As if we needed reminding that the television companies give not a damn for travelling supporters, the latest batch of fixture changes will have come as affirmation of that fact.
Arsenal v Manchester City being switched to a Sunday at 4pm is understandable, I suppose. It is one of the bigger fixtures of the season. At least City fans will be able to get back to Manchester by train after the match. A knock on from this is Arsenal putting their home fixture with West Ham United back 24 hours from the following Tuesday to Wednesday.
The trip to Crystal Palace is now the first of consecutive Monday night fixtures for the Gunners on April 10th. Hopefully most will be able to make South London and back on the night, although I do know some who won’t. Sky stored up a real beauty for the following week.
On Easter Monday we now travel to Middlesbrough, yes Middlesbrough, for an 8pm kick-off. That makes train travel much more expensive and will involve a stopover for those who won’t make the tortuous journey by road. Why on earth could they not bring the kick-off forward to give the travelling faithful an opportunity to get home by rail? Thoughtless in the extreme by Sky there.
They couldn’t have done anything to compare with that, could they? How about move the last north London derby at the current incarnation of the swamp back to 4.30 on a Bank Holiday Sunday. I cannot believe the police didn’t veto that. Sky know full well what the atmosphere will be like once the two tribes have been on the lash for four hours before the renewal of acquaintances. I suspect they will have as many cameras outside the ground as in. Irresponsible doesn’t begin to cover it.
And yet we know the counter arguments. Television is paying absurd sums of money for the privilege to show matches and they will manipulate the fixtures for their benefit. That wouldn’t hurt quite so much if supporters were getting something in return. Instead the clubs trouser the cash and use it to further fuel transfer and salary inflation. The supporters are well and truly screwed with nobody to protect their interests.
What a week. It has brought out the Meldrew in me. I’ll try and cheer up in time for the Liverpool preview, and thanks for letting me rant on.