Scandi Drama
When Saturday Comes|December 2019
Years before it was screened live in the UK, England’s Football League was building a cult following abroad thanks to a visionary broadcaster.
Mikael Enqvist

Friday December 16, 1983, was a mile-stone in British TV history. Match of the Day broadcast a live game, between Manchester United and Tottenham, for the first time. By that point, however, English league and cup matches had been shown live in Scandinavia for over 14 years. The reason for the time lag was mainly the English clubs’ concern about loss of audience revenue, but Swedish reporter Lars-Gunnar Bjorklund’s groundbreaking ideas and bold approach also had a part to play.

In 1969 a new TV channel was about to be launched in Sweden but in order to watch the broadcasts, viewers with older sets would have to buy an adapter. When Bjorklund was asked by his editor for suggestions to boost sales, he mentioned an idea he had been mulling over for a few years. In the mid-1960s he had been covering the speedway World Championships at Wembley, and also took the opportunity to watch his favourite team, Spurs, at White Hart Lane. He wondered why Swedish TV shouldn’t broadcast English matches during the winter half of the year, outside the Swedish Allsvenskan season. Now, he thought, this idea’s time had come. Bjorklund was immediately tasked with investigating whether it was possible.

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