Why is Manchester United vs Newcastle United not on TV? 3pm blackout explained

There is widespread frustration in the UK that Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United against Newcastle United on Saturday will not be televised, but this is due to a rule which dates back to the 1960s.

The Red Devils host the Magpies at 3pm on Saturday and only those inside Old Trafford will be watching the match live, legally, in the UK.

This is down to the 3pm blackout, which was first brought into place thanks to Burnley chairman Bob Lord in the 60s, who didn’t want to lose fans that may choose to watch big games on television rather than come to see teams lower down the football pyramid.

Lord’s suggestion was acted on and no games are shown between 2.45pm and 5.45pm on British TV. This has only been changed once, during the Covid-19 lockdowns when fans could were not allowed in stadiums so were allowed to watch from home, but it has now resorted back to the blackout.

It is a strange situation that football fans in the UK cannot watch the 3pm kick-offs, but supporters abroad can watch these games as the blackout doesn’t apply.

Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan feels the blackout has become outdated and should be scrapped.

‘I do believe there is no need for a 3pm watershed because originally when it was brought in, I think Bob Lord at Burnley was the architect of it, and believed that attendances would diminish with live football being put on and taking away from 3pm kick-offs,’ he told talkSPORT.

‘That doesn’t exist anymore because you can fill stadiums ten times over. Perhaps you should change that.

‘Currently they haven’t. Then what happens is these games will get broadcast at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and in Malaysia, where there is a big audience, they won’t want to pay a big bag of money to watch games that are being shown at certain times that don’t fit their audience.

‘Then you will have another problem.’

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