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Barber wary over TV games
Paul Barber admits he will have extra reason to keep an eye on two televised matches over Christmas and New Year.
He won’t be watching them. But he will be very interested – and a little concerned – about what they could mean for the balance between TV coverage and people attending or playing in live games.
Albion have moved their Boxing Day clash against Charlton forward to 12.30pm to avoid the West Ham v Liverpool televised match at 3pm.
They will go head to head with Southampton v Chelsea when they host Bournemouth on New Year’s Day.
Albion’s chief executive is worried to see televised games – both on Premier League newcomers BT Sport – kicking off at 3pm on both days.
And he is wary of a dangerous precedent being set Barber, pictured below, is happy with a current set-up which sees the day’s first live games ending just before 3pm and later TV fixtures kicking off after 5pm.
But he hopes this year’s holiday schedules do not lead to top-flight matches being screened just as hundreds of clubs at all levels are getting stuck into their own matches.
Barber said: “This is the first time in memory that on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, a live TV game has been scheduled for the protected zone if you like, the 3-5pm slot where we try to protect each other’s crowds.
“It could put people off going to live games.
“The bigger concern for me, though, is whether this is the beginning of seeing live games scheduled for 3pm on a Saturday in the normal course of a season.
“That could affect us and it also affects grass roots football “All of us at the Albion accept that at 3pm on a Saturday there will be lads playing football who can’t get to The Amex.
“If we compound that by having, let’s say Manchester United v Manchester City on TV at 3pm on a Saturday, then some of our own attendances are going to be affected.
“I’ve got some concerns about that and I feel we just need to be careful we keep this balance we have had for a number of years.
“We have great live TV slots which by and large don’t seem to affect the grass roots game or live attendance at matches.”
Barber is also unhappy about what he sees as an unbalanced schedule of home games for Albion – and he has told the Football League so.
He said: “I think one home game in 33 days followed by three in 18 days leading up to Christmas is an imbalance.
“We know December is busy and it is very difficult for the league to get a perfect balance and we understand that. But what we have now doesn’t feel right from the football club’s business point of view.
“And, more significantly, from the fans’ point of view I don’t think it’s the right balance.”
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