Sky Sports have struck a “revolutionary” deal with the Football League that will see them allowed to stream all midweek matches from 2019 until 2024.
The £600million, five-year contract also means that all Championship, League One and League Two clubs will be able to stream their midweek league fixtures via their own official websites, provided they are not chosen for live broadcast by Sky.
— EFL (@EFL) September 12, 2017
The agreement comes into play at the start of the 2019/20 season, and will see Sky retain the exclusive rights to all Football League, EFL Cup, Checkatrade Trophy and play-off matches.
As ever, the agreement doesn’t extend to matches played during the customary Saturday afternoon, 14:45-17:15 BST blackout.
Beloved EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey had this to say on the matter:
These negotiations came at what was an incredibly challenging period in the sale and acquisition of sports rights in the UK.
Having fully tested the market, we believe that not only has a significant increase in value for our clubs been achieved, but also the very best deal, with the best partner has been delivered.
Having lost the Champions League to BT Sports until 2021 at the earliest, securing the Football League rights ensures Sky can still screen live football during the week, at a cost of £120million per season under the terms of this new deal.
Of course, the immediate concern would be that more games on television would further deplete dwindling midweek attendances and gate money, especially through the winter.
However, it stands to reason that those fans hardy enough to make 200-mile round slogs on a freezing cold Tuesday night are unlikely to be coerced into staying at home and watching the match on their computer/tablet/phone/microwave, etc.
Anyway, it’s too late to argue now. Sky have already gone and chucked £600million at it and that, as they say, is that.