Newcastle United have two big weeks ahead of them in the Premier League.
The game against Man City will make us all realize just how dizzy we can get about the upcoming season, while progress on the long-awaited reinforcements up front will either increase or temper any optimism early in the season.
I realize some people are a bit annoyed by the lack of attack depth (hello to all my internet fans), but I can’t believe even the most cynical aren’t looking ahead with some excitement.
We have our best team in years, a manager who has a plan for greatness and a promise to get better with every season. Relegation battles should at least be a thing of the past. At best, the European qualification and even (crushing) trophies are in sight.
For me, at least, that’s enough to spark interest after the mind-bending Ashley years. I’ve been going home and away through all this misery (lockdown stuff aside, let’s not be silly now) but on occasions that I haven’t gone I’ve tried not to let the game get to me. Spending time with my family or focusing on the friends/events I was with rather than attending the game became essential, both in terms of living a balanced life and in terms of feeling like I wasn’t myself was defeated by the Ashley regime.
Feigned indifference maybe, but time and time again I’d willfully ignore the game until I walked past a Sky Sports News screen or found a moment of solitude where I could give in and check the phone. Even Premier League games which were readily available through Sky Sports or BT didn’t want to draw me in and I kept those subscriptions going.
It’s different now. I’ll still prioritize the important people in my life, but every game is an event to aim for. Home games are untouchable and away games that I attend are planned well in advance and permanently entered into the family planner. When I don’t go, there’s television, with lots of games, and they too have become unavoidable.
It’s reminiscent of Kevin Keegan’s or Bobby Robson’s teams, where an unsupervised, non-televised game had few options. In KK times it was either the radio or watching the score updates on ceefax (ask yer da). It was a bit of a stretch for Sir Bobby’s team and you could follow the results on the internet or via Sky’s Soccer Special. And of course you now have…
Well, not much more. If Newcastle is not among the selected games, you will not (legally) be able to watch the game live. The options are the same: Radio Newcastle, website of your choice or Jeff and the boys on Sky Sports News. The 3pm ‘blackout’ makes sure of that, although it’s almost certainly a good thing as I wonder how viewership would be hit in the lower leagues if they had to deal with a readily available armchair Liverpool experience?
I should clarify that above. You obviously can’t watch the game live if you happen to be in the UK. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience when you go on holiday during football season and find a bar for the game where a hodgepodge of TVs shows about six games at a time, none of which you could watch if It was you standing in a British pub (again, I should reserve ‘legally’).
Sometimes it’s even easier. I was in the US for the last few games last season and watched the victories over Arsenal and Burnley on the standard TV in my hotel room. I was wondering at the time how easy/expensive this is around the world and here is an ideal overview courtesy of the Sporticos website who have created their own EPL price index and rate how much it costs to get the league in see some of the world’s largest consumer countries. Here is the list of the most expensive:
It comes as no surprise at all to see Britain at the top and it stands to reason. As this is our national league and the most popular sport, there is a huge audience with high demand for the games and increased consumer appetite drives up the price etc. But the price that Sporticos has given here is the cheapest option , if you’re smart and get Sky Sport via a Now TV monthly pass, BT via their own monthly option and Amazon in a free trial on the two occasions they show games. It’s also worth remembering that even with that you still don’t get all the games and have to resort to refreshing Twitter or try to get Radio Newcastle reception in the Yorkshire Dales or something.
Many of the other countries involved will have access to each game, although in some instances, like my own experience in America, you’ll need to have studied codebreaking in advance to deduce which of the confusing myriad of channels the game you want is actually on (NBC Golf for a game). A small price to pay for your choice of half price matches.
Elsewhere, you get even more bang for your buck. These are the cheapest countries that Sporticos has looked at:
Of course, the appalling economic imbalances in the world must be taken into account, with very few people in India or Brazil being able to afford the kind of prices at the top end of the table, but countries with huge populations and established or growing interests in football have access to pretty much anything, which is useful considering Bruno and Joelinton’s compatriots can see them every week and possibly develop a little affection for their club.
You can find more information about this on the Sporticos website. Insanity to think that something so cheap in one part of the world could have such exclusive prices and restrictions in another part of the world. Consumption has really gotten us all down, hasn’t it? Perhaps the troubles of extreme capitalism didn’t begin and end with the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United after all…