EFL consider lifting TV blackout to begin screening games live on a Saturday afternoon
Luton Town supporters maybe able to watch their side play on the weekend in future seasons with the English Football League reportedly willing to consider scrapping the Saturday 3pm blackout as part of their new TV rights deal from 2024.
The present £595m five-year deal with Sky Sports was signed in 2018, and there is a growing belief at the EFL that a more lucrative package could be secured, with hopes that streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix and Apple might be interested in screening fixtures.
At the moment, Sky show at least 138 league matches a season as well as every play-off game and the Carabao Cup final, plus earlier rounds of the competition and the latter stages of the Papa Johns Trophy.
The 3pm blackout is imposed by UEFA, which means the EFL would have to lobby the Football Association, who in turn need to apply for an exemption from the European game's governing body to see the rule change come into play.
A statement from the EFL said: “Rights for all 1,891 matches across the league, EFL Cup, EFL Trophy and all end of season play-off matches are available for prospective bidders.”
EFL chief commercial officer Ben Wright added: "Alongside the EFL's rich tradition and distinguished history there is a desire to evolve, grow and innovate in order to grow our audience further and we're looking for a partner or partners who share that vision."
The rights to those games could not be sold without screening matches between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on a Saturday, which isn’t allowed at the moment, since the rule was imposed during the 1960s.
It was lifted during the Covid pandemic to allow supporters to watch games played behind closed doors, but re-imposed again once fans were allowed back into stadiums.
Clubs across the Football League voted to expand the iFollow streaming service over the summer, with an increased number of midweek and Bank Holiday games being shown.
Matches during the World Cup will also be streamed, although the Premier League and Championship sides like Luton are having a winter break.