Fans across England are once again letting off steam on message boards and newspaper letter-pages as news filtered through of the Premier League’s re-scheduled kick-off times.
In what has became an annual event, thousands will be forced to re-arrange travel and work plans as the Premier League announced which games were to be moved from their scheduled Saturday 3pm kick-off. We’ve had a quick skim through the fixture list and found some interesting facts and figures already.
While fans of teams competing in Europe are used to seeing games moved at short notice later in the season, as clubs become victims of their own success, many will find it galling that already their club’s games are being moved from the traditional slot. Arsenal’s first 3pm home game isn’t until the end of October while not one of Chelsea’s opening five games takes place at 3pm on a Saturday.
Frustration reached boiling point last season as games were moved to such inaccessible kick-offs, as to be impossible for fans to reach using public transport, and little seems to have changed.
Manchester United’s trip to Fratton Park in particular will raise eye-brows as one of the league’s longest trips has been scheduled for 8pm on a Monday night. Across Manchester, City fans wishing to travel by public transport to their game at St James’ Park on a Monday night in October look likely to have to miss the end of the game, unless they wish to arrive back in Manchester at 7am the following morning.
Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the FSF said:
“When the last TV contract was being presented to club chairmen it was explained to them that more games would be moved at later notice. Not one chairman present objected. This contempt for the interests of match-going fans simply can't go on.
"Remember it's not just the visitors who are affected. Many 'home' fans travel long distances too. This is another kick in the teeth for them, along with all too many clubs putting up ticket prices despite Premier League clubs being carpet-bombed by new TV deals with bundles of £50 notes.
"Fans also face rising petrol costs and public transport fares, along with increased food, gas and electricity bills that we're all having to deal with. The match-going fans are crucial to the television experience aside from anything else and this must get fair consideration. We're all fed up of being treated like turnstile fodder. My fellow Stoke fans should be looking forward to our first season in the top division for decades. Instead many will be worried about how they can afford it.”
These are just some of the examples the FSF has found after a quick look through the fixture list, if you know of anymore examples, whatever division, email firstname.lastname@example.org.