Catlin demands Pompey pilot improvements

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler
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It was billed as a potential groundbreaker in live streaming Football League fixtures.

Instead Saturday’s product was branded ‘unacceptable’ by Mark Catlin and ‘absolutely poor’ by Eric Eisner.

We have seen some of the results of companies taking part in trials at other clubs and it looks pretty good. What our fans viewed on Saturday wasn’t acceptable by any stretch of the imagination

Mark Catlin

Now Pompey are demanding improvements to the service which the Blues’ chief executive is convinced still has an important future.

Last weekend, Pompey’s match with Northampton and Bury’s visit to Walsall were chosen to pilot iFollow’s bid to stream football to domestic supporters.

The Football League service has already been in place for overseas fans since the start of the campaign, proving a popular draw for Blues followers.

However, the Israeli company trialling the broadcast at Fratton Park drew criticism for the commentator’s lack of knowledge and the use of a sluggish robotic camera.

And Catlin also blasted the quality of the live stream.

He said: ‘It’s important to stress this is an EFL product and not directly a club product. There is no-one at the club that has any control over what is going out or what is currently produced.

‘And, led by Michael Eisner, we were very disappointed with the quality of the trial that was undertaken.

‘We have seen some of the results of companies taking part in trials at other clubs and it looks pretty good. What our fans viewed on Saturday wasn’t acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.

‘It was the commentary, the camera positioning, while we were told there were going to be enhancements like an on-screen clock and the score.

‘We were all looking forward to it – and it was a huge disappointment.

‘Remember our owners are watching the very same service in America, they were up at 4.30am watching it so are as displeased as anyone what was on offer.

‘I’m sure the EFL will get there in the end, they are desperate to make this work and are putting a lot of resource into it but it was a setback and disappointing.

‘We are going to be working more closely because of Michael’s skillset.

‘It is something we are going to be looking at and have offered our services to the EFL to try to improve the service moving forward.’

As it stands, a Uefa black-out is in place to prevent the live broadcasting of games taking place from 3pm to 5pm on Saturdays.

This ensures attendances at traditional football times are not affected by live streaming.

It meant the Checkatrade Trophy clash with Northampton was selected for a 12.30pm kick-off to enable the trial.

Yet Catlin remains optimistic for the concept moving forward.

He added: ‘The principle is good but the execution hasn’t been at the moment.

‘If we think something is wrong, we have never shied away from saying so.

‘We are not silly and know supporters are not silly, there is no point trying to paint a rosy picture of Saturday, it simply is not good enough.

‘But you have to look to the future and I am convinced with the resources at the EFL’s disposals they will make a success of this and will make a great product for the future.’