The Saturday 3pm blackout affecting Arsenal, Spurs and more is here to stay - let's make the best of it

The Premier League has agreed a new TV rights deal that will run until 2029.
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Blackouts don't have to be a bad thing. It is, after all, in absolute darkness where many a seed begins to germinate into something much grander, something undeniable. In other words, being in the shade is okay, as long as you can use it as a platform to one day command a share of the light.

Philosophically-posed horticulture aside, the Premier League agreed a new television rights package earlier this week, selling the broadcasting permission to 270 live games a season to the tune of £6.7 million over the next six years. It is, as the smug press releases have been quick to remind us, the 'largest sports media rights deal ever concluded in the UK'. Yippee.

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Naturally, the announcement of said agreement has sparked a whole new chapter in the debate over when and whether certain weekend fixtures should be available to (legally) watch on this battered little rock we call home. As you will be painfully aware by now, there is an effective 3pm blackout in place on Saturday afternoons all across the country, preventing football fans from (again, legally) viewing any match that happens to kick off at that time.

This is a subject of much soreness for supporters and governing bodies alike, who often clash over the wisdom that upholds the blanket ban like a herd of vexed giraffes, swinging their necks back and forth until everybody involved has a bit of a headache. Some argue that a lack of football on television at this time encourages people to actually go to matches, thus financially aiding the lower league. Research on the continent, where no such prohibition exists, seems to suggest that the evidence supporting that school of thought is flimsy at best. Others would argue that the irresistible rise of the VPN has rendered the whole endeavour moot anyways.

But the reality is that no matter where you stand on the spectrum of discourse, things aren't going to change - or not for the next six years, at least. The blackout is locked and loaded until 2029, and quite aside from the disservice it does to the vast majority of fans and the ludicrous expenditure of it all - I maintain that with a brigade of interns and a few camcorders I could provide a near-identical viewing experience for a fraction of the cost - this is an inconvenience that we will just have to endure.

Or, hear me out, we can make the best of it. Because while the ban affects the men's footballing pyramid, it has no bearing whatsoever on the Women's Super League. The pitch, therefore, is a simple one - start broadcasting WSL matches on major channels during the Saturday afternoon lull.

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It feels, certainly from the outside, like a no-brainer; supporters still have a viewing option to while away the hours before the comforting swaddle of dusk, the relevant executives have an extra prime time product they can stuff to the gills with morally dubious betting adverts, and a division that is in the midst of a rapid upturn in admiration gets more eyeballs on it, rather than being relegated to a perfunctory slot where it has to compete with the dual threats of David Attenborough and a looming case of the collective Sunday Scaries.

Maybe then, just maybe, in the otherwise enforced gloom of a blackout, the WSL can begin to thrive and grow even more than it currently is. Surely, it has to be worth a try.

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