UEFA have announced that they are planning on having earlier kick-offs in the UEFA Champions League from 2018, in a bid to increase international viewership
Football supporters are set for a change in their TV habits, as UEFA have announced plans for Champions League fixtures to have two separate kick-off times from 2018 in a bid to allow ‘fans opportunities to watch more matches’.
Ties in Europe’s premier club competition currently start at 7.45pm UK time, but that is set to change from 2018-19 onwards. Games will instead begin at 6pm and 8pm UK time, which European football’s governing body believes will help boost their international viewing figures.
There will be two matches played in the earlier slot and six in the later one over two days per matchweek during the group stages.
UEFA, who announced the plans on Friday at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, feel it will give fans more chances to ‘watch more matches’. They also believe it will be more in-keeping with their second tier competition, the Europa League, which already has earlier kick-0ffs.
In a statement at their press conference, UEFA said :
‘For the upcoming cycle, it was also decided to have two separate kick-off times in the UEFA Champions League, at 19.00CET (18.00 GMT) (two matches) and 21.00CET (20.00 GMT) (six matches), allowing fans opportunities to watch more matches,’ UEFA said, according to the Daily Mail
The new kick-off times will continue until the end of the 2021 season when it will then be decided whether to stick with these timings or change them once again, based on the viewership figures from the previous seasons.
The news will come as a source of relief to Asian viewers, who are forced to stay up late in order to catch European games during the week. This might cause some frustration for locals, however, who will need to change their plans in order to travel to stadiums for the games.
At the same press conference, UEFA also announced that the Europa League final for the 2017-18 season will be at Lyon’s Stade des Lumieres. The Olympic Stadium in Kiev has already been chosen as the host for the Champions League final next season.