by Ché ‘Blacksheep’ Guevara
The moving of the Arsenal v. Leicester City game from Saturday 13 February to lunchtime on the Sunday won’t inconvenience me from a travel perspective but it will give me an awkward decision to make (given its Valentine’s day). I think I know what I will do but at least I have the option; unlike Walter and his merry band of Belgian Gooners (and thousands of other football fans of both clubs) I don’t have to alter my travel plans at the last minute.
Walter eloquently described exactly what problems moving a game at such short notice can cause and the result will be empty seats in some parts of the ground. Ok, some people will get refunds on their tickets or sell them on the Ticket Exchange or to friends (or even to touts – since no one seems to want to do anything to stop them operating outside the Emirates). But some will simply be unable to come because of money, work, family commitments etc.
Why is this happening? Money!
As Abba know money, money, money, must be funny, it’s a rich man’s world…
Sky (and BTSprot) own the franchise to show Premier League matches all over the globe. They pour millions into football and it pays for our stars’ wages and helps clubs survive and (some) to turn a profit. TV money is GOOD for football clubs. But, as Sir Alex Ferguson (remember him?) once declared, it’s potentially BAD for football.
As the recent Twenty’s Plenty protest argued football stadiums without fans in them lose the atmosphere that make football the spectacle that it is (and so the draw for all that TV money in the first place). There are two things (other than Walter’s excellent piece) that you might want to read about this: Arseblog (as usual) makes some very valid points but also this piece from the Guardian in early January.
It seems Leicester fans (the 3,000 of them that are travelling to the game) might well make their own protest by boycotting the opening 5 minutes of the game. Some Arsenal fans might join them in solidarity and I applaud that. You might recall that Bayern fans did the same ahead of our recent Champions League game in protest at the cost of tickets in England.
Personally while I think protesting is a good thing and I’m all for it I shan’t be joining in (as I didn’t join in for the CL game). I want to be there to cheer on my team in what might is now a serious title clash (and why Sky couldn’t see this earlier goodness only knows).
More importantly I don’t think this sort of protest is particularly effective. Yes let’s have banners, or sing songs, but I rather expect Sky’s cameras will ignore it, or brush it off by saying they are allowing MANY more people to watch the game than the 60,000 in the ground. They won’t behave differently in future as a result of a few hundred well-meaning football fans.
The clubs might compensate the fans (and they should). With all the money they receive from TV rights every Arsenal and Leicester fan who can produce evidence of losing money as a result of this (cancelled or rescheduled flights, trains etc, hotel bookings and so on) should have that paid by the ‘football family’. Of course the people that should pay are Sky, but I note they couldn’t even be arsed to comment in the immediate aftermath of this story breaking.
If we really want to wrest control of football back from Sky and the other TV companies the solution is actually right in front of our eyes – and I mean literally in front of them. If you have a Sky account then cancel it. Do it today. Tell them why when you call. Tell them because you won’t accept them mucking around with our beloved sport any longer.
We don’t need a subscription to watch Sky anyway. It is available in pubs and clubs, you can access it online (this is apparently illegal so I do not condone you doing this however), or you can listen for free on the radio (it’s better anyway).
I gave up on Sky years ago – you only get a handful of Arsenal games anyway and I can watch away highlights on Arsenal Player for free.
So, if you are upset by Sky moving the goalposts (so to speak) by which I mean rescheduling games at a moment’s notice, ignoring the fan’s voice, charging £100s to watch games, putting games on Fridays from next season, scheduling games at 8 on a Monday between clubs at either ends of the country and destroying the traditional Saturday afternoon pleasure of millions…. then act in away that will actually matter.
Get on the dog and tell them its over, I’m leaving you Sky and enjoy the sense of relief, the loss of pointless channels you never watch and annoying pundits you would prefer to mute.
Then they might listen.
Insult of the Day (for the TV companies that change the game dates)
Illiterate loiterers! (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
From the anniversary files
- 22 January 2008: Tottenham 5 Arsenal 1, League cup semi-final. Arsenal put out their usual reserve team, and thus suffered the first defeat to Tottenham since November 1999, as Tottenham responded with their first team. Arsenal however did beat Tottenham home and away in the league that season.
- 22 January 2012: Arsenal 1 Man U 2. Arsenal lost all three January league games and were said to have “no chance” of qualifying for Europe in 2012/13, being in a mix of three teams, each five and six points outside the top four.
- It’s the bloody TV companies that run and ruin football
- Ref Review: Stoke – Arsenal: who is that voice whispering in my ear….?
- The one Arsenal transfer story that refuses to go away