That Friday night feeling
Assessing how the new match night affects supporters by Philip Morrissey
‘I go out on Friday night and I come home on Saturday morning’. So went The Specials on their 1981 B-side. Southampton fans might be dolefully humming that very same song as they make their way home after the match. The timing of the game means that public transport is out of the question, and instead having to seek alternative methods to make it back. The ticket allocations seemed to have sold out, however, so it is likely that fans will take to coaches up and down the motorway.
It all comes back to the question of whether the concerns of the fans were taken into consideration when this was first proposed. Fine for the armchair fans, but not for those attending the game. The trial run which saw the reds travelling to Aston Villa at the start of last season, was enforced due to a police decision. Better think of the feelings of National Front supporters than match fans. This is of course not a new sensation for experienced fans. Many can still recall the first ever Monday night football back in the 92/93 season when the roles were reversed. Late night, traffic jams and the debut win of that season thanks to a last minute strike by new signing Dion Dublin. Heady days indeed.
The idea of Saturday 3 PM kick-offs across the board are long gone. Fans themselves have been in two minds about it. Evening and night games tends to attract more of the hard-core fans but it does mean having to rejig a lot of commitments when it comes to away games. Premier league games have been held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for quite some time. The Monday night games have become part of the norm after much debate when it was first introduced. With the congested nature of the schedule of many clubs, finding a space where to fit in games becomes even more difficult.
Football league games have been shown on TV for the past few seasons and so far, seems to have gone down well. One proposal that has been mentioned was to limit the long distances that fans have to travel for such evening games. For example, an away trip to Burnley for an evening game would certainly be manageable for most. Policing issues would probably ban local derbies however. It might not be feasible for every team but it would certainly lessen the expenses for those travelling.