League defends Saturday afternoon TV ban



Football League officials hit back yesterday at a demand by Manchester United's chief executive Peter Kenyon that the three-hour Saturday afternoon television blackout be overturned.

Faced with growing resentment from fans at the lack of traditional 3pm kick-offs this season and the likelihood of many fixtures being given to the clubs to sell on an individual basis within 18 months, Kenyon is keen to see the ban on screening games lifted.

As it stands, no live game can be shown between 2.30pm and 5.30pm and, with the police unwilling to sanction evening matches on a weekend and the Champions League programme cramping the fixture list further, a huge proportion of United matches have been scheduled for Saturday lunchtimes. The next is at home to Liverpool this weekend.

United have been nominated for live coverage in the Premiership 16 times this season and Kenyon wants the issue to be raised during negotiations for the next domestic Premier League contract, to run from the start of 2004-05.

But the Football League's head of communications John Nagle said such a move would have a disastrous effect on attendances below Premier League level. "Anyone with a wider perspective and the best interests of the whole game at heart would have to realise that the Saturday afternoon blackout is sacrosanct.

"Showing the most popular sides in the country live on television on Saturday afternoons could have a disastrous effect on attendances in the rest of the Premier League, the Football League and non- league, with the economic consequences obvious. It could also have negative effects on participation levels in Saturday leagues across the country."

The Georgia striker Temuri Ketsbaia, whose last-minute goal helped Newcastle United reach the Champions League group stage for the first time in 1997, has retired from international football. The 35-year-old Ketsbaia quit after Georgia lost to Ireland 2-1 on Saturday. He scored 16 goals in 49 internationals and is the country's joint top scorer with Rangers' striker Shota Arveladze.


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Jan 1, 2000
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Of course, when it suits them, the FA sanctions home international matches on Saturday afternoons. Obviously there are no premiership games on but the lower leagues have to play at the same time.