Are Non-League Matches Televised?

Wayne Shaw digs into a pie on Sutton United's benchSutton United's Wayne Shaw eats pie live on BBC

While it may be regarded as an inevitability that come 3pm on a Saturday afternoon the country’s top teams will adorn the screens of television sets around Britain’s homes and pubs. Non-league fans know that the ability to view your team without attending the game is a privilege Football League fans take for granted.

However, non-league teams do find themselves gracing our screens on occasions, and for Vanarama National League sides it has even become weekly. That being said it may only in the form of a highlights package.

BT Sport – National League

BT Sport brought the rights to televise the National League back in 2013 and have provided coverage of the league ever since.

BT  Sport aim to televise one game a week from the National League season as well as airing a highlights package of all the league action.

BT’s coverage, as described by chairman Brian Barwick, is, “simply outstanding”.

Offering non-league sides the opportunity to have televised games is hugely beneficial in circulating awareness of the league and attracting a larger viewership and fanbase.

BT Sport also show every play-off game live, including Wembley’s final.

BT Sport – FA Trophy and FA Vase

For teams in leagues below the National League the opportunity to be televised is only achieved if they are successful in reaching the finals of either the FA Trophy and FA Vase.

The cup competitions take place on the same day (this year the date set is the May 21) offering BT an opportunity to televise both games in one programme.

BBC & ITV – FA Cup

The FA Cup rights are shared equally between The BBC and ITV as of the 2022/23 season; ITV taking the place of BT Sport.

The televising of non-league teams in the FA Cup relies on them reaching the later rounds of the competition. Broadcasters latch on the the demand for ‘cup magic’ they often screen the ‘giant killing’ potential that non-league teams offer up.

These games often offer TV ‘gold’, not limited to the football and ‘cupsets’.

Note Sutton United’s Wayne Shaw digging into a pie on the home sides bench as they clashed with Arsenal in 2017’s fifth round tie, only to be caught by the BBC’s cameras.

The 45 year old would later be fined £375 and banned for 2 months as it was discovered betting companies had laid odds 8-1 he would be caught eating a pie on TV. Arsenal came out 2-0 winners on the night but Shaw stole the show.

National League TV

This season (2022/23) has seen the welcome arrival of ‘National League TV’. The streaming service has made it possible for fans of the National League to pay a one off fee to view their teams fixture on their mobile device.

All games are available to stream other than that being broadcasted by partners BT.

And for the others?

For sides lower down the pyramid the likelihood of a television debut remain minimal, with appearances limited to the FA competition’s finals or late stages.

It is unlikely that this is to change, with BT Sport only buying rights for the National League thus far.