Clubs fear Hearts and Dundee live TV blow
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.’