Lincoln have been selected to play Forest Green on November 19th with a 12.45pm kick off. In times gone by being on TV was a real fillip for a club. It was a chance to show what we could do and the rewards far outweighed the troubles TV can bring you.
The National League is an anomaly all of it’s own. It’s a league that is almost impossible to get promoted from, but twice as easy to drop out of. The prize for being promoted is worth £1m to a club when all the grants and other money are taken into consideration, significantly more than stepping up from League Two to League One. It is a mix of part time and full time and most of all it exists in a parallel world where the reward of TV money is nowhere near compensation for the inconvenience and opportunity it affords our rivals.
I doubt very much that the part time teams in our league have the opportunity to watch Lincoln in action very often. They may catch the odd game here or there but their scouting networks will be limited. Stick us on TV though and every man and his dog can see what we’re about, and have the pundits do the hard work and dissect us as well. In the Premier League Arsenal know all about Chelsea and the advantage is lost, but I doubt Guiseley have the back room staff nor the time to come and watch us play and comprehensively dissect our tactics.
Being on TV doesn’t bring rich rewards either. The home team are awarded around £6000 for a National League fixture shown on TV, whereas the away team are given around £2000. In the grand scheme of things that isn’t a lot of money. We would have to feature 26 times on TV just to match the money the crowd funder brought in. This isn’t the mega bucks world of the Premier League and just because we share a time slot we don’t share in their wealth.
Now consider how much the inconvenience of an early away trip to Forest Green being on TV can cause. Firstly the early kick off guarantee’s there will be an overnight stay. If that wasn’t the plan then the £2000 would be spent in one fell swoop. I’d wager with other factors taken into consideration it could end up costing us to have the game moved.
It’s a pain for fans too. It might mean we get less going to the actual match because of the early kick off time. How that can be a good thing against a team with scant home support I’ll never know. As if the falafel wasn’t enough to keep you away, you have to get up in the middle of the night just to get there.
So in essence we are getting nothing in return for being paraded on TV. FGR v Lincoln should still be a top of the table clash, a bit of an event for BT Sports, I would expect it to draw a half decent viewing figure with the right sort of pre match hype. Although fans often won’t pay £15 to get into a game many will take the opportunity to watch a match if it’s beamed into their living rooms. All those people who have heard good things might take this as their opportunity to watch.
I suppose that is where the benefit kicks in. If you win well on TV the potential reach is good for the club. I’d bet if we play well against FGR at least fifty fans could be added to the gate. It doesn’t sound a lot, but it entry fee, programmes and food. It gives us an outlet to advertise the product that is Lincoln City.
However I’m not convinced. If we could ever get a home match televised then the benefits are more obvious, especially a later kick off. For a start you’d be £6000 better off not having any travelling re-arrangements to contest with. If it was a later kick off home fans might turn out in better numbers as well given the camera’s are there. A home match would be worth having.
Away at Forest Green though? Not for me, thanks for actually acknowledging us though BT. Finally.