Leeds United are the biggest club in the Football League, of that there is little doubt.
Their hoards of fans follow them up and down the country, selling out away grounds every other week no matter what division they are in. It has been 18 years now since Leeds graced the Premier League, yet their support has barely dwindled with their loyal following sticking with them even when they were relegated to League One.
So perhaps it is no surprise that given all that, Sky Sports want to show the Whites more than any other side. In fact, last season they were shown on television a whopping 27 times out of 48 games, more than any other side outside the Premier League.
Understandably, the fans have been left frustrated at the changing kick-off times and many have voiced their displeasure and Rupert Murdoch’s company at Elland Road this season. Season ticket holder Andy Rhodes told The Sportsman:
“Some fans might think that being on TV week in, week out, is a blessing but it’s definitely a curse to Leeds fans. Not just having your travel plans but also your family and social plans away from football ruined by broadcasters takes its toll. Leeds are obviously a big commercial opportunity for broadcasters so the tendency is to think of the revenue rather than the fans.”
But now they may have a rival to take their unwanted television crown and it comes from the unlikely depth of League Two.
Ever since Gary Neville and the rest of the class of ‘92 took over at Salford City in 2014, there has been a real media interest in the fortunes of the Ammies. BBC One’s TV series ‘Out Of Their League’ followed the club’s progress in 2015 and the club have enjoyed a remarkable rise, going from the ninth tier to the Football League, with four promotions in five seasons.
With that money invested in the club, the average gates of 117 in 2012/13 have swelled to 2,509 last season and that figure is only going to increase this year with former Premier League teams like Bradford coming to town. It will be a 5,000 sell-out tonight at the Peninsula Stadium, the ground with the lowest capacity in the fourth tier but with Leeds coming to town in the League Cup, there will be no spare tickets knocking about.
On the opening weekend of the Football League, three Championship games were selected for Sky TV coverage, including Leeds. No League One games were shown yet one League Two game was featured, yep you guessed it, Salford’s home game against Stevenage.
It feels like this fixture tonight has simply been written in the stars for the television executives with their two favourite sides meeting on Tuesday night. Leeds have now had all three of their games this season on Sky TV and League Two Salford have been on twice.
Of course, it is not all negative for Leeds. Last season they earned more than £1million more than their rivals thanks to that extended television coverage and it also helps those fans who perhaps live overseas or are unable to make it to the games.