If you thought it was bad in the Premier League, be prepared for a worse in the Championship.
Sky has announced the Villa fixtures which they will show over the first six weeks or so of the season and there are already fout changes, two resulting from one match. Derby at whatever naming rights they’ve sold for Pride Park this season, on 20th August is now a 5.30pm kick-off, which doesn’t cause too much hardship for local fans. Even the rail network is open at the time of the final whistle with a selection of trains available.
Following that, the east midlands comes to Villa Park, with Nottingham Forest pitching up on Sunday 11th September, a day later than advertised. Kick-off is now at 1.15pm so time for a few quick beers beforehand.
The third match changed is a double-whammy. As a result of the rescheduled Forest match, the home game against Brentford is now on Wednesday 14th at 7.45pm as opposed to the day before. It seems no great shakes to anyone in TV Land but it is for people who’ve already – naively – booked time off work the following day.
The final fixture change is when the Barcodes come to town. Newcastle still visit Villa Park on Saturday 24th September but no longer at 3pm; it’s now 5.30pm. Let’s hope the Magpies supporters have got jetpacks to get back to New Street. The last train back to Tyneside which arrives around midnight, leaves at 7.31pm.
And currently cost £105.50 single! Still, the jetpacks will travel faster after they’ve had their wallets lightened by the train companies.
It’s those supporters who rely on public transport who are the forgotten voice when television switches fixtures. It’s inconvenient for everyone but fans who for whatever reason, need to use the train to get to and from games, often feel that they are the after-thought. No consideration is given during the selection process for televised matches and I don’t think much is expected either.
The whole process lets supporters down. Sky don’t get a tangible increase in their subscriber base by angering people who can’t get to games, it’s more likely that publicans will. If the game doesn’t lose these people at all. I know a number of people who’ve stopped going to football because of the cost and inconvenience, and they are gradually losing interest in the sport.
Yes, I think they are strange too.
But the issue is a serious one for the sport to address. It’s archaic that we can’t watch games live on the internet. The Football League was averse to televising matches – even highlights – until 1964 due to their paranoia over falling crowds. The internet is the last technological barrier at the moment and I wonder if it’s become time for the game to embrace it.
Televising live fixtures hasn’t particularly diminished attendances so would streaming them be any different? Perhaps the experiment could start with away games, requiring a full months subscription to watch even just one game? Makes the clubs money.
It’s a wide area to consider with many potential solutions. All we need is a will. The way will come.