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There are 87 live games on British TV this week. Too much of a good thing? | Sean Ingle

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Showing Premier League and European midweek matches live causes a dip in attendances that hits smaller clubs’ revenues

During the early 1980s, when English football began its slow-shuffle towards showing one live game a week, the Guardian’s venerable correspondent David Lacey warned of the potential consequences. In a column titled “The death threat of live television”, Lacey predicted: “Matches shown on the small screen, warts and all, far from stimulating interest, would be more likely to have the opposite effect,” and suggested: “A televised match would become the complete alternative to paying to watch football and more fans than ever would have reason to stay away.”

Lacey was far from alone. Years before the dawn of the Premier League Brian Clough thought too much live TV would kill football. And, indeed, as far back as 1931 the BBC stopped radio broadcasts of Football League games because of fears they were damaging attendances.

Related: Fans forced to pay more as Eleven Sports and Amazon add to TV rights jumble | Martha Kelner

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