Fans Frustration Growing At Fixture Clashes07 May, 2022
The place of match-going fans in the priorities of the football authorities was revealed again this week when two games in the Premier League’s penultimate weekend were moved with just twelve days notice, creating a clash between big games in the men’s and women’s calendars.
The late change means that Manchester City fans who follow the club’s men’s and women’s teams will have to choose which game to watch – a potential Premier League title decider or an FA Cup final at Wembley. Fans of both the men’s and women’s game should not be forced to choose between supporting either side.
The clubs and Premier League have not released any official explanation for the scheduling change.
Supporters have been in touch with the Football Supporters Association (FSA) to say that they can no longer make the rearranged game and will lose money on their men's season ticket or lose money on pre-booked travel and accommodation.
The FSA Women’s Game Network felt they were given assurance from the FA that match-going fans would be considered and catered for in line with the landmark deal with Sky but it seems the opposite is happening and match-going fans are being treated as a lower priority when TV scheduling is happening.
FSA chair Malcolm Clarke said: “We need to find out which of the clubs requested this change, when they requested it and why, and whether the Premier League took into account the effects on supporters.”
FSA National Council member and Manchester City Women FC Official Supporters Club rep Jude Morris-King said fans of women’s teams were growing increasingly frustrated with the problem of fixture clashes. She said, “The FA Cup semi-finals saw both City and Chelsea teams playing on the same day. Many fans were left angry and upset because they should not be forced to choose which team from their club to support in the stadium.
“There have been far too many instances over the years where clubs have suffered from clashes, and the frequency has increased this season with the new Women’s Super League TV deal. This must stop as it is impacting the growth of the women’s game.”
Jude is absolutely right and as a fellow member of the FSA’s Women’s Game Network, we share their concerns. If clubs want to grow and develop their in-stadia supporter base then their experiences and preferences need to be heard before key decisions are made.