Sport for the People

16 Mar 2024
Photograph showing three people from behind, the person on the left has his hands in the air, the people are watching a football match on TV, the match is out of focus.

The Lionesses winning Euro 2022. Sir Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. The London Olympics’ Super Saturday.

Great sporting moments bring us together. Millions of people glued to their TVs, gripping the edge of the sofa.

But increasingly, sport is shut off and hidden from view, only broadcast on pay-to-view channels.

While certain sporting events like the Men’s and Women’s FIFA World Cups, the Olympics  and the Paralympics are protected for free-to-air broadcasting, too many iconic events like the Ashes and the Six Nations are not.

Women’s sport

In 2022, the average viewing time per person for women's sports more than doubled and the number of people watching domestic women's sports has grown to 33 million.

More than 17 million of us watched Chloe Kelly’s winner in July 2022. And last year, we tuned in again to watch the Lionesses’ journey to the final.

But the list of events protected for free-to-air broadcasting is skewed towards men’s events. Expanding the list of protected events to include more women’s sports increases exposure and breaks down gender barriers.


Football, in particular, holds a special place in the hearts of so many of us. And it remains the most popular sport in the UK.

This season, not a single English Premier League football game will be aired live on free-to-air channels. And it’s the same for the lower leagues (though maybe it’s for the best I don’t get to watch Rovers grind out yet another draw) and the Scottish Premiership.

With matches split between multiple pay-to-view providers, fans are left to fork out £870 a year in subscriptions  to Sky Sports, TNT Sports and Amazon Prime Video if they want to see premier league games.  That’s 50% more than the average season ticket.

Giving sport back to the people

We need to tear down the paywall and give sports back to the country. Greedy broadcasters are ripping off fans and preventing young boys and girls from being inspired to take up the sport.

That’s why today, Liberal Democrats have passed new policy to increase the availability of sport on free-to-air TV.

  • Review the list of sporting fixtures which must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels to include: 
    • At least 10 Premier League matches  and 10 Scottish Premiership matches every season
    • At least 20 games from the English Football League  and 10 from the Scottish Championship
    • The men’s and women’s Six Nations
    • The Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup
    • The England men’s Ashes Test at Lords, and the England women’s Ashes fixture at Lords
    • At least one cricket test match and one day international per summer
    • The entirety of the Wimbledon Championships
  • Ensure that the list of women’s sporting fixtures made available to free-to-air channels mirrors men’s.
  • Maintain protections for key national sporting events, such as the Summer and Winter Olympics and Paralympic games.
  • Ensure more disability sports are televised.
  • Provide councils with support to enhance community sporting facilities.

The Government is missing an open goal by failing to protect more of the treasured sporting events which bring people together. Liberal Democrats will give sport back to the people.




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