Why is Sky Sports showing live Premier League football on Friday nights?

Friday Night Football is here to stay – and so is new Sky Sports signing Rachel Riley...

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Friday nights at the pub will never be the same again: Friday Night Football is coming to a TV screen near you.

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Yes, thanks to the billions paid for live Premier League TV rights, this season will be the first time the top flight will schedule matches on Friday nights, starting with Manchester United vs Southampton FC this Friday 19th August.

Sky Sports’ Friday Night Football will probably become as much of a fixture as Monday Night Football – although pity the Southampton fans trying to get back from Manchester after the game. The last train back leaves at 9.15pm – before the match has even finished. Joy.

But seeing as this is RadioTimes.com and not a Saints fan forum, it’s TV not train schedules you’re probably after.

In which case…

Sky Sports will be showing the first live Friday night Premier League match this Friday 19th August: Manchester United v Southampton FC, live from 6.30pm, kicking off at 8pm

It’s one of 10 live Friday night matches in the Premier League this season. The next confirmed fixture is Chelsea v Liverpool on Friday 16th September, also live on Sky Sports.

Sky’s coverage on Fridays will have a different feel to its Monday Night Football – instead of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, there will be Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley, rekindling their Countdown double act for the footie.

“The whole feel of the show is going to be slightly different,” Stelling said recently. “It’s going to be slightly lighter and more humorous, a bit more fun. That’s where Rachel comes in.”

It doesn’t take a maths genius however to work out why Friday nights are now football nights. The most recent live Premier League TV rights deal cost Sky Sports and BT Sport more than £5 billion – that works out at more than £10 million per live game.

With Saturday 3pm kick-offs still off-limits (although not for Irish football fans), it’s no wonder more fixtures are rescheduled for live TV. 

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Great news if you’re up for a long sporting weekend. Less welcome if you fancy a quiet pint after work. The Premier League four-day weekend starts here.