The Football Association will broadcast the England Under-21’s European Championship qualifier against Macedonia on Friday for free.
The match will be the first England game streamed live on the FA website and will start at 1945 BST. The contest will take place at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
The FA says that “This is the best way to ensure as many fans as possible get the chance to see England’s young stars for free” and that they decided to show the game online for free after “UK broadcasters confirmed they were unable to schedule the match during peak-time”.
In contrast, fans wanting to watch England’s senior team in action this weekend against Ukraine will have to pay a nominal fee to watch the game online (more details here).
The BBC puts a nice spin to it:
Kentaro – an international agency appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation – has the UK rights for the game and when contacted by BBC Sport on Wednesday, it would not reveal how many viewers had subscribed to the match.
If I was to guess…not enough.
Don’t get me wrong – streaming live football matches online is the best way to go forward to make football matches accessible to fans worldwide and the Kentaro / Perform deal as well as FA’s initiative will only help the cause, but there’s still some time to go before the people in charge get it right. Given that fans online have been clamoring for a solution for several years now, it won’t be soon enough.