How close Sky Sports got to showing live Subbuteo action

It arrived in 2016 with an ambitious dream – to get Subbuteo live on Sky Sports.

But the Pro Table Soccer Association barely lasted another 18 months, its exciting and professional plans hindered by a lack of support from players and sponsors alike.

Former PTSA chairman Daniel Lilley pointed to the success of Barry Hearn and darts as an inspiration, and I interviewed him back in 2016 about the then new association.

It was to include four tour events, concluding with a 10-player Masters event at the Etihad Stadium.

With impressive branding, website and social media channels, Lilley had given the association all the foundations it needed to be a success.

But despite receiving 32 declarations of interest from players to participate, actual numbers at events were a let down and the association was eventually scrapped.

Reading back over the quotes from Lilley at the time, it’s a shame it never took off. He told me: “I used to play as a kid, so had good memories, perhaps not of standing on figures! About five or six years ago I got back into it, found the ESA and now I work with a number of the top teams and associations.

“My time at the ESA made me realise there is a high standard of table soccer, and it’s gone mental this year with sponsors.

“We’ve got a TV production deal in place for the Masters in November, Sky TV are going to do a feature on the qualifying stages, and BBC are going to do a snippet too.

“We’re modelling the association around what Barry Hearn has done with darts and try to bring media exposure.

“It shows that the game of table soccer/Subbuteo is very much still here.”

Stadiums that were used in the World Cup back in 2012 were used for the tour, one of which now takes pride of place in my office.

Maybe one day, another organisation will return and have more success, though given the current struggles the England Subbuteo Association is suffering from, perhaps not.

Lilley has since gone on to be heavily involved with the UK Klask Association, a magnetic table game.

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