The Newcastle United sell-out, set to be Leeds United’s first capacity crowd in six years is an interesting case study in the effect televised fixtures have on gate receipts. I’ve long been of the opinion that if the football is good enough, the numbers take care of themselves. I’d argue that, far from being the effect of constantly televised fixtures, Leeds’ middling attendances have been as much a result of chaotic ownership, poor football, absurd pricing and twelve years outside the top flight.

Nowadays, sports fans can follow the latest games on the web. Even without a pay TV subscription, it isn’t difficult to find a live video stream for most games and while that might not be wholly legal, there’s no shortage of people doing it. Yet overall, attendances are on the up.

Massimo Cellino tried to argue Sky Sports’ coverage was having a negative effect on Leeds’ attendances, but he struggled to quantify It because what effect live coverage has is impossible to separate from poor scheduling (Tuesday nights for example), poor form, pricing and/or off-field troubles. If fans aren’t feeling particularly excited about their club’s prospects, it stands to reason that fewer will attend.

But elsewhere, attendances are booming, not least in the English Premier League – probably the most televised football league on earth – where several teams have increased their capacity in recent years to capitalise on demand and what that tells us is, more than ever before, people still want the live experience when you offer them something to be excited about. And that’s despite many of them subscribing to the channels their team is broadcast on.

In the same way that live coverage on BBC hasn’t affected Glastonbury ticket sales, live coverage of sport doesn’t provide the same experience that attending it in person does, and for that reason, there’ll always be demand for tickets. In many cases, people attend live events having seen it on TV first. Glastonbury is a good example of that, constantly increasing capacity, only to sell out in minutes, as more and more people see what’s on offer and want to experience it themselves. And the same thing is happening in the Premier League. The more exposure it gets, the more demand there is.

With improving football providing faint hope for our long-awaited resurgence and a match-up against a decent side in Newcastle United, I don’t think anyone was surprised to see tickets flying out of the door. But they did so despite TV coverage, high pricing and a rescheduled kick-off, because all of that is secondary to entertainment value.

Now I’m not going to argue that a fixture rescheduled for a night time, midweek kick-off after being chosen for live TV coverage isn’t going to take a hit (and nor would Sky, they compensate each team per game televised for that reason). But the problem is the rescheduling, not the live broadcast. The fact is, people have jobs to go to the next day and standing in Elland Road on a freezing cold, November night isn’t as easy to stomach as a 3pm fixture on a Saturday. There’s no denying that in this example, some people would choose to save their £30+ and sit at home watching the game with the central heating on. But those same people are easily swayed by other factors too. A decent run of form makes the Sky option less desirable, as does cheaper ticket prices and decent opposition.

If I had my way, EVERY game would be televised at 3pm on a Saturday. The club’s could sell TV season ticket packages to their fans, increasing revenues across the board. Plus as we’ve already established, people WANT the live experience, so even those who choose to buy a TV season ticket would undoubtedly go to a few games in person.

The point of all this is that Massimo Cellino was wrong. As was Ken Bates before him and every other chairman who’s chosen to lash out at TV companies for broadcasting their team when things aren’t going so well and they’re trying to charge extortionate amounts to fans.

What really effects attendance is the quality of entertainment on offer. Everything else is secondary to that. You don’t hear UEFA moaning about domestic fixtures forcing them to schedule their Champions League competition in midweek, because they could play it at 3am on a Tuesday morning and people would still attend. I’ve been beating the same drum for so many years now, I’m bored of saying it, but improving things on the pitch, improves everything else. A football club has to be about successful football above all else and while that seems (and is) incredibly obvious, it doesn’t seem to register with those who take ownership of Leeds United. Let’s hope the Newcastle sell-out is the slap in the face our latest owner required.

On and on…