Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

High Time That Broadcasters and the Premier League Spared a Thought for Away Supporters

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

High Time That Broadcasters and the Premier League Spared a Thought for Away Supporters

Article excerpt

GONE are the days when just about every single Premier League side would play at 3pm on a Saturday.

And rightly so. Fans across the country, and the globe, desire their football fix every weekend - so the increasing number of televised games is, on the one hand, a positive.

Particularly when a team is away from home, like Newcastle United were on Sunday, these additional broadcast slots also allow supporters the chance to watch their team on the road, even if they cannot attend.

But common sense needs to be applied to these situations too. It is the away fans who are being forgotten in all of this.

Sky Sports and BT Sport have paid huge sums to secure the Premier League rights, so it is understandable to an extent that they want to pick and choose who they wish to broadcast, and at which time they think each game will draw the largest audience.

But when the next three years' worth of rights go to tender at the end of the year, the Premier League needs to remember that it represents away supporters, as well as fans across the globe.

It cannot just accept the broadcasters' money and bow down to whatever demands they put forward. Instead, representations must be made.

In theory, there was supposed to be 3,200 travelling Newcastle fans at St Mary's on Sunday.

But, due to Sky Sports' ludicrous scheduling - this is the third 600-mile-plus round trip for United that the broadcaster have selected to show at 4pm on a Sunday - and travel chaos, the numbers were not quite at that level.

Many fans had been able to offer their tickets to others, but there were a few empty seats in the away end.

The 7.55 from Newcastle - the earliest possible train that can get you from the North East to Southampton, and the only real feasible journey available by rail - suffered a broken wheel and was delayed for more than two-and-a-half hours.

My colleague Lee Ryder and myself were forced to abandon the second leg of our journey, and instead get a taxi from London Kings Cross to St Mary's, which only arrived marginally before kick-off.

Many supporters were unable to do so, and why should they fork out for a taxi in order to get there anyway? …

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