In case you were under any illusion that television broadcasters don't set the Premier League schedule, one major change will be coming to the fixture list starting in 2016/17: Friday night football. It's a move that will be a major component of the new television rights deal set to begin in two years time once the current combined multi-billion dollar deals expire.
With matches already taking place on Monday nights, it was probably only a matter of time before the league sought to capitalise on the other evening that bookends the weekend. Up to 10 matches will be played on Friday nights over the course of the season, bringing the number of live matches broadcast up to 44% from the current 41%. The hallowed 3pm Saturday kick-off will continue to remain under a broadcast blackout with the new deal.
It's a move that isn't necessarily unprecedented, as top flight football was broadcast live on Friday evenings in the 1980s in England on BBC and ITV. More recently, the Bundesliga has been broadcasting matches regularly on Friday evenings, with each new season kicking off on a Friday in August with the reigning league champions' first match.
For Liverpool, the potential for Friday night matches would seem high in a season without mid-week European entanglements. Lack of mid-week matches plus still being a big television draw in general makes it seem likely that broadcasters would prioritise ensuring that the Merseyside club feature during one of those Friday night slots as opposed to, say, a glamorous tie between West Brom and Stoke. It's something the club already experience when broadcasters set their line-ups and a Saturday 3pm kick off suddenly becomes a 12:30pm kick-off so that it can be shown on TV.
Increased access to Liverpool matches is no doubt a good thing, especially for English fans shut out by the traditional blackout period, but the obvious cash grab of the plan is likely to ruffle a few feathers here and there amongst traditionalists or people who actually go out on Friday night. Still, with Friday currently existing as the only night off from football across all competitions, the league has finally run out of days to sell to broadcasters and will need to get creative on the next rights deal that begins after the one starting in 2016.