Wrexham write to all National League clubs with bold plan to stream matches IMMEDIATELY

Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds says the National League needs it's own streaming service


Shaun Harvey, strategic advisor to Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney at Wrexham, has written to all National League clubs with a bold proposal to get streaming in the division off the ground with immediate effect. 

Wrexham co-owner Reynolds criticised the National League on Monday to his 20 million social media followers for its ‘truly baffling’ failure to consider allowing clubs to stream live matches domestically and internationally.

In response the National League revealed they will submit proposals for a ‘fully tested’ centralised streaming platform.

Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds says the National League needs it's own streaming service

Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds says the National League needs it’s own streaming service

The National League has promised to provide a proposal for a centralised streaming service

The National League has promised to provide a proposal for a centralised streaming service

But, in a memo sent to the other 23 National League clubs, which has been seen by Sportsmail, Harvey has laid out an ‘interim proposal’ for teams to stream domestically and internationally immediately, with concerns the League’s own plan will take months to formulate. 

The proposal that Harvey is looking for other member clubs to throw support behind is for home teams to have the option to stream matches with immediate effect.

Under the proposal, domestic fans would pay a £10 match pass while international fans would get the stream free of charge, in a bid to ensure Wrexham do not ‘gain financially’ on other sides given their increased exposure in light of their recent Disney+ documentary, Welcome to Wrexham. 

Wrexham are also proposing to contribute 100 per cent of profit made from the streaming of each match to the National League, ‘for distribution or allocation, as they feel appropriate.’

Shaun Harvey (pictured in 2017) is a strategic advisor to Reynolds and Rob McElhenney at Wrexham and he has written to all National League teams with a plan to stream domestically and internationally immediately

Shaun Harvey (pictured in 2017) is a strategic advisor to Reynolds and Rob McElhenney at Wrexham and he has written to all National League teams with a plan to stream domestically and internationally immediately

Sportsmail understands the issue of streaming does have support across the division but some member clubs are reluctant to see gate receipts drop significantly should every match be available.  

To combat this the interim proposal in the memo details that home teams can ‘at their discretion’ choose not to stream a select match should they fear a significant impact on the crowd. 

As things stand, BT Sport’s broadcast rights deal with the National League is an overarching agreement that controls the release of highlights from clubs as well as the inability, at present, to stream matches. 

That deal is due for expiry at the end of the 2023-24 season and streaming is viewed as a way to add competition to a marketplace that has been dominated by BT in this ongoing rights cycle. 

Since Reynolds’ social media posts detailing frustration at the inability to stream Wrexham’s match against Gateshead on Tuesday night, which the Dragons won 3-1, the league has been pushed to provide an answer for the future. 

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In a statement on Wednesday, the League said: ‘Firstly, it is important to remember that we already have a broadcast partner, in BT Sports, who currently have the contractual rights to all National League games in a deal that has served the whole League and all its 72 clubs well.

‘BT are keen to work with the National League to support opportunities for our clubs to generate extra income, as they did during the Covid pandemic, in the form of streaming.

Actors McElhenney and Reynolds took over Wrexham in February 2021 and have just released a documentary, Welcome to Wrexham, which has led to lots of new fans in the United States

Actors McElhenney and Reynolds took over Wrexham in February 2021 and have just released a documentary, Welcome to Wrexham, which has led to lots of new fans in the United States

‘We have been working intensely for some months to finalise a proposal to launch a centralised, fully tested Vanarama National League streaming platform. This proposal goes to the board for consideration at their meeting on 15th September.

‘The proposal will recognise that we must respect and protect the status of the League and also BT Sport’s high production values and ensuring an approach which guarantees quality of service and the needs of all our clubs and their fans.’

Harvey details in his memo to clubs that the length of time the National League will take to finalise a proposal for a centralised system is yet to be quantified and fears a solution is not forthcoming. 

Throughout the Covid pandemic many clubs streamed their matches to supporters and there are concerns across the division that a move to a centralised system, when teams can already stream independently, has little support. 

‘We support the National League in delivering a solution for clubs but do not agree that everyone should be made to wait to stream games until it arrives,’ the note to clubs adds. 

INTERIM STREAMING PROPOSAL 

Proposal 

Any Club who can meet the National League’s minimum criteria should be permitted to stream their HOME League games both Domestically and Internationally with immediate effect.

Additional Provisions 

We would also suggest the following additional provisions are applied, to ensure that all Clubs are protected during the interim period: 

  • UEFA’s Article 48 must be observed
  • Streaming of games should not be compulsory
  • The Home Club, at its absolute discretion should decide if a game is to be steamed (so their own gate receipts are not at risk)
  • The Home Club should meet the costs associated with the streaming of the game
  • Any games selected for live coverage by BT, should not be eligible for streaming. 
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Financial 

This should be a matter for the National League to determine and impose on all Clubs. 

Notwithstanding this, and even if it puts Wrexham AFC in a worse financial position than other Clubs, until a centralised solution is in place or for the remainder of this season, whichever is the earlier, we would:

  • Charge £10 per game to any Domestic Subscribers
  • Provide the stream free Internationally (£10 if charged by others) 

The National League’s statement this week added that it is ‘imperative’ the interests of all 72 member clubs are considered on the issue of streaming live matches.

‘We understand the desire from some clubs, who find themselves in a position to stream independently and we respect that, however there is a requirement for the League to protect and provide a solution for all three divisions,’ the statement added.

‘We will always take into account the views of individual clubs, but it is imperative that we look after the interests of 72 member clubs and doing as much as we can to deliver income, profile and support for all.

‘The commercial arm of the League have been simultaneously seeking partners for the delivery and commercialisation of a streaming platform.

‘The League has the support of Vanarama and BT Sport in ensuring we deliver the needs of all our clubs.

With fears the National League's plan will take time to create, the memo sent to clubs, and seen by Sportsmail, is to start streaming matches immediately to open up revenue streams for clubs

With fears the National League’s plan will take time to create, the memo sent to clubs, and seen by Sportsmail, is to start streaming matches immediately to open up revenue streams for clubs

‘There are challenges in supplying a product that can be used by everyone, whilst ensuring compliance with Article 48. The board will consider the proposal in full, and that will include the timetable for its introduction.’

Reynolds highlighted the subject of live streaming by expressing dismay over league officials to his 20 million Twitter followers.

Tagging in all 24 National League clubs in his tweets, he wrote: ‘After months of maximum effort, the decision (through inaction of the Vanarama National League) to not allow domestic/international streaming of matches of Wrexham and the other clubs in the league is truly baffling.

‘Depriving every team in our league the chance to expand the fanbase while adding to league revenue benefits everyone.’

In light of the memo on Thursday, Sportsmail has contacted the National League for comment.  

It is revealed that international streams under the plan would be free so as Wrexham would not gain an unfair advantage financially in light of their increased fanbase from the documentary

It is revealed that international streams under the plan would be free so as Wrexham would not gain an unfair advantage financially in light of their increased fanbase from the documentary 

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