Virus: 3pm football games could be shown free-to-view

The Saturday 3pm football blackout could be temporarily lifted as part of social distancing measures relating to the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

According to The Times, the FA could suspend current rules, enabling broadcasters to screen 3pm games on TV, allowing fans to watch from home while the stadiums are kept clear of spectators.

Current rights holders BT Sport and Sky Sports would be allowed to show the Saturday afternoon games (which aren't normally allowed to be shown in the UK, but which do get shown in other countries) to UK fans on a free-to-view basis.

To stop fans gathering in pubs and social clubs to watch the matches, the pub feeds of the channels would be blocked.

Commercial premises are routinely monitored to ensure they are tuned to the version of the channels containing an on-screen pint glass symbol, rather than the domestic feeds for home users, which would be showing the extra games.

Additionally, games from the lower leagues could be shown on the EFL iFollow streaming service.

Earlier this week, organisers of sports events met with Government officials to discuss possible contingency measures to curtail gatherings of large numbers of people.