What's New In The 2018/19 Football Season & How Can You Best Prepare For It?
By Kyle Fullerton
August 22, 2018

If you’ve watched the first 2 weekends of the 18/19 Premier League season you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has really changed; Man City look like they’re going to walk the league again, Mo Salah is still banging them in and Jose Mourinho’s Man United still seem a week away from meltdown. But rest assured, there definitely are changes in the coming weeks of the new season and MatchPint have highlighted the biggest ones for pubs along with recommendations on how to be best prepared for each one.


More Saturday Night Kick Offs


In a bid to get as much Premier League action televised as possible, the 7:45 pm Saturday night time kick-off time is going to become more frequent this season. While there’s no official statement on the exact number, it’s said to be more than last season (two) but less than next season’s eight time slots.


What does this mean for pubs? Last year’s 2 games are too small a sample size to tell, but MatchPint data shows that Friday night games average 7% more searches than Sunday fixtures and expect search behaviour to be very similar for Saturday evenings. If you also look at the other large sporting events on Saturday nights, boxing, MatchPint has found that customers spend more than 15% than the average visit to the pub on normal Premier League visits.


If you are going to show the game, be very early and very clear with your advertising with what sort of experience you’re going to offer. If you’re going to have no sound because you also have a band in/music on, be transparent with fans as it’s better to lose a fan for one game than have them come to your pub and have a bad experience versus what they were expecting, and lose them as a customer forever.



New Champions League Kick Off Times


Following the theme of getting as much action televised as possible, UEFA have also made a change to their kick off times, introducing a 5:55pm & 8pm kick off times for this season’s Champions League. While the details on how the 8 fixtures each night will be split across the 2 time slots aren’t concrete, it is confirmed that there’ll be at least 1 game in each slot, each week.



Increasing screen time from 19:45 – 21:30 to 17:55 to 21:45 is great news for pubs for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it helps in the battle against the sofa as there’s now more of a reason for fans to go to the pub straight from work to catch the first game rather than go home first/not go to the pub at all because the wait for kick off is too long.


Secondly, MatchPint and CGA found that 73% of fans said they’d watch English teams in the Champions League versus 49% that would watch non-English team. With the opportunity for there to be more English teams playing (and not clashing with another English team), it again should be seen as a hugely positive change for the on-trade.


To cash in on the biggest opportunity that this season presents, it’s crucial to get as many punters in as possible for that 6pm kick off. The data suggests that it shouldn’t be too difficult if it’s two English teams playing, but for those non-English fixtures it is the perfect time to look to use a food promotion. A burger and a beer for £10, for example, gets people there straight from work and spending all 4 hours in your pub with no reason to go elsewhere



Don’t Get Caught Out By Channel Changes and New Competitions



After a summer of unbelievable international football, the interest in watching national teams and international leagues should be higher than ever. With this in mind, there are two key bits of info you need to know.


 This season brings the introduction of the UEFA Nations League, a new competitive format for international friendlies which sees the home nations all play games against teams ranked at the same level as them.


You don’t need us to remind you how big the World Cup was this summer, so riding that wave of national euphoria in these first few Nations League matches could drive real incremental revenue compared to the previous years’ friendlies. We recommend that you treat these games just like a World Cup fixture, get the bunting out, kit your staff out in home nations shirts and try and recreate that great atmosphere from the summer.


The second big change is that both Spain and Italy’s top division matches are currently not available on UK TV. Eleven Sports have bought the rights to La Liga and Serie A (the new home of Cristiano Ronaldo) and are currently only making the game available through their online streaming platform – that pubs are legally not allowed to show yet.


There’s yet to be an official comment on how the on-trade can show Eleven Sports, but we recommend that you keep your ear close to the ground for an announcement. MatchPint data shows that both La Liga and Serie A fixtures had more demand from fans relative to the number of pubs showing it compared to the Premier League, so there’s a true audience for these games. If you do choose to invest in Eleven Sports’ offering, whatever that may be, it’ll give you a true unique selling point compared to most other sports pubs.



Other Key Bits To Know



- You can now access ALL midweek Championship fixtures by clicking the red button on Sky Sports at no extra cost.


- BT Sport Premier League fixtures have changed from the 12:30 slot on a Saturday to 17:30 on a Saturday.


- Despite the media storm created by Amazon securing the rights to some Premier League football recently, that deal doesn't come in until NEXT season (2019/20).



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