Clubs fear Hearts and Dundee live TV blow

Scottish Daily Mail - - CORONAVIRU­S CRISIS - By EWING GRAHAME STEPHEN McGOWAN IS AWAY

CHAM­PI­ONSHIP clubs fear the BBC are set to con­cen­trate their live cov­er­age on Hearts and Dundee this sea­son — deny­ing them vi­tal stream­ing in­come when the league’s two best-sup­ported teams visit their grounds. The sec­ond tier kicks off on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 16, with BBC cov­er­age of the game be­tween Hearts and Dundee at Tynecas­tle.

The Gorgie men’s trip to Ar­broath seven days later will be the sec­ond match to be shown live. If that pat­tern is fol­lowed while matches are played be­hind closed doors, ri­val clubs are anx­ious the free-to-air cov­er­age will lose them sig­nif­i­cant sums of money when they need it most dur­ing the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

‘It’s dis­ap­point­ing,’ said Ar­broath chair­man Mike Caird. ‘The BBC have been great in re­cent years when it comes to the Cham­pi­onship and, in nor­mal cir­cum­stances, it would be great to wel­come them here for a big game like this. Un­for­tu­nately, hav­ing them this sea­son is a dou­ble whammy. Like most clubs, due to sup­port­ers not be­ing al­lowed in, we’ve set up a live stream­ing fa­cil­ity at a con­sid­er­able cost.

‘This is our first home game and, while we knew we would lose at­ten­dance money, we hoped this would give us an op­por­tu­nity to re­coup some of that through stream­ing. We had an­tic­i­pated per­haps 3,000-4,000 Hearts fans watch­ing on pay-per-view at around £15 a time, al­though we’ve yet to set­tle on the charge.

‘Then we heard ru­mours the BBC in­tended to fol­low Hearts and Dundee away from home through­out the sea­son and the fear was at the back of my mind they would pick our game.

‘I sup­pose they’re look­ing for an au­di­ence and Hearts and Dundee have solid fan bases. ‘We hoped they would spread the games around. The agree­ment the SPFL has with the BBC means there are no sep­a­rate pay­ments for each Cham­pi­onship club — the money for our games all goes into the SPFL pot and the Premier­ship clubs take 80 per cent of that.

‘It’s likely Cham­pi­onship clubs will now be worse off as a re­sult. This is just an­other blow but the BBC have the choice of 20 games to broad­cast live from 27 rounds of fix­tures, so other clubs will also suf­fer.

‘We have Hearts twice at home, so I’d hope we at least avoid hav­ing their sec­ond visit be­ing tele­vised and that we can also have fans back by then.’

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