Streaming and Standing, Have Some Respect

There’s a popular movement and hash tag which declares a hatred for modern football, surprisingly it is something like #againstmodernfootball. Whilst I agree with some of the arguments put forward by those most actively working to combat ‘modern football’, I think there is a strange romanticism about the ‘good old days’ which bears little resemblance to the truth.

What has sparked me off today (and something usually does as you know) is the arguments on social media about streaming matches live from your phone. There’s a general indignation that it has been outlawed now we are in the League, how the Gestapo EFL are trying to censor the good honest football fan, how those in exile are being punished, its us against the machine etc. You’ve read the posts.

It was a comment along the lines of ‘typical of modern football’ that made me chuckle, especially when it is made in regard to streaming games live on Facebook. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Facebook live only become a thing at the beginning of last season? The first game I tried to watch on someone’s stream was Wrexham away, and in the end I opted to listen to the BBC commentary instead. The streams are low quality, often shot in low resolution by a youth shaking due to either cold, heavy alcohol consumption or a nervous twitch.

I agree it is harsh that the BBC cannot have live commentary on the internet, that does anger me. I’m on holiday for Grimsby away, and now I will have to follow the Imps Twitter feed instead of listen to Michael Hortin and Steve Thompson, and that seems ludicrous. It isn’t their fault though,.

It’s been suggested that perhaps given the quality of the streams that they’re not hurting anyone, and the EFL need to ‘lighten up’. I suppose that is much like the film industry needed to ‘lighten up’ when Hemswell market was awash with the latest block buster VHS video tapes, filmed by some rogue on a camcorder sat at the back of a cinema. The harsh fact is football in the EFL is a licensed product, much like a film in the cinema or a show on the West End. The ‘fight for the people’ types have crept out stating it isn’t illegal to live stream, it’s not being recorded properly, they can’t do anything to stop you doing it. News flash: they can, and they will.

But who are they? Is it our much-maligned football club, now clear of controversy surrounding tickets but wading straight into the streaming row? No, they’re as culpable as those in the stands filming. It isn’t a steward’s fault if he comes and stops you streaming either, he (or she) are doing what they are paid to do. The club aren’t at fault, they’re acting upon the rules and regulations of the Football League, the entity we have been fighting to re-enter for the last six years. If you want to stream live, perhaps you should follow one of the National League clubs, although I’m pretty sure BT Sport will soon be cracking down on it as well.

Also, if you think we’re being hard done by perhaps just give Bob a call and ask how much benefit our youth system will get from money provided by the EFL, money they are able to give us through licensing of the ‘product’, our football matches. Financially we are infinitely better off in the EFL than the National League and that comes about because they sell us to the highest bidder and then spread the money where they need to. Remember, this isn’t the Premier League millions suffocating the good honest endeavour of illegal streaming, it is the EFL, arguably feeding from the top-flight crumbs themselves.

I’m afraid guys, rules are rules, and those that continue to stream do so at risk of being ejected and having any season ticket revoked. Read the terms and conditions of entry, it’s fairly clear. I’m sure Lincoln City will do everything they can to ensure no home fans get into trouble, but if you continue to live stream games you will end up in trouble. If you don’t like it, perhaps take a drive to Gainsborough Trinity where there isn’t such an issue. For anyone outside of the UK there is the iFollow, and for those savvy enough to understand VPN’s I’m sure it is an option everywhere. What you will then get is the argument of cost, and if you’re a exiled Imps begrudging paying £40 or whatever for all of the games, perhaps you don’t deserve a live feed anyway.

There’s a lot of arguing about standing up at matches too, an emotive subject that I believe the club have done really well in working around in recent years. For a decade prior to 2016 it really hasn’t been a problem whether you stood up or not, because there was plenty of space at the back of the stand and even in block 7 (pictured top). The 617 and their associates have negotiated their rights up in block 7, it took a season or two of discussions, sacrifice and diplomacy to arrive in a place where the club allowed standing. If you think that just because they do it in block 7, you can stand in front of whoever you want in block 5, you’re sadly very much out of order.

I thought being a football fan was all about the camaraderie, travelling away en mass as one united force in enemy territory. Draw, win or lose we’re only here for the booze and all that. Nowadays, it seems as if some (not all) have this sense of entitlement that states they can do as they please when they pay entry. It may not seem fair to you that block 7 stand and you can’t, but were you sat around the negotiating table back in 2013 or whenever it was, when Connor, Marcus and the rest of the lads were fighting for their cause? Or have you rocked up in the last season or two, buoyed by the success of the club and decided you just want to stand wherever you can? Have you been forced from block 7 and therefore think you still have the right to stand where you want, and (excuse my language) fuck anyone sat behind you?

Safe standing is on the agenda nation wide, and there’s no doubt the 617 and more militant fans will be fighting tooth and nail to have some included in our new stadium, something I support wholeheartedly. At this moment in time Sincil Bank is an all-seater stadium, something that came into being because of the tragedy at Hillsborough. Whilst 2017 seems a long way away from those dark days in 1989, we abide by the rules set back then because they ensure our safety. Again, it isn’t killjoy stewarding or belligerent club ownership trying to stamp out your fun, it is the rules. In truth the club have worked with the 617 to ensure there was some give and take, some meeting in the middle ground, but that does not mean any Tom, Dick or Sally can stand where they want, when they want.

It’s coming, but not yet

I know someone who brings his 90-year old Dad to the games, should that man be made to stand up because some selfish fan in front thinks he can do as he pleases? No, of course not. You know what? I’m a broken man, my back isn’t good and at around a stone overweight my legs often aren’t prepared to support my ample frame throughout ninety minutes, especially not if fuelled by a few pints of the amber nectar. If I have paid for a seat, the same seat I’ve had now for six months, why should I not be able to sit in it and watch the game, just because someone feels they want to stand? Standing at the moment is not an option, block 7 fought hard for the right to do it, but if people persist in arguing ‘they do it in block 7 so why can’t I?’ where do you think the club will go? Do you think they’ll let everyone stand as they want and risk trouble from the FA, or do you think you’ll ruin it for those in block 7 that have scrapped and fought for their place?

Standing on the terraces in the 1980’s was not great, and I only remember the tail end of that decade. There is nothing romantic about those days, nothing that so-called modern football has ruined. Almost every away end was uncovered, kids (such as I) couldn’t see a damn thing for ninety minutes because everyone was stood up. Atmosphere? Yeah, right. The 1980’s were not supporter friendly, the atmosphere were often just as muted and stifled as they were up to 2016 at the Bank. Supporter numbers were down, facilities were awful and frankly it wasn’t a nice place to be. Toilets were more often than not a gutter behind the stands, and the threat of violence was always hanging in the air. Sure the old-school hooligans might reminisce about getting a couple of punches in on a cod head before four of them piled in, but for me that isn’t football. Genuinely my worst experience at a match was Grimsby away in 2007 because that night it was like the 1980’s. Police on horseback, ominous threats, outbreaks of sporadic violence, and constant war between stewards, police and fans.

I’m with those who agree football should not be sanitised completely, but you know why I think support dipped in the 1990s? Football stadiums became unhealthy places to be, full of fag smoke, racism and people punching each other. The young fans went, but not in the same numbers as today. The legacy wasn’t being built because parents didn’t pass supporting a football club on to their kids, it was too dangerous. In the 1980’s it was less dangerous to play football on the M25 at rush hour than it was attend a Lincoln and Grimsby game, and for that reason the kids of the 1980’s didn’t turn into fans of the 1990’s, not in large numbers anyway. The longevity of our football club is held by the kids in the city we see wearing Imps tops instead of Man Utd or Liverpool, and for them to keep coming and growing there has to be some control in the stands.

Until we officially have safe standing, our club and the 617 have come up with a compromise, one that I feel is threatened by the sense of entitlement other people have. Yes, it is frustrating that lower 7 is kept empty, but again there are regulations stipulating it must be kept so. I appreciate when we have the Stacey West it seems counter productive, but when Grimsby, Notts County or Coventry roll into town it is vital and compulsory. Besides, nobody has agreed that lower 7 is standing, and you won’t be able to just turn up and stand there. The 617 didn’t do that with the upper 7, it took negotiations and compromise. Don’t go ruining all of that just because you think you can do what you want.

We might be Lincoln City, and you might think we do what we want, but that attitude isn’t fair on every paying fan, and every single person who pays on the gate is just as entitled to a good match day experience as the next person. Some people prefer to sit, some people prefer to study the game, watch everything and enjoy it as a spectacle. Others want to get tanked up and bounce and sing, and that is fine too. The key is making sure you respect other people’s decisions. You may well find the concept of sitting down all game baffling, but there will be other, less aggressive fans, who find the concept of getting smashed and arguing with stewards just as absurd. If safe standing does come into force, I wouldn’t expect to be able to sit in the middle of it and force others to sit down. I wouldn’t expect to sit in block 7 now and be quiet trying to study the game, so please, don’t think that you’re entitled to stand up in block 5 and do what you want.  You’re not, it’s ignorant and as Lincoln fans I’d like to think we’re better than that.




  1. I am a moaner about £40 for the IFollow. But only because on the first day of the season it didn’t work. It was on and off. I am also a moaner because I pay that purely to listen to commentary only, knowing that those abroad get to see the whole game and those in Lincolnshire and near by get better commentary for free. Even the highlights on the phone that I thought were exclusive are available via Sky. I fully understand why this is as it is but as a UK based exile it is annoying there is more out there I can’t get without the VPN wizadry which I think may be illegal because it breaches the 3pm – 5pm saturday rule. Fully agree on the streaming feeds though, the EFL have put the money into the club and so we have their rules.

    • Yes and those who have paid are also forced to suffer Chris Ashton. It’s a very poor, unprofessional service, which doesn’t work half the time anyway.

      Why does it take an entire day to edit the highlights? It takes the BBC a couple of hours. I’ve worked in TV studios where rush edits are on screen within the hour.

      The club should take note that the unfair monopoly created by the EFL will drive people away.

  2. Well said Gary particularly with regard to the standing issue. No single subject pisses me off more than the deluded “we are Lincoln we will stand where we want”As you rightly point out it is not only against the terms of entry, but also shows a total disrespect of fellow fans. I had to stand for 90 minutes at Wycombe (with a bloke of about 6’6” immediately in front) when if everyone had sat they would have had a perfect view. There is also this nonsense that you get more atmosphere stood up – total bollocks, what stops fans singing and shouting just because they are sat down – extra pressure on their rectum? So basically sit down, but don’t shut up.

  3. Well there is one upside to iFollow being a bit crap. I managed to watch both of the Imps’ opening games live while on holiday in Spain after paying the £45 for radio commentary only. My top tip for Imps fans who are silly as I am to be booking holidays at this exciting time is to subscribe via the app on their phone while they are out of the country. All this small print about needing a foreign bank account and having to pay 130 euros is rubbish – they can’t filter it properly. Oh yes – and I turned the commentary OFF…

  4. Gary…..the “streaming” issue I understand,the League makes rules and we benefit financially as a Club,so no problem. But on the ifollow package,I presume it is an EFL initiative which again the Club will get some benefit,as a distance fan,I took the £45 ifollow package,didn’t work too well first two weeks,but do get the 10 minute highlights.
    What I would like to ask is the “offer” stated full match replays……I assumed this meant 90 minutes,uploaded well after the match finished….do you have any inside knowledge on what this was supposed to mean,as nothing other than 10 minute highlights seem available?
    Also,very sad that my saturday listening in with Michael and Steve have ended, I didn’t appreciate that this was another EFL issue,thought it was my lack of computer skills!
    Appreciate any advice on ifollow, all the best,Mick Webb

  5. Standing is becoming an increasing problem in the Co-op Stand – Block 7 and the 617 Sqn have traditionally stood – but that is starting to creep into Block 6 and a good quarter of Block 6 is standing, which is not good for old geezers like me and me mate who suffer with bad knees and hips – UIT

  6. I hope the guy who “sits” in the Co-op stand at the halfway line is reading the comments regarding standing. Off his head with drink, leaping out of his sit at the slightest incident, constantly hurling a torrent of abuse towards his target. You are spoiling the game for everyone else sat in the area. Your passion is admirable… But for everyone’s sake, including your own, please tone it down several notches. Cheers. We are all fans and we all want to enjoy the game. Thank you.

  7. Excellent and balanced piece as always.

    Regarding streaming and copyright infringement, this is certainly not new. In 2011 I uploaded to YouTube a few clips from games I had attended that season, and suddenly they were the subject of a copyright infringement claim from the English Football League and YouTube took them all down (and almost my account with them).

    To be honest, I’ve always felt it’s a missed marketing opportunity for the EFL. I don’t think anyone would think my videos, or fans live streaming the game from their phones, constituent a replacement for a paid viewing experience. But it does help to broaden the exposure of the club. But the rules are the rules…

    Regarding the commentary, I have paid for it for many years, including throughout the non-League years. In fact it was only in the last season I realised I had the option of multiple commentaries. Still, more often than not I chose Chris Ashton and co as I happen to enjoy his commentary (don’t get me wrong, I would usually go and find Michael Hortin’s breathless oratory for the key moments after the match as well). There are the occasional technical hitches, but at approx £1 per game I’m not exactly spending mega bucks on a bespoke service, I’m happy to give some grace. As an exile fan myself I can’t justify (or afford) to put money into the club though season tickets, but it was my little way of making sure I made a contribution (however small) to the club each season (along with the occasional shirt and away fixture).

    It’s not just us, either. I found myself a Ibrox for Rangers last home game last season, they had waves of stewards sweeping the stands looking at the fans, for what I assumed was any signs of copyright infringement. Sign of the times, I suppose.

  8. Feisty stuff, Gary. People who stand usually do so to the detriment of those who can’t/don’t want to/shouldn’t have to. It’s utterly selfish. End of.
    As to iFollow…..the opening day coverage was farcical. Having paid my money, I was less than pleased that I couldn’t listen to the Lincoln coverage for most of the game. Like Michael, I am also waiting to see the full match replays (Saturday’s game would have been exceptionally good value!)

  9. A couple of comments:

    1. There are always those who will find something to moan about and criticise.
    2. I would say it was the 1980s rather than the 1990s when support really dropped off – you only have to look at the attendances for the two years prior to dropping into the Conference first time around. Also some of the really poor attendances at the time we had a side challenging for promotion to the old Second Division in Colin Murphy’s time – mostly around the 4,000 mark, without checking.

    Re the full match replays on iFollow, it appears you need to click on ‘Match’ on the home page, then ‘Results’ from the drop down menu. Then:

    Match Report (e.g. for Wycombe)

    Then in the broad grey bar underneath the result and scorers there is ‘Watch Now’ – clicking on that gives you the full match (no commentary, though).

    • Hello Malcolm,
      many thanks for this information about ifollow……have now accessed this and sorted my evenings viewing for tonight. As a very computer phobic oap I would never have cracked this one!!
      all the best,and thanks again,Michael Webb

      • Hi Michael.
        Honesty compels me to admit I only found it myself by following someone else’s instruction on the Vital Lincoln City Forum.

  10. Very interesting article regarding streaming Gary and one which I have an interest in since I am one of those who can no longer follow live games via the Web anymore.
    Regarding match streaming, this happens at every live event these days for example pop concerts, music festivals, road traffic accidents! and will always happen there is a massive difference between a football match and the latest Hollywood blockbuster though. Social media and the immediacy that it brings is a massive part of younger people’s lives and it’s not going to go anywhere soon. I’m not sure the old grey men in suits who draw up the list of rules and regulations for everyone to follow understand this concept. They just have an obsession with wanting to protect what they see as “their product”

    Some of my gripe is with the top brass at the BBC who obviously thought that in these times of austerity and financial pressures from the government, that EFL live commentary was not worth paying a decent amount of money to hang on to. Of course Chris Evans’s and gary Lineker’s wallets must be fed first and those strictly contestants don’t come cheap either! It is only a matter of time before all sport coverage is lost to pay/premium channels.
    Restricting the area over which local radio can be heard in the Internet age is a retrograde step, but it’s something that the BBC been forced to do by the rules set by the deal done by EFL/talksport/ifollow. That Doesn’t mean those of us who disagree with this should just “cough up and shut up!” though.
    As a UK exile, I get down to Sincil Bank or watch city away as often as finances, time, family commitments allow and I know for a fact that live commentary at 3pm from tommo and hortin or watching a live feed from an iPhone 7 held by some kid in the co-op has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on which games I spend my hard earned on.

  11. Common sense all round. It’s not rocket science is it? No we don’t always like rules but if we all did what we wanted chaos would ensue!
    I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and my family didn’t ‘do’ football. My exposure to the game was via TV news bulletins of hooliganism. While I understand that probably wasn’t everywhere at every game, I had no reason to dip my toe in football waters until my son was old enough to see his local team LCFC.
    I took him on my own to a couple of games probably 6/7 years ago. It was cold, lonely and they didn’t play well – even I could tell.
    Did I feel sad that he championed MUFC and not his local team – yes – did I blame him- no.
    Last season my son now old enough to spread his wings and go to see football with his mates joined the excitement on the cusp of great things and his interest was infectious.
    I supported his interest – bank of mum- and joined him. I’ve never seen him so excited, free to release his feelings! He doesn’t ‘grunt’ at football!
    So back to where we were – don’t spoil things for other people – bullies do that. Don’t be surprised if your illegal or ‘rule’ bending/breaking attracts attention and sanction – you only have yourself to blame and it would be a shame if you couldn’t enjoy your team like the rest of us!
    PS congratulations to 617 on a successful March a great display of a city united. See what happens when a community (including the ‘authorities ‘ ) work together 😊

  12. re Grimsby away….. you might know someone who would ‘Facebook Live’ their FM radio at home ??? Never used Facebook Live myself but I presume it would work – placing a tablet/phone etc near a speaker?☺

  13. Great piece again Gary. I entirely agree with your comments re standing, there is to much of this “I’m all right jack, fuck you” philosophy about. I am only 5’6 and there are plenty of 6 footers in front Also yes We are Lincoln but we cannot do what we like. The sooner people realise that the better Rules are rules end of.

  14. Again a very well put together piece Gary. I also want to say that I took my 2 grandsons to Rotherham and because everyone was stood my 5 year old couldn’t see unless I held him up and believe me Gary he is as mad about lincoln as you and me, just very disappointed he couldn’t see all the game so probably won’t take him to away games again.

  15. Grimsby away we had a brick through our supporters coach window in ’69 or’70. IT’s being going on a long time.

    I won’t get to many home games so I enjoyed watching 25 mins of the second half on FB live on Saturday although we conceded within about 2 minutes of me starting to watch. I could see from the action that we were well on top and playing pretty well then we created an excellent equaliser. Sadly, the stream was cut off in the last 10 mins

    I’ve got iFollow but I can’t listen to audio commentary even if it’s available

  16. EFL/Neulion (the name on email enquries) will have invested a lot on the live TV feeds of every EFL match, so expecting participating clubs to clamp down on live Youtube streaming will be part and parcel of safeguarding that investment. Likewise, I suspect, they will be looking to close down VPN access though for me this is more contentious. I know why they don’t allow iFollow live video streams in the UK, but its an excessively conservative outlook, would it really have an adverse effect on gates if the pricing is right? It is a limited service compared with a live TV broadcast, single camera angle, no commentary. Clubs and EFL need to bolder and thereby fairer to those of us who can’t sacrifice a whole Saturday to the match.

    iFollow itself seems to be settling down, after the frustrations of the Wycombe match, Rotherham and Morecambe games were fine, occasional ‘buffering’ pauses and the equaliser on Saturday came up on Final Score before the commentary, but all internet streams are laggy, I had the same with Theo’s second at Ipswich. Agree with the majority of users re quality of commentary, Hortin and Thommo are much better and the summariser knows not to talk/yell over the commentary. I understand Chris Ashton is a lifelong committed supporter and legend in his dedication to the club, but please, Chris, I’ve paid for this, I have a right to be able to follow what’s going on, so shut up!!!

    • The “3pm Blackout” has been challenged in European court. Our FA rules state that between 2:45pm and 5:15pm on Saturday there can be no football televised from any league, with the exception of the fa cup final. The contest was that many leagues, Germand and Spain, for example don’t have the rules but don’t struggle for attendances. My argument would be that neither of those countries have such a strong lower league following. And I wonder how things would be attendance wise at Lincoln if every Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool game was available on tv at 3pm on a Saturday. I know the North West clubs like Bury would be in trouble. I know that we are talking about IFollow here but you have to start making a lot of exceptions with what you ban and don’t ban.

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