Cristiano Ronaldo's return: Why is Manchester United v Newcastle not on UK TV?

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Cristiano Ronaldo will make his debut in English football as Manchester United hosts Newcastle this weekend. However, the game won't be broadcast on UK TV.

BBC Radio 5 Live will provide full commentary from Old Trafford. This is the only place you can follow the game in the United Kingdom.

Due to a Uefa Blackout, games that start at 15:00 BST (like this one) cannot be shown live here in the UK.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals for United in 292 matches between 2003-2009

Because of the same law, the first 15 minutes of his Juventus debut 2018 - a win at Chievo by 3-2 - were not available to view in the UK.

Saturday afternoon blackout

Uefa rules permit countries to have a window of two and a half hours on weekends when games can't be broadcast live on television.

England's blackout is 14:45-17.15 BST

Sky Sports and BT Sport had the task of selecting which September games would be moved to TV on 5/7, long before anyone believed Ronaldo would re-join United at that time.

According to reports, both broadcasters decided not to try to change their TV selection at a late notice - even if that would have been possible.

It will be shown on television in other countries.

It is possible that the game will be shown in almost every country around the globe.

Premier League games can be viewed in 188 countries, and there are no reasons to not show them.

The UK blackout regulates broadcasts of games in the UK, including those from leagues other than the UK. It does not impact what other countries can show at the same time.

Premier Sports will broadcast the game live in Ireland.

What is the purpose of a blackout?

The blackout was implemented to encourage fans to attend English Football League or non-league games.

It is possible that casual fans won't attend games involving their local team if they can watch a Premier League match on TV.

Uefa Article 48 states: "The current regulations are designed so that spectators aren't deterred from attending local soccer matches of any type and/or participating... due to transmissions of football games which might create competition with those matches."

It was lifted at the end of 2019-20, when football resumed after Covid.

Fans are now allowed to enter games again, so the blackout is over.

This applies even to matches from other countries that are shown in the UK. Real Madrid v Barcelona has not been shown in the UK since it started at 15:15 BST.

This issue is not as severe in other countries because England has a set kickoff time, which is 3pm on Saturday.

For example, in La Liga, all games start at different times. In Germany, however, the lower leagues don't play at the same moment as the Bundesliga.

Is the rule likely to change in the near future?

Uefa states that "it is understood the main domestic fixture calendar... corresponds with the time when most [i.e. Uefa says "it is understood that the main domestic fixture schedule... corresponds to the time when the majority [i.e. 50%] of the weekly matches in the top or top 2 domestic leagues, or in the national cup(s), are played."

The blackout could be lifted if less than 11 Premier League and Championship matches were held on Saturdays at 3pm.

However, there could be resistance as lower-league clubs may lose money if they stop attracting casual fans.

Eleven Sports began broadcasting La Liga and Serie A games during the blackout in 2018, but it stopped shortly thereafter due to extreme pressure.

Shaun Harvey, then chairman of EFL, stated that Article 48 was created to protect the interests and the integrity of the game in the country. It's impossible to be both half in and half out.

"It is vital that 3pm protection be provided when Premier League or Football League games are being played.

"Radio is having its moment in the spotlight"

BBC Radio 5 Live will feature commentary by Ian Dennis, a BBC senior football reporter, and Chris Waddle, an ex-england winger.

Dennis stated, "It feels more as an occasion than a match with Ronaldo's returning and so much attention to the station."

"I'm just glad radio is getting its time in the spotlight. It is often second fiddle to television, and it is a refreshing change that we are now the envy of TV executives.

"I'm just excited to see Ronaldo again, he is someone that is captivating to watch on and off the pitch.

"People claim it's all about him. I think they are right Saturday; it will all be about him."