TV money leaves no room for the working class fan.
Written by @SimonLillicrap
On Monday night Arsenal faced Newcastle at the Emirates, an eight o’clock kick off live on Sky TV. A 560 mile round trip awaited the Geordies, with 2000 of them making the trip. For those with work the next day, the last train back to Newcastle was at 10pm meaning that many fans had to leave the game half an hour early, with their side 2-0 down, in order to get their train back home. Others took the Tuesday of work and forked out money for a hotel. The ‘working man’s game’ is becoming ever more out of reach for the loyal supporter.
Buying a ticket for the match and then only getting to see two-thirds of it is ridiculous. So why can’t fans have more say on when their games are played? Sky’s money means that they possess the power to make teams play when they want. What they say goes. Long gone are the days of everyone kicking off on a Saturday at 3 o’clock, and for TV viewers this is a good thing as it allows us to consume as much football as possible. However, surely there must be a limit.
The same argument can be made for the Cardiff fans that awoke at in the early hours to travel the 309 miles to the North East to watch their side get thumped 4-0 by Sunderland, almost confirming relegation. Sky for some reason put this game as a 12 o’clock kick off, with no consideration for the Bluebirds fans. I am by no means saying that, if the two teams are a fair distance away from each other than the games shouldn’t be televised. However, just a little consideration for the fans wouldn’t go amiss.
Surely they could have swapped this relegation battle with the game that followed it, Liverpool vs Chelsea. You can get from London to Liverpool in just over 2 hours, meaning the Chelsea fans could have got home with time to spare, and the Cardiff fans could have had more time to get there. This would have encouraged more fans to go to the game, meaning a better atmosphere and more money made by the club.
In the lower leagues where hardly any games are on TV, fans travel up and down the country on a Saturday, knowing every week their team will be playing at 3pm. It becomes a routine that’s fans love. They work all week looking forward to a few beers on a Saturday watching their team, with their mates. Yet in the Premier League only a handful of the weekend’s games are 3pm kick offs, and your team will almost certainly not have three or four consecutive Saturday 3pm games. This means no routine for the fans, and often that they miss out on that Saturday football feeling.
The need for TV companies to make as much money as possible means that they show as many games as they can. They need to start valuing the fans that go to the games as much as they value their precious viewers.