A new overseas broadcast platform announced by the EFL means that from next season, fans of Championship, League One and League Two clubs who live outside the UK and Ireland will be able to watch every single moment of their favourite team in action.
iFollow, as the platform is called, will be made available through the club website and will give fans the chance to watch every game of their team’s season, unless that match has been selected by the EFL’s overseas broadcast partners.
“Conservative estimates suggest there are 270,000 fans of EFL clubs living outside the UK,” said Drew Barrand, the ELF’s Marketing Director.
“55 per cent of them are located in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which suggests a significant expat presence.
"In the main these are people who formed their club affiliation when they lived in this country.”
Such fans will pay the equivalent of £110 for a season pass to the service, which will provide coverage of up to 46 live games per club, which gives the overseas fan far greater access to broadcast coverage than those in the home market.
“It is an amazing offer,” said Barrand. “With the domestic market there is always the delicate balancing act of live attendance against broadcast revenue. For the overseas market this is not an issue.”
The EFL is anticipating significant take-up. “This is the first significant new revenue stream we have introduced in a generation,” said Barrand. “And we expect it to be a multi-million pound market.”
Since the overseas armchair follower will access the package via the club website, it will be a simple matter to ascertain which clubs are most popular and to distribute the revenue accordingly.
But the EFL’s Chief Executive Shaun Harvey believes the widespread availability of live broadcast access will significantly increase reach and thus bring in a new generation of supporters beyond the expat market.
“iFollow will also present the EFL with an important opportunity to stimulate the interest of new groups of supporters who follow our clubs overseas,” Harvey said.
“Which in turn will help support the growth of our competitions on the international stage.”
The service will be available for all EFL member clubs from August this year.