Cristiano Ronaldo's debut with Manchester United is one of the events of this weekend in the world of football … and it will not be broadcast on television in the United Kingdom. Why can't it be seen live? Are there better games to broadcast this Saturday at the same time? Who has chosen that it be so? All questions have a single answer and it is a law that has been in force for many years: In England it is forbidden to televise games live on Saturday afternoons between 2:45 pm and 5:15 pm.
The two-and-a-half-hour television blackout It is a rule protected by UEFA that seeks to protect the bulk of the day of British football, which always starts at 3:00 pm in the afternoon, and whose objective is to encourage all fans not to stop attending the stadiums during that stretch. According to the theory behind it, regular fans will not change their minds if there is a Premier League game on television, but “occasional fans” could., with the economic consequences that this would bring to the base of English football. As most of the weekend matches are played at 3:00 pm -only the matches that are broadcast on television or those that are played during the week do not meet that schedule- the “blackout” encourages spectators not to turn their backs on the most humble clubs of the English pyramid.
Premier League matches are broadcast in 188 countries in the world and Manchester United-Newcastle will be seen in most of them, since the norm does not affect the rest. Due to the “blackout”, for example, there have been games between Barcelona and Real Madrid that could not be broadcast in England, or even began to be televised when it had been playing for a quarter of an hour. Other countries do not have this problem as there are different time slots for the matches: in Spain all matches start at different times and in Germany the lower leagues do not overlap with the Bundesliga matches.
And why did the English television channels -Sky Sports or BT Sport- not choose the match of Cristiano Ronaldo's possible debut as one of the matches they wanted to broadcast this weekend? Because they had to choose their matches on July 5, long before the Portuguese return to Old Trafford had been confirmed.
The great beneficiary of this Saturday's “blackout” will be the radioAs BBC Radio 5 Live will be the only station that will narrate the 90 minutes of Manchester United-Newcastle that will almost certainly mean Cristiano Ronaldo's second premiere with the Red Devils.