The recent move by Sky Sports and the English Football League to start streaming every midweek Championship match has led to a drop-off in attendances, according to analysis by The Times.
Since the start of the 2018-19 season, every single midweek Championship match has been available on Sky via the red button as part of the broadcaster’s new deal with the EFL.
As The Times notes, clubs do not receive financial compensation for any potential revenue lost by fans choosing to stay at home and watch matches instead of attending in person.
The Times’ report found that the three midweek rounds this season have seen average attendances drop by 8.8 per cent compared to weekend matches. This represents a significant increase on last season, when crowds dropped by an average of 4.5 per cent in midweek.
The data studies the average drop-off between weekend and midweek fixtures, as opposed to overall attendances.
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, told The Times: “The EFL needs to be very careful about this because, at the end of the day, the television product requires the atmosphere that is created in the ground itself, an extraordinary example of which we have seen recently in Croatia for the England game.
“I hope the EFL is watching this very closely. As someone whose team was relegated to the Championship last season I am learning the reality of clearing off to difficult places in midweek far more often than in the Premier League.
“If there is an easier alternative – to watch your team than to go to the game – then the risk is that supporters will choose to stay in and watch it on TV. It may well be that the drop in gate revenue is not covered by any increase in TV money, in which case clubs may start to question it too.”