Could Sheffield United pay the price for being Box Office? Alan Biggs’ Column 

Conor Washington of Sheffield Utd attempts an over head kick which hits the cross bar during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield.  Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Conor Washington of Sheffield Utd attempts an over head kick which hits the cross bar during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Everyone wants to be noticed. As one of the Championship’s most popular picks for live TV, Sheffield United are earning relatively more in kudos than they are in cash.

It is not only recognition of being one of the foremost teams in the division but also one of the likeliest to entertain an audience at home.

Thus Chris Wilder’s side are currently in the middle of a TV trilogy with a hat-trick of games being screened back-to-back by Sky.

But maybe there is too little realisation of the pressures this brings outside of an exposure to a bigger audience. You suspect it becomes second nature for players to handle this. In an age when nothing escapes a camera lens, they know anything they do has an unlimited viewership.

No, I’m talking about the timing of these games, which are either ahead of or behind the Championship pack. Both bring elements not applicable to Saturdays at 3pm.

So hats off to Leeds United for being second in the table despite live appearances numbering into double figures, the latest of which was at Bramall Lane last weekend.

The Blades will have felt a need to steal a march on rivals in Saturday lunchtime’s compelling Yorkshire derby.

This weekend, United are playing catch up at Reading (5.30) - either looking to keep pace with top six teams or punishing their earlier slip-ups. And then, the following Friday, West Bromwich Albion are in town to kick-off the Championship weekend.

This is not making excuses. Taken singly, these are just one more game. But there is a case for suggesting those clubs selected regularly for Sky coverage are at a disadvantage.

Currently, United have been on live five times this season. That rises to eight by the time of the Boxing Day home game with Derby (although this one is at 3pm along with the rest of the programme).

If Wilder’s men continue to woo the Sky executives into the New Year it will be a sure sign that their promotion ambitions remain on course.

As such, the attention is welcome. It’s impossible to fly under the radar when you are winning and entertaining; a huge compliment to what the management and players have been achieving. But I do feel this should be taken into account when people are evaluating the team, for good or bad.

Certainly there is a disadvantage far from compensated by fees of around £100,000 for a home game and £10,000 away. And what about the effect on attendances?Sheffield United v Leeds should never be watched by fewer than 30,000. Less than 26,000 attended Bramall Lane last Saturday. I wish clubs would do more foot stamping and stop this damaging trend.