Luis Suarez will make his competitive debut for Barcelona on Oct. 25, but British television audiences will miss the opening 15 minutes of the Clasico encounter with Real Madrid.
Sky Sports are unable to broadcast live football between 2.45 p.m. and 5.15 p.m. on Saturdays "in a bid to protect attendances at 3 p.m. matches," according to Craig Hope of the Daily Mail. Considering Suarez's Barca bow kicks off 15 minutes before this blackout ends, the opening quarter of an hour shall be missed by those in the region.
Interest in the Clasico is always high in Britain, but Suarez's likely appearance in this year's clash makes it even more intriguing to this particular audience. The former Liverpool striker was often in the headlines during his time in England—be it for scoring goals, being charged for racist abuse or biting an opponent—so the Uruguayan's Blaugrana debut takes on greater prominence for the nation he left behind.
The end of Suarez's four-month ban, which was inflicted after he bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, provides an interesting subplot to Barcelona's season.
Luis Enrique has his team playing smart, defensively sound football. The Catalan giants currently sit unbeaten at the top of La Liga with no goals conceded. Seven games down, Barca average 2.71 goals per match with an impressive total of 19 domestic strikes this season.
Lionel Messi has scored six (not to mention his six assists), while Neymar has netted seven, per WhoScored.com. It will be extremely interesting to see how Suarez fits into potentially the world's most lethal attacking trident.
Jorge Messi, Leo's father, believes Suarez's arrival "makes the team stronger and makes everyone think about collaborating a bit more," as revealed in an interview with Cadena Cope via Jen Evelyn of Inside Spanish Football.
Speedy interlinking play will certainly be key to fitting all three in, but an impressive performance from the three in the Clasico would thrust Barca to being overwhelming title favourites already.
Upon handing Suarez the Golden Boot trophy for scoring 31 goals last season, former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish had exciting words for the Barcelona faithful, per the club's official Twitter account:
The television blackout isn't a one-off incident. It is a regular occurrence for viewers of Sky Sports' La Liga coverage. Gareth Bale's first Clasico outing came under the same ruling, while the coverage started just as Neymar scored in last season's offering. As noted by Hope, the blackout dates back to the 1960s.
While it's commendable to try to preserve the lure of watching football live in stadiums, this is no doubt particularly frustrating for viewers who pay subscription fees to the service.
It is possible the opening quarter of an hour will pass without incident, but in Clasico matches, this is never guaranteed. A mistimed tackle, close goalscoring chance or excellent goal could ignite the fixture at any time.
The added unpredictability of Suarez's arrival will undoubtedly have British viewers captivated, even if they are late to the party.