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A stream of consciousness

Monday, 16th of September 2013

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How did we look?

A corner of East Lancashire occupied the national stage for a couple of hours on Saturday lunchtime when Burnley’s local derby with Blackburn Rovers was screened live on Sky Sports.

The footballers put on a decent show in a highly watchable game which ended 1-1 with honours even for the third time in succession.

Again Burnley will have felt most aggrieved.
The Clarets scored a cracking goal, but after conceding a late equaliser for the second meeting in a row saw their hopes of beating their great rivals for the first time in 34 years put on ice for a few more months at least.

But what about the bigger picture and the perception of the occasion to a national audience?

Burnley was recently named the most enterprising area of the UK by the Government and those behind efforts to improve its economic prospects deserve enormous praise.

As a town it’s had a tough time – and Blackburn is no different.

And the harsh economies were there for everyone to see in the size of the crowd at Turf Moor.

The attendance of 15,699 was the lowest since the derby ended a 17-year absence from the fixture list in 2,000 and almost 6,000 down on last season’s corresponding game. 

The drop can largely be attributed to the fact that the game was shown live on television.

That hasn’t been the case in recent years and fans have forked out for the ‘must-see’ match of the season.

But as familiarity breeds even more contempt – the teams have now played each other five times since 2009 – thousands took the option of watching the latest instalment at home or on licensed premises and keeping their money in their pocket.

Figures released by the BBC last week showed that average ticket prices are dropping, but watching live football is still very expensive.

Like most clubs, Burnley were caught in the catch-22 situation of trying to maximise income from their biggest game of the season (one of two gold category games they have scheduled) and keeping it affordable.

The television revenue will have plugged the financial gap left by the empty seats.

But in terms of showing a wider audience that Burnley is a club and a place on the up, the Clarets may need new tactics the next time the derby is in town.

Pete

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