Premier League fans hoping to catch up with Everton against Manchester United this weekend may have been confused by the unusual kick-off time scheduled for 7 p.m.
Usually, weekend games take place at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday; and 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Why, then, the change to a later time for this specific luminaire? The reason, as is often the case with top-flight football matches these days, is due to television rights holders.
BT Sport have picked Everton against Man United as their matchweek 9 fixture. The broadcaster usually receives the game on Saturday lunchtime, with Sky taking the other games authorized to be shown on television. But given the Red Devils have a Europa League group clash with Cypriots Omonia Nicosia on Thursday night, BT’s standard 12:30 slot would not allow for a mandatory 48-hour gap between a team’s fixtures.
As part of their broadcast deal for this campaign, BT can use a 7pm slot on a Sunday if any of the teams involved in the chosen match are playing in Europe on the Thursday before the match.
Many fans, as well as Premier League managers, find it frustrating that TV rights holders wield so much power when it comes to altering matches, but, as things stand, little can be done unless the Premier League decides to clip the wings of Sky and BT. from next season.