Cristiano Ronaldo is due to make his return to English football this weekend as Manchester United host Newcastle – but the game will not be on UK TV.
The only place to follow the game fully in the United Kingdom will be on BBC Radio 5 Live, who have full commentary from Old Trafford.
Games which kick off at 15:00 BST – like this one – cannot be shown live in the UK because of a Uefa blackout.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 games for United between 2003 and 2009.
The first 15 minutes of his Juventus debut in 2018 – a 3-2 win at Chievo – was also unavailable to watch in the UK because of the same law.
Saturday afternoon blackout
Uefa rules allow countries to have a two-and-a-half-hour window on a weekend when games cannot be shown live on TV.
England has 14:45-17:15 BST as its blackout.
Sky Sports and BT Sport had to pick which September games would be moved for TV on 5 July – long before anyone thought Ronaldo would re-join United on deadline day.
Both broadcasters reportedly decided against trying to change their TV pick at late notice – if it would even have been possible to do so.
Will it be on TV in other countries?
The game is likely to be screened in nearly every country in the world.
Premier League games are broadcast in 188 countries – and for most of them there is no reason not to show the game.
The UK blackout governs games being broadcast in the UK – including ones from leagues outside the UK – and does not affect what other countries can show at that time.
That means the game will be broadcast live in the Republic of Ireland on Premier Sports.
Why is there a blackout?
The reason for the blackout is to encourage fans to attend English Football League and non-league games.
The theory is casual fans might not attend a game involving their local club if they could be watching a Premier League match on TV instead.
Uefa article 48 says: “The present regulations are designed to ensure that spectators are not deterred from attending local football matches of any kind and/or participating in matches… on account of transmissions of football matches which may create competition with these matches.”
It was lifted for the end of 2019-20 when football restarted after Covid, and for last season, because fans were not allowed to attend games for the most part.
But with fans now allowed back into games the blackout has returned.
It also applies to foreign matches being shown in the UK. Barcelona v Real Madrid has not been available to watch in the UK more than once as it kicked off at 15:15 BST.
The issue does not affect other countries as much because England is one of the few nations with a set kick-off time – 3pm on a Saturday.
In La Liga, for example, all the games kick off at different times and in Germany, the lower leagues do not play at the same time as the Bundesliga.
Could the rule change in the future?
Uefa says “it is understood that the main domestic fixture schedule… corresponds to the time when the majority [i.e. 50% or more] of the weekly football matches in the top or top two domestic leagues or in the national cup(s) in the country are played”.
So if fewer than 11 Premier League or Championship matches took place on a Saturday at 3pm, the blackout could be lifted.
But there would be resistance to this, with lower-league clubs potentially losing out on money if they stopped attracting casual fans to games.
In 2018, Eleven Sports started broadcasting Serie A and La Liga games during the blackout but stopped shortly afterwards following extreme pressure.
Then EFL chairman Shaun Harvey said: “The origins of Article 48 were to protect the interests of the game in this country as a whole. You can’t be half in or half out.
“The 3pm protection when Premier League and Football League games are being played is absolutely vital.”
‘Radio has its moment in the spotlight’
BBC senior football reporter Ian Dennis and former England winger Chris Waddle will do the commentary for BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It feels more like an occasion than a football match with Ronaldo’s return and so much attention on the station,” Dennis said.
“I am just pleased radio has got its moment in the spotlight. We play second fiddle to TV a lot of the time and the fact we are the envy of the TV executives makes a pleasant change.
“I am just excited to be watching Ronaldo again because he is someone who is captivating to watch, both on and off the pitch.
“People say it is all about him, I think Saturday they are absolutely bang on; it will be all about him.”