Tomorrow night Cardiff City play host to Sheffield Wednesday in the Football League Championship. Those from Yorkshire that want to support their team will have to drive more than a 400 mile round trip (minimum 6 ½ hours) to watch their team play. There are no direct trains.
In fact, if those die-hard supporters do take the Train to Cardiff on Friday afternoon leaving work early they could make the 3pm from Sheffield Station which changes in Derby arriving an hour before kick off at a cost of £106. Unfortunately though, there are no return trains back, the last leaving at 21:50 (with one change and a cold night sleeping on a platform) finally arriving at 07:15 on Saturday morning some 9 hours and 25 minutes later at a cost of £113.45.
The only feasible way that Wednesday fans can travel to Cardiff is by (most likely taking time off work) leaving early Friday afternoon to get on either one of the club busses or by car and arriving home well after 2am in the morning.
Whoever planned this Friday night game for the cameras and TV audience (bearing in mind it will not be a sell-out either) needs shooting.
Football has changed for the worse when it comes to TV dictating how the leagues are played out, a long annoyance of mine is that these Friday night and Monday night matches are popping up more and more regularly. I also hate the lunchtime weekend kick offs. I once remember Manchester United playing Portsmouth on a Saturday little after 12pm. A four and a half hour drive from Manchester to Portsmouth meaning many Red Devils (other than those living in Surrey) would have had to have left their houses at 6am just to make the match with ample time.
OK, I get that people get up early for work all the time so it can be done, I get that on a Friday you can also make a night of it and stop over in some towns, especially Cardiff which offers great nightlife, but I also think that fixtures should be arranged to get the best possible (and safest possible) matchday attendance with sufficient (and inexpensive) transport options available. There’s a reason for over a century we’ve played football matches on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm. Originally designed to allow workers to attend and play games after the factories were closed at lunch, now 100 years on it still seems that the best time of day is 3pm on a Saturday, giving fans plenty of time to get up and down the country whilst still being able to enjoy breakfast in the morning and watch match of the day at night.
Yesterday it was announced that my team Nottingham Forest will be having their away fixture at Millwall in December moved from a Saturday afternoon at 3pm to a Friday night to fit in to Sky’s randomly allocated TV planning schedule. Millwall in my memory have never even filled their ground at the New Den. I predict the cameras will once again pan down on a half empty stadium as both sets of fans struggle to get across London to even attend. Many won’t now bother because of this. Another shambolic decision which is hardly even motivated by money. Who in the hell other than die hard own supporters of each club would want to watch Millwall verses Nottingham Forest on a Friday night?
But the biggest is to come…. Liverpool supporters have just found out that there game at Leicester City on Boxing Day is now an 8pm Kick Off. YES… 8PM!!!!
Obviously this game at the King Power has been moved from a standard 3pm to fit in with not just the standard ‘SKY’ or ‘BT’ scheduling but for a new online streaming subscription from ‘Amazon’ and those Xmas TV dinner app downloading new breed of watching audiences maximising the Premier League’s viewing potential from around the world but this disgusting greedy negligence of supporters and the bread and butter football fan for instead a totally money-orientated vest and pant sitting audience that have zero effect on the atmosphere in Premier League stadiums is quite frankly wrong and shameful.
I get that the EPL is a market leading sponsor grabbing money money money making global brand of a business but for f*cks sake… It’s Christmas… Have a day off! Some of us have better things to do (like see family and friends) than watching x3plus games of football on boxing day. One is enough, one on the TV or one that we can go to, and play that match at 3pm so that we, the genuine fans of football can take our Dads to the matches after a pint or two in the local before getting home and spending the evening with our loved ones (including wives and children)… Not by making us fans, the die-hards, the real servants of the game and the people that make the Premier League magical get home long gone midnight on what is supposed to be BOXING DAY…. “A traditional day off for the servants given by their master” which is ironic when you think about it!