‘No bigger than Songs of Praise’: the early days of live league football on TV

‘No bigger than Songs of Praise’: the early days of live league football on TV

Tottenham host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League this weekend. Their game 40 years ago changed the sport forever

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

It was a move that divided opinion. When news broke in the summer of 1983 that Division One matches would be shown live on BBC and ITV, there was more anxiety than expectation. The £5.2m deal gave the channels five league matches each, although the BBC only covered four due to a technicians’ strike. There was no chance of over-exposure during the first full season of live coverage, but the relationship between the national game and television would change the sport forever.

ITV had shown the only live league match before, a fixture between Blackpool and Bolton in 1960, but on Sunday 2 October 1983, the televised football revolution began in earnest. Tottenham v Nottingham Forest was the point of no return.

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