Little recourse for Iranian fans as broadcasting blackout enters second week

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Esteghlal v Perspolis - Iran Pro League

Fans in the football-crazy country of  face a devastating TV blackout of the Persian Gulf Pro League as hostility flares between the country’s governing body and local broadcasters.

In a contentious row between the Iran Football Federation (IFF) and Iran Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) over TV rights, the IFF has followed through on previous threats and banned all broadcast media from entering any stadium in order to cover PGPL matches. According to reports, the IFF is asking $54 million for domestic rights, while the IBC will only pay $7 million over the next three years. It is expected that a neutral mediator will be required to break the deadlock.

Yet an expected rise in attendance has yet to materialize as apathetic viewers choose to ignore the country’s struggling domestic scene altogether. It’s likely that many fans haven’t noticed a difference, as the IBC’s broadcasts have for years focused on Persepolis and Esteghlal, Tehran’s two dominant clubs. A diminishing player pool and fewer goals per game have also contributed to decreased interest in the league, even as Iran competed in the recent 2014 World Cup.

After 13 rounds, Tractor Sazi lead the PGPL with 27 points with Foolad close behind at 24.