The period of Prohibition in the US was a weird time in World history - it’s almost like the true gap between now and ‘the future’. When the sale, transportation, production and importing of alcohol was banned in the United States after religious and social activism to bleed America dry of vice was brought in in the twenties, we were given a lot when a lot was taken away. We learned about cocktails (the drinks in which we’d hide alcohol), bars (were drinkers would go to hide), bootlegging (illegally made produce) and a lot else. The true lesson of prohibition is this: if you put enough pressure onto something and remove it from society, society will find ways of finding it once more.
England and the UK are going through a weird period of prohibition right now and have done since the Sixties, thanks to Burnley’s old Chairman, Bob Lord. Lord got a bit pissy about lows attendances and convinced the Football League’s head honchos that all these new fangled televised games were killing attendances and thus income.
This entire deal snowballed and all the regulating bodies in English Football - The FA, the EPL and the EFL now do not allow games to be televised between quarter to three and quarter past five on a Saturday Afternoon within the United Kingdom. Hilariously enough, this goes for all football. When Spanish matches and other teams kick off at 5pm, we cut the first fifteen minutes off. That’s a plan that clearly works!
Banning televised football to encourage attendances sounds like an idea that would work - and it should, in theory - but in practice, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, what televised football does - when it’s boxed off like it is - is only allow a stranglehold on the game, by popular clubs. In theory, it’s perfect - but it’s flawed. Football is not the pinnacle of the world and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and if you think banning every single 3pm game is going to fill every stadium in England up, well - you might just be the type of deluded individual who gets into a position of power within football. My theory is as follows: all the television ban has done to football is sanitise it further and make clubs lazy. It has made clubs apathetic to the fan experience (and attracting fans).
The thing is this - football on the TV and football in real life are two different experiences. Football on TV is almost analytical in nature. You can sit back and enjoy the game without bias. Football in the stands and in real life is a different beast. It’s a weird tribalism where you’ll back your team and just get involved. There are people who will only watch it on TV because it suits their needs and there are people who won’t watch footy outside of a stadium, and hey - both of these are more than ok. There will be crossover as well, but for the most part, people will always do what they would prefer to do - and in the most part, that would mean going to the football match.
And those who can’t go? They will find ways to watch. Take a look at AVTV (Aston Villa, by the way, are not to blame at all) for example. If you wanted to watch the game from within the confines of the United Kingdom, you’d need to use a GPS spoofer and VPN apps to gain access (this is common knowledge so fuck off before you sue me) to a paywall. You’d then pay and enjoy your game, theoretically. However, most people are not inclined to use a VPN, so will just parrot and ask for streams and latch onto streamers. The most popular streamer of late has been from Iraq. Baghdad. In Iraq. That Iraq.
So, if you’re following up to this point, this is what we’ve got:
If you are in the UK and want to watch Aston Villa perform in a non-televised game & thus streamed via the AVTV platform, you will need to watch a lad from fucking Baghdad stream it from his TV.
It sounds like a punchline, but it isn’t - that’s the stupid reality. God bless Hassan for taking the time to set up his streams and eventually get told off by Villa, but he shouldn’t have had to do that, because UK citizens should have the option to pay and watch games on the TV. It won’t affect attendances, because it isn’t doing so anyway. If you want to watch a stream of a Premier League game, you can 100% find one. Has this killed popularity or attendances? I don’t think it has. Bournemouth swims in red and black. West Brom are enjoying a hipster-resurgence (for fucks sakes!) Southampton are thriving. Leicester are still doing things. Burnley have become the fighting spirit of the North.
However, when we drop down a league, to the domain of the EFL - we just see stagnation. You get token games, stupid ties drawn up on Friday nights - and it’s not mass televised. Each club has a platform, but then football becomes gridlocked to fans of each of the clubs. It’s like each club has their hands wrapped around their own neck and is kicking the shit out of the next club like that scene in the Battle of the Bastards episode of Game of Thrones when everyone is proper fucked up, covered in mud, stuck together and dead. The three on top fall into the Premier League to carve out their own story amongst the land of the rich and the popular, while the EFL play the Hunger Games with the most historic teams in the country.
Take a look at Blackpool, which has had the fuck kicked out of it by people with ‘it’s best interests at heart’. Nobody cares about the club outside the place anymore and the people in charge of the club don’t seem to care and the people in charge of the people in charge of the club don’t care about the people who don’t care. You can’t see a Blackpool game unless you’re a Blackpool fan shelling out for iFollow and that’s weird. Why would you want to watch a Blackpool game? Well - if you were an overseas fan with a burgeoning interest in the lower ladders of football, you might be interested. Expanding the game to a global audience is a great goal to have, but why the hell are the EFL so focused on not achieving it?
Especially so at a time when the EFL carved the hearts out of two of England’s most historic tournaments - The Checkatrade Trophy which is so bent out of shape it’s not even worth winning to the Carabao Cup, which has a draw at 4.15AM in Beijing that isn’t televised. The draw, the sponsorships - all that shite doesn’t matter. What really matters is how the EFL seem convinced that blowing up everything in the game won’t just spread more and more tumors around English football - especially the lower ladders. Non-league football is relatively safe from all of this - with vibrant cult support. I’m more worried about the teams in the bottom half of the Championship as well as League One and Two. It’s almost funny how much knives are flying into the game at a time when people can’t even watch the game.
So yeah. If you’re a Villa fan who wants to watch your team play and you’re in the UK, you’ll have to wait until someone pops up from Hong Kong, Lebanon, Canada, the US or anywhere else outside of the UK to stream it. That’s stupid.