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Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Exeter Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of the CEO

15 August 2023

Andrew Cullen
Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Exeter Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of the CEO

15 August 2023

Welcome to tonight’s Sky Bet League One fixture, including to our visitors Exeter City. They have made an excellent start to the new campaign, winning away at Wycombe on the opening day and holding one of the favourites for promotion, Blackpool, to a draw on Saturday.

Thank you to all who made the trips last week to Forest Green and then Leyton Orient. With 10 changes to the starting line-up in the first of those fixtures following the draw with Bristol Rovers, it was exciting to see a seamless continuation of team identity and style with different players. The result and the performance underlined the strong competition for starting places. Congratulations to Koby Mottoh, who became the latest graduate from the academy to make a first team debut – and at the age of just 16.

We were naturally delighted with Saturday’s result against the reigning League Two champions, but as John stated after the game, there is still plenty of room for improvement if we are to sustain a challenge throughout a long season.

We are thrilled to have Sky Sports here this evening for their first League One live broadcast of the new campaign. The presence of their cameras provides a perfect opportunity to look ahead to the new five-year broadcast deal signed in the summer by the EFL and Sky. This will commence from July 2024 and I thought it might be helpful to explain a little more about what this will mean for our supporters.

Firstly, the EFL should be congratulated for their considered, thoughtful and strategic approach to the tendering process and delivering a 50 per cent increase in financial value in challenging economic conditions. Naturally, and given the League’s distribution formula, the biggest winners are Championship clubs. This all means the financial rewards for promotion from our division are now substantially greater than ever before.

From next season, the main fixtures will be positioned on Sky’s premium channels, alongside the Premier League, Formula One and Test cricket. This fully recognises the appeal of the EFL to both live audiences and TV viewers, compared to second tier league competitions in other countries. The new deal will also see the iFollow platform for domestic viewers replaced by the introduction of a dedicated app on the Sky Sports platform. This will see the number of fixtures broadcast increasing from 243 to 1,059.

The main channels will show 20-38 games per season from Leagues One and Two, along with 118 from the Championship (currently 110). But the new app will allow subscribers to access their team’s opening and closing weekend games, as well as all scheduled midweek matches. All Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Easter fixtures will be shown, together with any from Leagues One and Two played during FIFA international breaks.

The biggest change will see two matches from each division on Saturdays screened on the app at 12.30pm and 5.30pm. The EFL have agreed with Sky that there will be a significant longer notice period regarding any games being screened, assisting supporters in planning their travel and other arrangements. Furthermore, we have been told that no club between August and January will be selected more than four times at home and in any five-match sequence, no more than three games will be televised – either home or away.

There was some initial consideration to scrapping UEFA’s Article 48 rule, which prevents any game being screened between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturdays, but we are pleased that the commitment to keeping this has been retained, which will go a long way towards protecting live attendances throughout the pyramid.

For our international subscribers and for those in the UK who rely on audio coverage, the existing iFollow services will all remain in place. Some of the detail is still to be worked out and we will keep you all informed as and when we receive further information from both the EFL and Sky.

We are pleased to have David Williams, the CEO of Portsmouth City Council, with us this evening as our special guest. He steps down next month from a role which has spanned 17 years. David has been hugely supportive of the club throughout his long tenure, not least during the crisis years of administration, and has provided us with valued counsel and guidance regarding several different initiatives. We are all grateful for this backing over many years and we wish David and his family every happiness for the future.

Finally, the club concluded a new partnership over the summer with Wightlink, who have supported the academy since 2007. As part of the discussions, we are now delighted to confirm that they have agreed to provide a much later service for those supporters who travel back to the Isle of Wight after evening matches, with the last service now departing at 10.45pm. I know the previous ferry times, which left prior to the final whistle, had been a huge cause of frustration for those on the island. I am pleased we have all been able to work together to deliver this improvement for our supporters who live and work there.

We are back at Fratton Park on Saturday for another League One fixture against Cheltenham Town and then next Tuesday, we host Fulham U21s here in our first EFL Trophy group match. There are special discounted prices for the latter game for juniors, something we hope many families will take advantage of during the school holidays.

Thank you very much for your support this evening and enjoy the game. PUP!

Andrew Cullen
Chief Executive


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