Andy Holt on Saturday streaming and how the EFL responded to key questions

ACCRINGTON Stanley chairman Andy Holt insists he will continue to ‘bang a drum’ in his opposition to iFollow.

The Reds chief has been an outspoken critic of live streaming of games under the current format and is concerned that his club are missing out on away revenue with fans opting to stream the game instead of attending.

Holt has invested significantly in a new stand at the Wham Stadium which will cater for away supporters but said he feels let down by the current streaming process, available for midweek matches and Saturday afternoons during the international break.

“That is what frustrates me about iFollow because I am spending money on away fans and iFollow encourages them not to come,” said Holt.

Stanley beat Bury to reach Lancashire Senior Cup last four

“There was no mention of it (in the EFL meeting in summer) and that is frustrating.

“A few weeks ago Shaun Harvey came here and he never mentioned it. I am going out on a limb supporting the Checkatrade Trophy and yet this is going on behind my back. I don’t like that.

“They (EFL) would prefer it if I didn’t say anything but I am not that bothered what they prefer because I have a job to do.

“If you are not open and straight with fans then they don’t know what you are doing or why we are doing it.

“Quite often in life if you know and you communicate it properly then even if it goes wrong they will at least know what you are trying to do and people will work with you. It is not rocket science.

“The EFL said that we knew about it (streaming on a Saturday) but I rang 10 clubs up and they didn’t know either.

“Burton fans were sending me stuff saying they are not coming because they can watch it on iFollow.

“Some Bradford fans didn’t come, they are sold an iFollow ticket for a tenner which might be for two people, and they sit at home, Bradford get £6.66, the EFL get £3.33 and I get nothing and we are paying for the game.

“I couldn’t go to Man United and stream their match live from their ground and take the cash for myself. It is the economics of a mad house.

“Whether you sell a physical ticket or an online ticket for a game we are putting on then Stanley wants, I would say 95 per cent of the revenue like we do on a normal ticket, but we certainly don’t want nothing.

“The EFL expect me to accept that and I am not going to and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to accept it. I reckon it cost us £5,000 (against Bradford).”

Holt said he is not against the idea of streaming but believes the home club should be able to control the price.

He added: “I don’t have a problem with streaming because there are some fans who can’t make it but I want some control over the price like we do over ticket prices and I want some of the income.

“To join the iFollow we would have to pay £20,000 and we would lose money on it the way it is set up. No doubt at all.

“The EFL said to us that you would be mad to do it.

“They have set something up that we are excluded from because it would be mad to join in, and then taking money of us and giving it to the away club. Then they expect me to not say anything. My job is to protect Accrington Stanley and if people threaten our future then expect me to bang a drum.”

In response to Andy Holt’s comments, the Lancashire Telegraph asked the EFL six key questions about Saturday streaming. Here’s how they responded.

Is the blanket 3pm blackout here to stay for the EFL?

Along with the Premier League, the EFL continues to support the provisions as set out in UEFA Article 48.

On this basis, any change to the current position will be driven by others outside the professional game and will be strongly opposed by the EFL.

This matter was discussed with clubs at a recent meeting and the position was firmly reiterated. It should be noted that on those occasions where the EFL and its clubs have streamed games at 3pm on a Saturday, this is because Article 48 does not apply during international breaks.

Is a model where the home team (eg Accrington) receive no money for a game at their own ground being streamed to away fans not hurting smaller clubs?

The agreement in place is a reciprocal one, in that each EFL club keeps its own revenue, whether they are home or away. The impact it potentially has on smaller clubs will only occur if fans choose not to attend when in normal circumstances they would have purchased a ticket and headed through the turnstiles.

The marketing strategy for the streaming services has been targeted on those who cannot get to the game and on this basis if they were never going or not planning to attend, then it is additional revenue.

Do the EFL have a response to Andy Holt when he says they were not properly informed of the changes for this season and that it was not mentioned at the EFL meeting last summer?

There has been a significant amount of communication in regard to the issues surrounding domestic streaming since the matter was first discussed back in September 2017.

This has included face-to-face meetings and written communications. The specific matter was not discussed in June 2018 other than in general terms as part of other presentations.

The point in relation to streaming on international weekends was specifically referred to at a digital meeting in April 2018. On this occasion, Accrington Stanley were in attendance at this meeting and the presentation was subsequently distributed to all clubs.

Could the EFL be communicating better with clubs on issues such as this?

We would always take the view that improvements can be made in all aspects of the work the EFL does and that must include communication, which has to be one of the important areas of our day-to-day business.

We conduct a comprehensive programme of disseminating information on an almost daily basis and with multiple stakeholders within our 72 clubs, our approach clearly does rely on effective communication taking place inside each and every club.

Given the scale of the EFL operation, it is simply not practical to deliver individual briefings and we opt for a strategy that has served us well in that respect for many years.

Is it a concern that possible attendances could be hit by people opting to watch iFollow rather than travel (particularly away fans)?

Anything that potentially affects a critical part of EFL clubs’ revenues is something that requires constant monitoring and review.

This was highlighted at the outset of the domestic streaming journey and is core to the decision to review all games played up until the end of October to determine what impact it has had.

It remains our belief, however, that football fans will always choose the live experience over watching a stream.

What the introduction of domestic streaming has done is give supporters an option if they are unable to get to the game in person.

Accrington are not in EFL Digital because it would not be cost effective for them to join, is it then fair that they cannot receive any income from home streaming?

The EFL operates under a simple principle of ensuring opportunities are made available to all.

As with other teams throughout the divisions, Accrington Stanley are eligible to join EFL Digital and become part of the collective network.

Even if they don’t take up that option they still have the opportunity to stream games under licence from EFL Digital, as in the case of a number of other clubs.

On this basis it is Accrington Stanley, who at present, exclude themselves from taking advantage of the opportunity and earning incremental revenues from streaming services.

Source : LancashireTelegraph

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