The last day of the Premier League season sees all 10 games played at 10am ET / 3pm UK time. This is so that no team knows what’s happening at any other ground – which is useful for close title fights and relegation scraps, a fine idea, even if this season all that was decided weeks ago.
Luckily these games are on a Sunday, for if they were on a Saturday nobody would be able to watch any of it on British television. Shortly after World War II, when soccer was on its way to becoming Britain’s favorite sport amidst the country’s rebuilding and television’s increasing popularity, small teams were worried about television’s effect on their revenue.
At that time, match day revenue was the most important financial figure for the club, and televised matches (usually of big clubs) would affect the attendance of small club games that were not on television. Thus, still to this day, no live soccer can be shown on Saturdays between 2:45-5:15pm local time in England.
This rule is archaic and overreaching for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, and ridiculously, not only is English soccer is affected. Spanish games that kick off at 5pm UK time are affected because obviously a Burnley fan would rather watch 15 minutes of Granada versus Real Sociedad than go to their local ground.
Secondly, match day revenue does not matter for more and more teams. Television revenue is king for pretty much every team in England’s top two divisions, and attendances at the bottom two divisions is falling regardless of the law. This is borne out by a European Court of Justice ruling in 2011, which stated that the closed periods on Saturday do not have any statistically significant effect on increasing game attendance.
Thirdly, fans are inconvenienced by a law that was designed for a different time. Back then, like always, games between big teams are going to be put on television for maximum revenue generation. 3pm local time is an effective kick-off time for a game considering England’s geography, supporters traveling south or north by train or coach can get to their destination without huge expense or inconvenience. Yet due to the black-out, Arsenal fans will have to get up at dawn on a Saturday to get up to Manchester City by 12:45pm local time.