Arsenal v Coventry – TV ruining football since 1992

Anyone who is a member of the She Wore A Yellow Ribbon Facebook Group may well of stumbled across a rant I made before the Aston Villa game. The origins of the rant came from me returning from Thailand on a Friday, having missed my 1st league game of the season (I am a home & away season ticket holder).

My Thailand trip lead me to miss Chelsea, West Ham, Newcastle, Cardiff, and the Tottenham FA Cup tie. It was my choice, and I have no complaints. The trip was epic and I caught every game on TV – including watching the FA Cup game in the Spurs Supporters Bar in Chiang Mai.

My aforementioned rant was with regards to the Aston Villa game. Due to a decision made by TV executives, the game had been moved to the Monday night. As I had just had 3 weeks off work, there was no way that I could then take even the Monday afternoon off to go to travel to Birmingham.

By moving the game, SkyTV once more showed that they do not care about fans who go to games. Not just travelling Arsenal fans, but travelling fans of Aston Villa who might not live in Birmingham. By moving the game, it once again showed that football authorities currently care more for the TV viewer who pays £50 a month for a subscription, than the loyal supporter who pays £50 for a single ticket.

The reason I am bringing this up now is due to the upcoming Coventry City tie. Once again, TV companies – this time BT Sport – have decided to move the tie. To a Friday night! Whilst this does not create a massive problem for me (I live and work in London) it does cause a lot of problems for many other fans of Arsenal, and for all fans of Coventry.

They now have to take time off work, either using up holiday allowance, or losing a days pay, to go and watch football. Fans should not be put in this situation, where they have to decide whether they want to be paid, or watch the club they love. BT Sport are a disgrace moving the tie.

It is especially sickening when you consider the state of Coventry City at the moment. I usually do not care about the problems of other clubs (Hull, Cardiff, you accepted the money, you accept the consequences) but the story of Coventry City is a sad one.

Coventry City is a great old name in English football. Established in 1883, they are what many would call a ‘proper football club’ doing a lot of work for its community. There previous stadium, Highfield Road, was a proper football stadium. Like Highbury, it rose out of the houses around it and was part of the community. They spent 33 consecutive years in the top division of English football (there was life before Sky and the Premier League) before being relegated in 2001. At the time, only Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton had been in the top division longer.

Unfortunately, this relegation was only the beginning for Coventry City. Like many sides in the 90s, they decided a new stadium was what was needed to take them forward. A decision was made in 1997 that they would move, with planning permission granted in 1999. The original plan was for the stadium to be ready for the 2000/01 season. Due to problems, the project was delivered 4 years late. Had the stadium been ready for 2000/01, Coventry may well have never got relegated, as the extra revenue from 10,000 extra seats might have generated enough revenue to buy some extra players to keep them up.

Anyway, I digress from speculation. 2 years after moving to their new stadium, they narrowly avoiding going into administration. In 2012, they ere relegated to the 3rd tier of English football for the 1st time in 48 years. Rent disputes with the owners of the Ricoh Arena then put Coventry into administration, where they received 2 10 point deductions from the Football League.

These disputes resulted in Coventry not just moving out of the Ricoh Arena, but out of the City of Coventry. Relocating to Northampton – over 30 miles away, where they currently play their home games.

It is a sad story up their with Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday. How a once great club can quickly fall through the football pyramid. This season, Coventry City have averaged a 2,239 home gate – 23,000 went through the gate for their last game at Highfield Road.

An away tie at The Arsenal would have been a bright light on what has been a very dark season for Coventry City. At the Emirates for FA Cup ties, sides can take 15,000 supporters. Coventry would have sold out their allocation and had a great day out, no matter the result.

Rather than let Coventry City fans have their day, BT Sport decided to televise it and move to to Friday night. The disgrace of this move is not just that it was moved, but the FA have sactioned it. They should have stuck up for the Sky Blue’s fans and told BT that if they wish to televise it, they can, but during the weekend.

instead, Coventry fans are going to have to take a day off work and then hope to get the last train back to Coventry (11pm from Euston). It” be tight and essentially, there day out has been ruined by the TV companies.

Sky have done a lot for football since they got involved in 1992. A dramatically improved TV viewing experience, coupled with financing the Premier League , ensuring clubs can compete for Europe’s best player. They are also the root of all evil.

The money they have pumped into the game has meant they are king decision maker. If they want to move a game, clubs and the authorities will say ‘yes’. I remember not too long ago, North London Derbies would be at 12.30 (or even 11.45am) at the police request. But it seems TV companies are now more powerful than the police, with the recent FA Cup tie moved to 5.30pm. It seems even Health & Safety have sold out.

A lot of people talk about Modern Football and being Against Modern Football (#AMF). I usually find this a bit cringe worthy. However, when it comes to the TV influence in football, especially when a side like Coventry has their FA Cup tie moved to a Friday, or Newcastle are asked to travel down to Southampton for a 12.30 kick off, I completely agree.

The TV companies are slowly killing football for the match day fan. The only way to reduce their influence is to not renew your subscription. There are plenty of other ways to watch a game. Embrace these. Stop Sky.




6 thoughts on “Arsenal v Coventry – TV ruining football since 1992

  1. John17

    While I understand that it will inconvenience some supporters, I’m excited about a Friday night game. I also work in London and live near the stadium. I view it as a chance for Arsenal supporters who may not always get a chance to see games to get to a match. Given the match is televised, anyone who can’t make it has a chance to watch on Sky. I bet more than 15,000 Coventry supporters will get to see the match on TV.

    1. anxiousgeek

      You’re missing the point. Yes more than 15,000 Cov supporters will see the match, but less that that will go, much less, and the club will miss out on all thate revenue. Revenue the club badly needs right now.

  2. Warey123

    This was also a great chance for some of the kids to watch one of the top sides in Europe but unfortunately it is impossible to get there in time after school. A really disappointing decision by BT and the FA.
    Yeah I will watch the game on telly for free but I’d much rather pay to be there.

  3. MathKilledTheWorkingFan

    Let’s see 60k tickets x 50 = 3mil
    3mil viewers x 50 = 150mil (England, alone)
    Then do math on the massive global audience …
    Friday primetime alone vs. Saturday morning against a host of other ties …
    If you don’t like it, learn to love it because it’s not going anywhere.
    Unless the live sports rights bubble bursts … if there is one … maybe …
    The old days were over a long time ago …


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