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Supporters refuse to help BT Sport until talks about impact on fans

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Tottenham Hotspur fans have refused to work with BT Sport on its Champions League coverage unless the broadcaster is willing discuss its impact on match-going fans.

BT Sport approached leading Spurs fan group the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) recently asking for help in producing fan-orientated content ahead of their round of 16 tie against Dortmund.

However, THST declined citing BT Sport’s unwillingness to discuss its impact on Premier League and FA Cup schedules that have left thousands of supporters out of pocket.

Fans of several Premier League clubs were hit this month after BT Sport refused to change the conditional picks it made in the previous round of TV selections.

Both Newcastle United vs Burnley and Leicester City vs Crystal Palace were moved with just four weeks’ notice after Manchester City progressed to the League Cup final – rather than lose its TV slots the broadcaster sought replacement teams, despite the TV picks for February being made back in December 2018.

“Normally we like to help with requests such as this, but we currently have a bit of an issue with BT Sport,” THST said in its letter to the broadcaster.

“For the last two years, fan organisations have been trying to work with the broadcasters and football authorities to mitigate the impact of TV fixture scheduling on supporters, particularly travelling fans.

“BT Sport has, however, refused to engage in conversation beyond an initial cursory meeting.”

Tottenham Hotspur fans were also unhappy with BT Sport’s selections in the FA Cup, which saw their third round tie at Tranmere moved to a Friday 7.45pm kick-off, making it impossible for Spurs fans to get home via public transport, leading to protests in the away end.

“BT’s current approach of acting with impunity and disdain towards fans is not hitting the mark,” THST said.

“We’re pleased you see fans as suitable material to use in content. If you could also see fans as suitable to have a proper, constructive conversation with to secure a deal that benefits everyone, we could work together productively.”

BT Sport has yet to respond.

TV’s impact on the fixture schedule is a growing issue and one that the FSF, together with supporter groups around the country, is increasingly focusing on.

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