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[Blog] Final Day Switch the Tip of the Iceberg
Written by slowerball on Friday, 25th Feb 2011 13:03

The Football League has switched all the final day Championship games to Saturday 7th May with 12.45pm kick-offs. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Once again the football authorities and TV companies dictate to the football supporters. Having made these decisions/fixtures some considerable time ago, I realise that games are subject to rearrangement due to postponements and cup ties – was ever thus. But the final games of the season have now traditionally been played on the final Sunday, which for me adds to the drama - if our club is involved – of the end of the season, with play-off places and relegation (let’s hope for us it’s the former and not the latter) still to be decided. This switch is rather annoying and means that I cannot now go to this game, and my son isn’t a happy chap as we had already made the necessary arrangements. As fans that reside 250 miles away, perhaps we are just unlucky. However, I feel that there are wider issues here. This is yet another case of the tail wagging the dog as football supporters continue to be given a raw deal by TV, the FA, the Football League etc, but more importantly it's the TV companies that seem to rule fixtures and call the shots.

There seems to be more emphasis on the so-called supporters who sit on their backsides and watch games on the box. I am not saying that fans should attend every game, as we all have lives and the expense of going to watch live matches increases disproportionately every year. The one bright spark is the free to air games shown on the BBC. I recognise also that TV money has increased the wealth of clubs and the profile of the game, but with so many clubs running at a loss and ticket prices creeping up, have the fans really benefited? Is football at Portman Rd now better than it was before Sky? I would suggest not.

The big clubs in the Premier League can now afford to pay £100k per week plus for 'star' players, which has the knock on effect of 'ordinary' players thinking they are worth £50k per week, many of whom seem content to sit in the stand, watching the games whilst wearing a big scarf, with seemingly no intention of actually wanting to play, which accounts for the fact that a) we can’t get these players into our club on loan because they are too expensive and have no desire to play (despite it being a short career) and b) even average players wage demands (or perhaps the demands of agents!) are too restrictive for clubs like ours to even consider these players either as a loaned or a permanent transfer.

The result of this is that there are many good players who could do a great job in the Championship or at lesser clubs that ‘supporters’ are being denied because of the money in the game. I believe that the football industry needs to take at look at how it treats fans, especially where disposable income in the wider society continues to diminish as the cost of living increases. Wage increases don’t keep apace with inflation, if they increase at all, the threat of interest rates going up and further unemployment are predictable.

Should rich owners and the pay TV companies choose to withdraw their sponsorship, the bubble that surrounds football may very well burst. It is therefore all the more important to treat fans as paying customers and with the consideration and thought we so thoroughly deserve.

It would be nice to think that some of this media cash that is clearly sloshing about is going towards the direct benefit of the fans rather than towards the obscene transfer fees and wages that were very much evident in the last transfer window. I will now put my soapbox away go out and buy some batteries for my portable wireless in readiness for the 7th May.

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TJS added 13:55 - Feb 25
Nothing will change due to the complete and utter apathy of 99% of football supporters in this country who will put up with anything and just moan about it amongst themselves.
The same goes for the lack of atmosphere in the North Stand these days. I've lost count of the number of people who moan about it week in week out yet when it comes to actually doing something about it (like getting singers together in Section 6 or whatever) no one can be bothered.


exeterblu added 14:16 - Feb 25
Great article:)

Can someone explain the rhetoric behind changing the fixture dates and times of the last day of the season ? I cant see any reason for them to make these changes?

ITFCOYB added 15:25 - Feb 25
Good blog- has got me thinking...

An idea that may help with the loans issue and fat wages for sitting in the stands:

What if FA affiliated players had to complete a certain amount of minutes in FA accredited fixtures every season to keep their license to play? A bit like the permits for players outside the EU or a pilot's license.
Say 450 minutes? (A mere five games)
If a player did not complete the 450 minutes either for their club or on loan he would be unavailable for the club the following season. They would be able to sell him OR loan him out until he completed a set amount of minutes (say 900- 12 games- roughly 3 months loan) at another club before being available for his parent club again.
If a player was registered as 'long-term injured' his time out could reduce the amount of minutes he was obliged to play proportionate to the length of injury. To unregister a 'long-term' injured player that had been listed as such and make them available again should take a minimum of 14 or perhaps even 21 days in order to combat abuse of the system.

Or would that contravene players' human rights in some way?

Would it have negative/positive contract ramifications? Increase or decrease player/agent power?

Any thoughts?

WeWereZombies added 09:42 - Feb 26
Traditionally the last game of the season has been on a Sunday? It depends on how far back you go, doesn't it? For a large majority of history of football in this country the traditional time for the professional game was three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon with a few midweek matches to allow for fixture congestion. Sunday observance was one of the reasons for that but it also served as a decent cap on the working week after centuries of long hours culture.

However, the lateness of the change this year from Sunday to Saturday is pretty indefensible. If enough people got together they should have a case for a refund of expenses beyond the ticket price, for season ticket holders maybe even a proportionate refund of that.

Tillz9 added 12:55 - Feb 26
Excellent blog - hit the nail in the head !!

Itfccoyb - I do like that idea , About time some if these players in inflated wages actually done what they claim to be so good at !!

tractorboy2434 added 10:50 - Mar 2
As our last fixture is an away game and the tickets are not yet on sale its unlikley that anyone is actually out of pocket, and as for the argument that TV calls the tune, well of course it does, without Sky where would most clubs be, broke.

Nthsuffolkblue added 09:49 - Mar 5
I agree. Terrible to have the match on a Saturday and to rearrange only months before the game. This is a tongue-in-cheek blog isn't it?

MyBlueHeaven added 13:47 - Mar 5
i'm confused - are you having a pop at the re-arrangement of the last game of the season, players earning too much - or the state of football today? all are worthy of discussion but you start out talking about the match moving from saturday to sunday, and then seem to include everything that is wrong in the game (and there's plenty that is wrong!).

would question though your comment that the last game being on a sunday is a 'tradition'. something needs to be around for more than 7 or so years for it to be a tradition.

as for why it's moved from sunday to saturday, my guess would be that Sky have something big on on the Sunday afternoon, so don't want to impact on that (in terms of viewing audiences). or perhaps there's something big on the saturday evening/late afternoon and they want something big to lead in to it with. ie to make 5/6 hours of 'super sport' - something that Sky can hype up. dunno - just my guess as i say.

as per some comments above - nothing's going to change until we turn off our Sky boxes and stop paying the subscriptions. i'm convinced that's the only way we'll see any significant changes in terms of the money floating around English football.

slowerball added 10:12 - Apr 17
Dear MyBlueHeaven - That's why the blog was entitled thus. Sorry if its so confusing.

The big problem about turning off Sky boxes - a sentiment with which I agree - is that they have a monopoly basically and there is no real competition... with the few games shown on BBC the crumb offered so as to 'prove' there are alternatives... It's even more of a stangle hold if you follow cricket, bar the odd highlights package or IPL on ITV4.
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