So yesterday, SkySports and BT Sport announced the first round of TV games covering up until the beginning of October and quelle surprise, they have made it as tough as possible for Arsenal fans.
As in April last season, we have had pretty much every match moved, with only 1 out fo the 7 match’s remaining at 3pm on a Saturday – Aston Villa on the 20th of September. The full set of fixtures are:
Sat 16th Aug 17.30 Crystal Palace H
Sat 23rd Aug 17.30 Everton A
Sun 31st Aug 16.00 Leicester A
Sat 13th Sep 12.45 Man City H
Sat 20th Sep 15.00 Aston Villa A
Sat 27th Sep 17.30 Spurs H
Sun 5th Oct 14.05 Chelsea A
Firstly the Spurs game. I remember the days when it used to be an 11.30am kick off. It perhaps shows the way the game has changed, the hooliganism being less frequent, that it is now at 5.30pm. Or is it just that the power of the TV companies is now great than the power of the police?
As always, the biggest problem is going to be travelling to and from the games.
There were already major engineering works on the weekend of 23/45 August (Bank Holiday weekend), meaning that to get to Everton it was going to be a 4 hour, 3 train via Birmingham trek, but it was manageable. The changing of the fixture however has made it a nightmare for Arsenal fans.
A 3pm kick off would have meant fans could comfortably get the 19:04 and get back to London in time for the last underground trains. Due to the change, fans are either going to have to leave half way through the 2nd half, make other arrangements to get their, or do an over nighter. The only bright side is with it being a bank holiday weekend, an over nighter is not too bad.
The Leicester game is an even bigger piss take. On Saturday 30th August, you can get a train back to London up until 21:58. Brilliant. Sky, however, have moved the game to a 4pm kick off on the Sunday. The result:
On first look, it does not seem to bad, until you see those dreaded words ‘bus service’. The journey home will now take you via Kettering, where you will have to take a 70 minute bus journey back into St Pancras. This highlights the disregard that TV companies have for travelling fans. On the Saturday, no problems, on the Sunday, problems, so what do they do? Move the game to the Sunday.
So once again, thanks Sky, thanks BT. One 3pm KO in the first 7 games, and two nightmare journey. You clearly do not give a fuck about us. The more you do this, the less guilty I feel about streaming everything for free. You do not care about us, I will refuse to put money into your pockets.
By hook or by crook, I will get to Everton and Leicester, but I get the feeling this is the first of many travel challenges I will face as I embark on the 38 game season.