay to be replayed!

In the league I’ve seen the biggest derby in Scottish football (lolz), Linlithgow Rose V Bo’ness! Its some atmosphere I’ll tell you. Best part is you rip your fellow fans for 90 minutes (no segregation) and then go for a pint afterwards.

A season ticket is more than affordable. If like me and you go when you can then its about £5 a ticket. £10 was probably the most expensive I paid on the cup run. Plus the food they sell at these games is cheap and usually sourced from a local bakery so actually pretty decent.

Sense of community is the whole point of football clubs I always thought. The Rose are always doing something in the town and involved in grass roots football. A few of the players I even went to school so it is instantly more relatable.

Bored of football? – follow your local lower league/non-league/junior/highland team.


… Last weekend was Non-League Day. A celebration of all things non-glitzy. Money was raised for charity, 2 ‘keepers scored from their own half, Nicky Shorey nearly played for Hungerford, Dulwich Hamlet played in pink. So, to Wednesday – and another mail bemoaning not being able to watch The Premier League on TV if your team kicks off at 3pm on a Saturday.

Other than my slight confusion over why the year being 2016 has anything at all to do with the Saturday TV shut out, I would suggest the following:

1 – You are the cause of your own problem. Since you live locally to Anfield, and wish to watch the game I assume you don’t go to the game due to either ticket cost or ticket availability. Since Sky and The Premier League launched their hegemony to overpower all who stand before them, the game has become global. The TV money and exposure means clubs like Liverpool have no vested interest in making attending a match possible or affordable for local fans. Your solution of having more Sky is not going to help.

2 – On behalf of the fans of lower league clubs – do you not think enough has been done to screw us over already? EPPP, the EFL trophy, free grounds to big clubs…nah, let’s make it even harder for them. All the best empires are built on sand after all.

3 – Go to a game. If you want to watch football at 3pm on a Saturday, go to a game. Any game. Football is brilliant.

I won’t suggest option h) – I genuinely do have a lot of sympathy for fans of the big clubs who are priced out of going to games, especially since the European games were also lost from terrestrial TV, but screwing over more fans is not the solution for the fans already screwed.
Jeremy (Seriously, go to a game. Tranmere have a better left-back than you.) Aves


These Mailers agree with the point, though
In response to Paul M from this morning’s mailbox, fully agree about the out dated 3pm blackout. Living in Ireland we get a live match at 3pm. Used to be from Setanta but now Sky have bought those batch of games so this season it’s on Sky Sports 5 I think.

As you say, people all over the world can legally watch these matches. Indeed in many countries every Premier league game is shown live. The rational for not showing live football at 3pm in England, that it will affect attendances at other (presumably lower league) games, doesn’t hold water. Fans want to see live football when possible.

Are fans of Championship or League 1 or 2 teams going to decide not to go support their team that Saturday because Sky are showing West Brom vs Middlesboro? Very much doubt it. Or one of the bigger supported teams, Utd or Liverpool or whoever? Those games being on TV wont stop anyone going to a live match.

Supporting Man Utd, quite often when I travel over to see a match that game will actually be on tv as the majority of our games are. Yet, even if the game is televised, there will be just as many people making the crossing by boat or plane to see the game live. I’m sure it’s the same for fans coming from other countries.

So if a game on TV doesn’t stop fans travelling long distances to the matches why do the powers that be think it will stop more local fans from either going to that televised game or going to another non televised game that kicks off at the same time?

As you say that sort of thing only encourages people to seek out illegal means of watching the games. Matches don’t all kick off at 3pm now. That’s the reality. Premier league games now run from Friday through Monday, covering about 7 different kick off times. Plus you now get live football from leagues in Holland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the US, China and South America.

There’s football on the whole time if you want to watch it. If the powers that be are worried about attendances (I’m not aware that they’ve dropped off) then stopping games being shown for 2 hours on a Saturday really isn’t going to make any difference, other than to direct fans towards illegal, non (domestic) revenue generating sources, which is worse for them in the long term
Gav, Ireland


… Totally agree with Paul M on watching football on tv – the hassle has often lead me not to bother (massive first world rant incoming…) Competition has actually made things worse for the consumer. I lived in the US for a while, and was able to catch all the ‘big’ matches live, as well as a lot of others from around the world on a standard Dish tv package, presumably because less companies care over there about who is broadcasting what soccer match.

Even more annoying is that the US actually has pretty good coverage of their own sports! You get a decent amount of NBA/NFL etc. matches on terrestrial tv over there, a lot more on a standard Dish package (often with a focus on your location and local teams), and pay-per-view ‘league pass’ options that give you everything (I believe). Those leagues are hugely popular, but the coverage is still very convenient and pretty generous overall. Regardless of your viewing habits you’ll likely find something that works for you.

Over here BT taking FA Cup/Champions League matches and various other bits and bobs (I don’t actually have it, hence the frustration) leaves the consumer either having to spend more to get what they want, or doing without. Limited supply leads to the customer spending more now to get what they want or previously had, as presumably the cost of Sky/BT/terrestrial is not cheaper now than when you could watch them all on terrestrial/Sky. Obviously BT is cheaper/free if you have their internet or whatever, but again, very inconvenient if you don’t, and it shouldn’t factor in.

More annoying is that no option is sensible alone. Either you get it all or you’re left wanting to some degree. Fans will differ on their watching priorities, but I’d guess a few popular options would be a) Premier League focus with big games from other competitions B) Wider selection of big games from big leagues and competitions c) Domestic focus (so they can follow their team). I can’t imagine a fan that’s only interested in the FA cup/Champions League and random Premier League action, or vice versa. I don’t ever remember not being able to watch a match in any league that I wanted to in the US because I didn’t have it – either my package covered it, or if it didn’t, it likely wasn’t a match I was interested in.

First world rant over… not sure why it annoys me so much, but there we are. At least I don’t have to deal with Richard Keys and Andy Gray any more.
Mark, Warwickshire


… I have to agree with Paul M that football is somewhat antiquated in its approach to the showing of live games. I’m a big baseball fan and I’ll use MLB’s approach as the counter example.

At the start of the season I was able to buy a subscription to MLB.TV which gives me access to all 2,430 regular season games for $110, or around £80. I can choose to have the home or away broadcast of each game, it is supported on over 400 devices including my phone and PS4, and runs in HD quality at 60 frames per second. Even better is that when the broadcast goes to a commercial break it cuts to a placeholder screen. If I’ve missed the game I can re-watch at any time and jump to any of the numerous highlighted points. For example, I could go back to a game in April and every hit, home run and strikeout would be marked to make it easier to find.

If you are in a region close to where the ballgame is taking place then you can’t watch it. So if I was in San Francisco I wouldn’t be able to watch the Giants game as Fox or whoever would be broadcasting it to that region. As far as I’m aware attendances at games aren’t effected by TV broadcasts and people will still happily pay anywhere between $10 – $150 to go to the game for the true experience.

Now I realise that baseball and football are very different, and I’m sure the huge cost of the TV deals that are in place would prevent anything close to this but surely some efforts can be made, even if just to allow fans to watch the full live game after the event. This should hopefully mean there is no impact on attendances in non-league etc. and gives fans the freedom to pull all manner of Likely Lads escapades in their efforts to avoid the result.

In the meantime I think NOW TV is a good step towards this where this coming Saturday I will be purchasing a one week pass for Sky Sports. For £11 I will get all the sports channels for the week so can watch Utd v City, Swansea v Chelsea, the NFL games, Sunderland v Everton, and Chelsea v Liverpool (although annoyingly this does clash with Sampdoria v Milan over on BT Sport). I’m sure there’s also plenty more sport on there should I choose. Again, I can stream this via PS4 or watch on tablet, phone etc.
David, Nottingham


Televised 3pm football wouldn’t stop people attending games
Paul M’s mail this morning makes the point that I know most of my twenty-something friends have all expressed from time to time. We live in the 21st century and can watch 24 different live streams/channels of the Olympics. Netflix, Amazon Prime etc means we can watch what we want when we want it. Football should be no different.

Historically, the FA and the Premier League have had a ringfence around the 3pm kick-offs to ensure attendances stay high. This argument makes no sense at a time when we have Friday night, Saturday lunchtime, Saturday evening, two Sunday games and Monday night games televised. Sometimes the Premier League only has four 3pm kick-offs.

The fact is that most people don’t go the game for a better viewing experience. Football is a day out, the atmosphere building, a pint and a burger. Watching on TV at home you have a better view, 12 replays and £100 extra in the bank.

Now that the various TV deals have exhausted all the other avenues to get more Premier League games on TV it is time for the next logical step. A switch to allow 3pm kick-offs to be televised would mean that 7-8 games a week could be at 3pm on the red button. Sunday can be reduced down to just the 3pm game. This means fewer scheduling issues for teams playing in Europe and it also means that football doesn’t fill the entire weekend. I know my mother and my girlfriend would appreciate not having to plan social events around the fixture list.

The great thing is we as fans can’t lose in this scenario. If attendances fall then ticket prices would surely follow. If they don’t then at least we can watch the game at home or in the pub.
Mark, Slough


Footballers in restaurants
After Liverpool played Chelsea in 2013 when Rafa returned as Chelsea manager and Suarez bit Ivanovic, I saw the rest of Liverpool’s Spanish/Italian contingent eating together at Gaucho’s in Manchester, around 0.3 miles from Wings. Suarez was, of course, not present.

…and that’s pretty much all I have to say about that.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


A mail on Hampton & Richmond
Not normally a mailbox contributor but as its a slow week thought I may as well mention my new non-league team, Hampton & Richmond Borough.

I went to see my first Hampton game at the start of the season with a mate who lives a couple of minutes from the ground, and as they’ve played away games near me twice since then I’ve actually ended up seeing more of them than my Spurs this season as they’ve gone top of the National League South, scoring more goals than every non league team bar one.

I’ve never been one to subscribe to all this ‘Sky and Premier League are evil monsters ruining the game, lower league football is for real fans’ rhetoric, so I’ve never attended a non league game before, but I have to say it’s been a hell of a lot of fun. In my 3 games I’ve seen 14 goals (9 for Hampton) 1 penalty missed, 1 scored, a red card and some surprisingly good football. In Jamal Lowe Hampton have an electric wide forward in the style of Eden Hazard who has been attracting interest from a couple of football league clubs and who will surely go on to bigger things – just remember you heard his name here first.

All this is not to say that I’d swap Champions League nights at Wembley for an FA trophy replay at the Beveree any time soon, but at least I’ll know where to go next time international week rolls around.
Red (should probably get back to work now) Watford


Player of the week nomination
Honorable mention for Player of the Week

Daryl Murphy rescued a point for Ireland on Monday against Serbia when he scored his international goal- 9 whole years after making his debut.

Now he did only come on a sub in the latter 30 minutes of the game but you still feel good for the big man.
Alan in Spain.


Fan mail for Storey that makes us sick
“The most alluring footballers, those on our team who we truly fall in love with, are those who possess the talent, but don’t always leave it on show. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are worshipped (in a very modern way), but their magnificence is predictable. True joy is saved for the moments in which that spark of greatness finally catches fire and leaves you silent, amazed and enthralled. “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand,” as Neil Armstrong once said. He was almost certainly talking about Riquelme.

Has there ever been a better paragraph written on any football site? At this stage of the portrait of an icon series we can add Daniel Storey to the list of people who’s magnificence is predictable.
Peter, Glasgow


And some hate, for balance
No, more like poor trait of an icon. Riquelme to me isn’t an icon. First of all he was lazy, and had a very poor attitude. His lack of ambition is also something that you can’t equate with proper icons of world football.

On this occasion, Daniel Storey was just giving us stories, and I found his fawning over Riquelme embarrassing to say the least. Be a Proper Football Man and give us true icons, not flawed characters who didn’t achieve much in their career despite their talent.

If you continue this trend, I can see the future headline: Balotelli, Portrait of an Icon.
Keg Baridi ( Iconoclast) Nairobi, Kenya


… Juan Riquelme was just a hipsters Jan Molby.
Dom, Chesterfield


Some naughty banter
I just really hope that WCQ group ends up like


We can only hope.
Pat, Dublin