April 23, 2021

EFL chiefs looking to extend iFollow service beyond end of this season

4 min read

EFL bosses will look into possible ways of extending the hugely successful iFollow service which has been a salvation for clubs and fans during the pandemic.

Championship clubs Norwich and Watford have netted up to £1m each while Bolton and Ipswich have also recorded extraordinary figures for the live streaming service.

The EFL deserve huge credit for the way they have navigated a year-long lockdown which has cost clubs around £250m in lost revenue and fans have signed up to iFollow in their droves having been locked out of their stadiums.

Premier League and EFL have both received special permission during the pandemic to be exempt from UEFA’s Article 48 which blocks Saturday 3pm games being shown live for fears that it would mean fans no longer go to games.

But EFL chief executive Trevor Birch has confirmed they will look at potential ways to introduce a “hybrid” model of some sorts, although they are acutely aware that some clubs may not be in favour if their figures have not been as good.

Birch said: “The media landscape may change and I Follow morphs into an over the top platform that we then work with. There are a few variations that it might instigate discussions over.

“We have a problem with Article 48. That was waived this season but if a substantial number of fans are back that might be off the cards. What might have happened is that the fans have got used to that so there might be a hybrid model if more fans weren’t to return.”

Prem bosses ditch Zoom

Premier League bosses are clearly confident in the return of some sort of normality – as their Annual General Meeting is due to be held in person rather than via Zoom.

The date has been set for June 10 at Harrogate’s luxury Rudding Park hotel when all 20 clubs will meet. Further discussions will also take place about the Government’s forthcoming Gambling Act which was discussed last month and is likely to outlaw betting shirt sponsorship.

Summer tours off the agenda

Summer tours are off the agenda for top flight clubs who normally earn millions for playing glamour friendlies in far flung places.

But Prem clubs have basically booked out La Manga with several due to be jetting off to the luxury Spanish resort for their training camps before returning to the UK to play pre-season friendlies ahead of next season.

Pep playing Haaland mind games?



Guardiola saw Haaland up close and personal on Tuesday night
Guardiola saw Haaland up close and personal on Tuesday night

Pep Guardiola may be playing some clever mind games over whether Manchester City could or could not afford Erling Haaland. First, the City boss said they couldn’t afford £100m and then he claimed they would spend it on the right player.

Borussia Dortmund are in no rush to sell but also do not dismiss City’s interest in Southampton ’s Danny Ings. There is always a large degree of snobbishness around English players.

But City’s interest is genuine and, while Ings may not want to go to some clubs as a back-up, the chance to move to the Etihad could prove difficult to turn down.

One thing for sure is that Ings probably does not get the respect he deserves away from St Mary’s as he is regarded by his team mates as hugely talented, naturally gifted and his hard-working style would definitely be a fit for City.

Get with the programme

Football fans have been sad to see the lack of programmes for England games while several Premier League clubs have also stopped producing them during the pandemic.

But the Football Association insist that they will return with fans back in stadiums and it has just not been commercially viable to produce them during the pandemic. There had been some research as to whether they could move to online only but traditionalists still love programmes.

Lingard to wait on future



Lingard has starred for West Ham
Lingard has starred for West Ham

Jesse Lingard will have to wait to discover his fate this summer after his hugely impressive loan spell at West Ham.

That has surely prompted some embarrassment at Manchester United to see him doing so well but as yet there are no signs that Lingard will be allowed to leave Old Trafford on a permanent basis even if West Ham would love to get him.

Stars’ haircut loophole

Barber shops and hairdressers will be open from Monday but Premier League stars have been able to have a trim during lockdown thanks to a loophole which allows the entertainment industry to get a haircuts.

Clubs have been able to form special Covid safe bubbles allowing barbers into training grounds or to see players and few have been more popular than Sheldon Edwards whose HD Cutz business proudly boasts some of the biggest names like Raheem Sterling and Tammy Abraham.

A Star Barbers have also been able to make visits to top players such as Paul Pogba with owner Ahmed Alsanawi proudly boasting some of the biggest names in his client list.

Clubs love playing away

Away results have dramatically improved during the pandemic, according to new research and data.

Analysts Sportmonks have discovered there have been more away wins (52) than home wins (48) in the Premier League since match round 18 in the 2020/21 season.

Away teams have won 41 per cent of all Premier League games in 2021, compared to 38 per cent for home teams while away wins for West Ham, West Brom, Liverpool and Manchester City last weekend all helped show a 36.7 per cent increase in away results compared to the last five years.

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