How do you like your football, sir? Saturday at 3pm? I’m afraid not; that is just too ‘old skool’ for the modern game.
Sky and BT mauled the fixture list this morning with 33 games moved from their traditional Saturday afternoon slot to a long weekend, anywhere between Friday 8pm to the same time on a Monday. Tell me, grandpa, what was it like in the days before television killed football as a spectator sport.
This is the same conversation we have year in, year out. Suits sit around congratulating themselves every few years as they screw a few hundred million more from television companies but each time, they hammer another nail into the soul of football’s coffin. Fortunately, the soul is big; too big to be completely dead or buried yet despite their best efforts. But how long before permanent damage is done? How long before the golden egg is overcooked and turns into a burnt omelette?
They are giving it a good go for matchgoing Arsenal fans; yes, I know we’re not the only ones but this is an Arsenal blog FFS.
So far, none of our 2019-20 matches kicks off at 3pm Saturday afternoon with only Aston Villa’s trip to the Emirates moving because of the Europa League. Television wrought havoc on our fixture list without one shred of concern, instead revelling in its contempt for fans.
The standout fixture in that mess is Manchester United, which is now on a Monday night with an 8pm kick-off. The shrill peep of Mike Dean’s whistle blows at around 9.50pm; good luck to anyone hoping to get back to Manchester Piccadilly in time for the 22:28 train to Euston. That’s the last London train until 5am on Tuesday, by the way.
Won’t Anybody Think of the Fans?
Arrogance isn’t the sole preserve of English football administrators. Arrogance or contempt – it’s hard to work out which is the greater threat to fans – pervades UEFA as well. The AST announced their six tests against which any changes to European football must be judged in a letter to the club last month. It’s going to the Football Supporters Europe AGM with support from other clubs’ Supporters Trusts:
Good luck with that but Arsenal’s sphere of influence is more limited than you think to judge by comments attributed to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin regarding the Europa League final. “Arsenal complained [the most]. That was probably because of the fans,” he moaned. “They just complained.”
So, we made some friends in high places ahead of Baku. Men in suits who probably enjoyed our humiliation and who answer the phone to us, “Raul…no”.
The only way to make the suits sit up and take notice is fans boycotting matches AND watching something other than the live television coverage. Hitting them in the pocket is the only way to effect change but for many people, a breaking point hasn’t yet been reached.
Talking of money as I was – let’s face it, most things in modern football come back to money – Arsenal added £3.5m to the coffers yesterday when David Ospina made his move to Napoli permanent. Ismael Bennacer could add a similar sum if he moves to Milan thanks to a sell-on clause we inserted when we sold him to Empoli.
And that, according to this gem, will make Enos very happy indeed…