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Football and Television - Time for a Change!

By: The FSF
Date: 19/03/2003

SUPPORTER representatives from professional clubs from the Premiership and all divisions of the Football League through to the non-league pyramid will be lobbying MPs of all political parties at Westminster on Tuesday 1 April 2003.

Listen to any group of football supporters - at a game, in a pub, railway station or motorway services and you’ll hear the same thing.

"What time did you have to start out?"
"No we had to drive. There’s no trains at this time of the morning."
"Even if we do go up we won’t be able to compete. The gap in money’s so huge these days."
"No. Had to watch it in the pub. I don’t subscribe to the right channel."
"No. I stayed home and watched the European game on the box

What links all these issues? Television of course. The arrival of multi-channel TV via satellite and cable has transformed football. Just two decades ago game was receiving less from television than it now receives for radio rights. The amount of money coming into the game now would have beggared belief then.

You don’t have to tell many supporters about the flip side however.

  • Constant changes of kick-off times and days making travel and time off planning a nightmare
  • The increasing wealth gap in football, especially after the ITV Digital collapse
  • Smaller professional clubs in the Football League and pyramid losing gate revenue when big domestic and European matches are televised midweek
  • Key matches only being available via subscription or pay-per-view channels

    With both the Premiership and FA television contracts up for renewal soon, NOW’S the chance for YOU the ordinary football supporter to influence events before the new deals are set in stone again for three or four seasons. The European Union has now followed the UK government in questioning whether football should continue to be allowed to negotiate rights deals collectively.

    Football Supporters’ Parliamentary Lobby
    Tuesday 1 April 2003
    Assemble 11.45am
    Westminster Central Hall
    Storey’s Gate London, SW1
    2 minutes from House of Commons

    If clubs were allowed to do their own deals there’s little doubt the few already rolling in it will get even richer with even fewer crumbs for the rest. But supporters have an agenda too. We want:

  • A much fairer distribution of TV money throughout the game. It happens in North American sports. Why not here?
  • An end to constant kick-off and matchday changes - any danger of Saturday at 3.00pm at least half the time?
  • A TV-free midweek evening to allow smaller professional clubs to play without competing with big matches on TV. A drop in four hundred due to a game on the box might seem a drop in the ocean to a Premiership or First Division club. It’s a lot of money for the likes of Morecambe.

    We MUST get all these points over to our Members of Parliament. We need YOU to join us at the House of Commons that week to lobby your constituency MP. A debate on football and television will be being held that week. We need to promote attendance and participation in that debate.

    If you REALLY can’t make it to London on 1 April (NO, NOT can’t be arsed, really CAN’T make it!) then please write or phone your local MP or visit him/her in their constituency surgery. Even if you are coming to the lobby you need to contact your MP to tell them that you’d like to see them on the day. Please also mention that you hope they’ll be participating in the debate. Details of how to do this are below.

    Who is my MP? I haven’t got a clue! How do I find out?

    You can log on to the parliamentary website at or ring the House of Commons on 020 7219 3000. Alternatively you can ring your local town hall. Public libraries will also have details of your local MP. How do I get in touch with her/him? You can simply ring the number above or write to them at: House of Commons London SW1A 1AA

    Or you can write to them at their constituency office if you have the address. Many MPs now publish e-mail addresses and have their own websites too. Details of those that do are listed on the parliamentary website.

    What should I say to my MP?

    Raise all the points in this leaflet and say you support the FSF’s campaign for a fair deal for fans and the game from TV. If you’re coming to the Lobby say you’d like to see her/him at the House of Commons on that day. If you can’t make the lobby say you’d like to see her/him at their constituency surgery. In larger constituencies these are often held in several locations. Ask for details of the one most convenient for you.

    Which MP should I approach? The one for where I live or the one representing the constituency where my club’s ground is situated?

    Parliamentary rules are strict about this. MPs can ONLY take up issues on behalf of THEIR constituents. You MUST therefore contact your OWN MP. You can ask them to take up the issue with the MP covering your club’s home ground however.

    Make sure you:

  • Let us know that you’re coming by contacting Mark or Steven
  • Contact your MP before 1 April whether you’re coming or not
  • Raise the lobby with fellow supporters
  • Wear shirts/colours on the day

    For further information please contact:

    Steven Powell
    07881 950613

    Mark Longden
    07887 575933

    The Fishy's Rob Sedgwick will be travelling to Westminster to the House of Commons to have his say on the issues - feel free to contact him and meet up before the event starts.

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