- Wrexham co-owner Reynolds had called for clubs to be able to live stream matches
- National League working with BT Sport to secure agreement
The National League, the semi-professional fifth tier of English club soccer, is planning to launch a streaming service in the second half of this season.
It follows criticism last month from Ryan Reynolds, the Wrexham co-owner and Hollywood actor, over the league’s refusal to allow clubs to live stream matches.
Title sponsor Vanarama had also backed Reynolds’ criticism over the fifth tier’s decision to prevent clubs from offering direct-to-consumer (DTC) live games to fans, both domestically and internationally.
Now, the National League has given a major update on the situation, confirming plans for a streaming service for later in the campaign.
A statement read: ‘We have been working closely with [BT Sport] over the past few months to secure an agreement whereby non televised matches could be streamed on a league platform, also respecting the need to comply with Article 48 [The UK’s 3pm TV blackout] restrictions.
‘BT Sport have been incredibly supportive in this vision, for which we are extremely grateful. Following board approval, we will now be progressing matters to contractually cement that position.
‘After several months of considering the options and appropriate due diligence the board were presented with a detailed report which, having received proposals from a number of potential partners including market leaders and which also included speaking with organisations who have successful experience in streaming, a series of recommendations were made.
‘The board unanimously approved all recommendations and have tasked the commercial committee to immediately progress this work, finalise contractual arrangements and confirm timelines. The ambition is to have a fully functioning platform launch in the second half of the season.’
An over-the-top (OTT) service would ensure the National League is following the streaming plans of the three divisions below the Premier League. This season, every midweek fixture is being made available in the UK. Additionally, all games from League One and League Two – the third and fourth tiers – during the 2022 Fifa World Cup and on domestic Bank Holidays will be streamed.