London’s non-league football clubs could shift to earlier kick-off times this season in a bid to save on costs as energy prices soar through the winter.
Energy regulator Ofcom announced this morning that its price cap will rise to £3,549 a year for a typical household from October 1 and organisations such as sports clubs are also facing huge surges in the cost of their bills.
Clubs playing in the Isthmian Football League, in the seventh and eighth tiers of the English football pyramid, have been given permission to deviate from the traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off this term, so long as both teams agree to the move.
Kicking off at 12:30pm would allow clubs to complete matches within winter daylight hours, while even moving fixtures forward an hour to 2pm would significantly reduce clubs’ dependence on floodlights during the darker months.
There are currently seven London-based clubs playing in the Isthmian Premier Division, including Cray Wanderers, who play their home games in Bromley.
“It is an uncertain time,” club CEO Sam Wright told the BBC. “I think it is an innovative move to consider [the move].”
Clubs are still set to be stung by high energy prices given the use of floodlights is a necessity for midweek evening fixtures, but there could be additional economic benefits to kicking off early on Saturdays, with fewer clashes with Premier League games potentially boosting attendances.
A 12:30pm start time would also allow clubs the chance to stream matches online. Currently, English football’s 3pm blackout rule prevents live matches being broadcast between 2:45pm and 5:15pm on Saturdays in a bid to protect lower-league attendances.