Sup­port­ers fol­low­ing their team’s ups and downs from the com­fort of their liv­ing room aren’t a new phe­nom­e­non. As early as the 1920s, peo­ple gath­ered around their crackly ra­dio sets for live com­men­taries. Early broad­casts were of­ten hard to make out but the lis­ten­ers en­joyed hear­ing the rau­cous cheers of fans and the noisy stamp­ing of feet in the grand­stands. News­pa­pers said that com­men­taries gave “a splen­did idea of the at­mos­phere of a big soc­cer match”.

The first tele­vised match was aired in 1938, of­fer­ing ob­servers “as good a view of the game as would have been gained from the stands”. Clubs soon be­gan to ob­ject, ar­gu­ing that the TV broad­casts would have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on gates. But it seemed un­likely that foot­ball fans in the 1930s would ever choose to stay at home rather than go to the match. One critic said: “No gen­uine foot­ball fan who could by any pos­si­bil­ity reach the ground is likely to pre­fer his arm­chair.”

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