Cristiano Ronaldo's return: Why isn't Manchester United v Newcastle live on TV?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has made the clash with Newcastle the hottest ticket in town.

But it has not been selected for television coverage by Sky Sports or BT Sport.

Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Why isn’t Man Utd v Newcastle live on TV?

Sky and BT make their selections for televised matches ahead of time.

The televised matches for September were announced on July 5.


At that point, United v Newcastle looked like a standard, run-of-the-mill fixture.

That said, BT Sport did show United’s 3-1 win over Newcastle in February.

The broadcasters weren’t to know at that stage that the match would be the scene of Ronaldo’s blockbuster return to Old Trafford.

Those selections were already made and locked in long before Ronaldo’s transfer was confirmed.

Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Why can’t 3pm kick-offs be shown on TV?

English football adheres to a ‘blackout’ in terms of televised football between 2.45pm and 5.15pm.

That means no games can be shown live on English television during those hours.

The aim is to protect the attendances of teams lower down the pyramid who kick off at 3pm.

We don’t know what the impact of removing the blackout would be, but it could reduce the ticket revenue of clubs who have had an incredibly tough time staying afloat during the pandemic.

Other countries in Europe don’t have a ‘blackout’ because their other divisions don’t kick off at the same time as the vast majority of their top flight matches.

England and Scotland are broadly unique in that regard, and one possible solution to this issue in future might be to remove Premier League matches from the 3pm slot, to suit television audiences and lower league clubs.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.