Ian Hart: How long until football's own version of Netflix?

As chairman of Crystal Palace, I always found Simon Jordan a bit of a joke '“ while we are all passionate about our respective clubs, he had delusions of grandeur when it came to the Eagles.

Friday, 4th August 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:22 am
How long until football's own version of Netflix?

Unfortunately things didn’t pan out for him at Selhurst Park and never more so was the old adage about how to make a small fortune out of football, start with a large one, more apt.

Now well into my 50s, I actually found myself agreeing with ‘Flash Jordan’ the other day. Discussing the ongoing expansion of football and specifically the potential income from TV coverage, Jordan rightly pointed out the Premier League and its member clubs won’t really maximise their worth until they take the bold step of cutting out the broadcaster.

At present the pathway involves product (i.e. Premier League) to the broadcaster who then provides the service to the consumer.

Jordan questioned at what point will the Premier League realise they can actually cut out the broadcaster, Sky, BT or terrestrial television, and do it themselves?

They could seriously contemplate producing a footballing version of Netflix.

Operating on all the various media platforms, with subscribers paying a set monthly fee, half of the money goes to their designated club, the other into a pot which is then equally shared by the 20 clubs.

With truly a global product, the income would reach its current levels and beyond – but with the key factor it would effectively be its own broadcaster. The league and its clubs would not beholden to the existing broadcasters as they are now.

A long way off perhaps, but ultimately sooner or later Sky and the other broadcasters will reach a negotiating point where they truly can call the shots (some might argue they do already) so the ‘DIY’ broadcasting route suggested by Jordan might be the best option for the clubs – hopefully with the Albion, by then an established Premier League club, being a part of it.

A great night at Woodside on Tuesday, with Omar Bugiel, returning with Forest Green Rovers, having the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to the Worthing FC faithful.

While Forest Green could have brought a slightly stronger side, it certainly didn’t detract from the occasion.

My experience with footballers both professional and non-league has taught me collectively they are an eclectic mix. Having said that, from that first day Adam Hinshelwood signed Omar and he walked through the gates at Woodside Road, he’s been a great example to his peers both on and off the field.

When they come to write the second hundred years of Worthing FC’s history in about 60 years time, I’m sure Omar will still be remembered as a true Woodside Great.

So, for the first time in 25 years, the Football League campaign starts this Saturday with no Albion involvement.

Obviously next week’s column will have a full Premier League preview but I couldn’t let this week pass without my annual predictions for the other three leagues.

Some might say I’m almost playing safe but three clubs, who’ve all seen better days, will be on the way back. There’s no such thing as a surefire bet but a Villa, Pompey and Luton treble for their respective leagues certainly has the potential to go the distance.

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