At a meeting with Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive on Tuesday I discussed, amongst other things, the problems Newcastle fans have suffered this season from games being rescheduled for TV. We acknowledge that geography means we will travel further than any other fans over a season but late changes to the fixtures can mean serious travel problems and short notice changes can mean extra travel and accommodation costs.
Richard Scudamore assured the meeting that there was always consideration given to what it would mean to fans when a game is chosen for TV. We were sceptical because history doesn’t seem to support what he says. Despite how complicated he made it sound, there was some acceptance on both sides that everyone in the process tries to be as reasonable as possible.
Fast forward two days to Thursday and the news breaks that our game against Everton on Saturday 21st April at 3.00p.m. has been moved for TV to Monday 23rd at 8.00p.m. Monday night games always involve travel problems for our fans but we put up with it to follow the Toon. It feels like someone is taking the p**s when they wait until after tickets have been sold before they reschedule. Fans have already made travel and / or accommodation arrangements for the week-end based on a Saturday game which is now on Monday night.
So, who’s to blame for this?
Nothing was said by the Premier League representatives when we were discussing the TV schedules. It’s difficult to believe they didn’t know the April fixtures were under review.The broadcasters chose yet another Newcastle away game and rescheduled it for a Monday night. Not only do fans now face difficult travel arrangements many will have to take time off work. The club agreed to the revised fixture knowing that they’d already sold tickets and it would cause fans major problems.
The Trust has already taken this up with the Premier League fans group and the Football Supporters Federation. We’ll be asking the club to use the TV money it receives to compensate fans for travel and accommodation costs incurred by a Monday night game. So far they’ve only suggested that tickets that cannot be used will be reimbursed.
This demonstrates more clearly than ever that the vested interests, some may say outright greed, of the Premier League, the broadcasters and the clubs will always trump the inconvenience suffered and costs incurred by the fans. They will eventually kill their own golden goose when fans reach the point where they’ve had enough.
Football is nothing without fans.