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Does the International break have a positive or negative effect on the Lower Leagues?

In a season that will culminate in a European Championship in Germany next year, International breaks are coming thick and fast as qualification and seeding is decided. But what do international breaks mean for the lower leagues? And how are they impacted by the absence of top flight games in terms of fan attendance and overall engagement?

The norm has typically been that League One and Two continue through whilst the Premier League and Championship are put on hold due to player call-ups. But last month, during the first break, there were only two League One games, and this month, only four. This offers itself to the notion that more players are being recruited on an international scale for their respective countries than before. Thus, League One is now largely affected by international breaks as well. In turn, League Two can now be placed at the forefront in terms of giving fans an alternative game to go to if they team is not playing, but also lower league games being televised to a national audience. England games are almost always on a Friday or Saturday night, meaning it does not coincide with EFL and National League matchups. This gives clubs a chance to attract a larger than usual audience to their games.

To give an example, Notts County against Mansfield was broadcast live on Sky Sports on Saturday lunchtime. Despite this giving fans the opportunity to watch their team at home on the sofa or in a pub, the attendance was an impressive 16,638 with nearly 4,000 Stags in attendance. County's previous average home attendance this campaign was just over 10,000. Therefore, due to the international break and television coverage, County benefitted from a 60% increase in attendance in the Nottinghamshire derby. This spotlights a positive outcome of the international break on lower league football. As a by product of this game, Notts County will have boosted revenue from TV and ticket sales.

One potential, but only partially consequential down side of increased call-ups in League One is the necessary fixture adjustments in order for teams to catch up on games. The season already has a congested schedule without postponements, and these numerous breaks for international contests means more games need to be rescheduled for midweek. This could possibly have a knock-on effect down the line as the busy festive period looms. It also adds complications logistically for the EFL. In spite of this, there is no feasible solution for this without altering the entire season schedule, but teams that have still played during international breaks will be ahead of schedule with more game played. This could work both ways, as in Leyton Orient's case on the weekend, they moved up the table with a 1-0 win over Carlisle, whilst Carlisle fell closer to the relegation zone and could now be overtaken by teams immediately below them if they win the game in hand.

Overall, the international break allows for lower leagues to benefit from increased attendances and also for those clubs selected for TV coverage to rake in revenue from TV figures and sponsorships.

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