COLUMN: What will earlier kick-off times in Super League next season achieve?

Super League will revert to 7:45pm kick-off times next year, stepping away from the conventional 8pm time-slot.

It’s something that has been mooted and discussed for quite some time – but it now looks like it’s firmly in place to happen in 2018: and as with most issues in rugby league, it has managed to cause a fair bit of debate already.

For newspaper journalists, it’s music to the ears. The hope now is that with less time pressure on reports before papers go to print, it will make things easier for everyone – the journalists, the people in the offices sub-editing the reports – and in turn, that could perhaps lead to more space in the papers. Less fear over missing the deadline = more space in turn.

That’s the hope, at least. But time will tell on that.

But what else will the sport get from that 15-minute switch next year? And what are the pros and cons of the move?

15 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re finishing work at 5pm and trying to hurry over the Pennines to get to a game, it can be a lot. In that regard, there is perhaps a tad more pressure on travelling fans to make kick-off: although that doesn’t seem to be a much-maligned problem in football, for example, when evening games routinely kick-off at 7:45pm.

But in a sport which already battles against crowd figures on a near-weekly basis, it’s perhaps not ideal to throw this particular spanner into the works, too.

A positive, though, is how it may impact on Sky’s coverage of sport. In terms of their presentation, Sky seem to do a fairly good job (I’m at most games, so am unable to really watch them on television, so anyone who disagrees, please feel free to say!). But one thing I often see is fans complaining there’s usually no time after the game for any sustained period of reaction.

Again, while 15 minutes isn’t going to change the world, what it will do is allow a window of opportunity for Sky to maybe get into the changing rooms, have a bit more detailed analysis of the games, and add an extra dimension to their presentation.

Yes, they’ll lose 15 minutes from the start of the broadcast due to an earlier kick-off time, but it’s usually after the game where fans crave analysis and reaction, not before.

Plus, with games routinely running to 10pm or even beyond in some cases, the impact it may have on families looking to attend games could be beneficial too. Suddenly, more families may be inclined to take younger fans to games on a Thursday or Friday evening, which can only be a good thing for the sport’s long-term health when it comes to attendances.

So all in all? I see it as a pretty good step forward. For the TV coverage, for newspaper coverage, for families and for the sport in general.

Over to you to decide..