It is a rant we have had all too often.
Two announcements came today from Sunderland AFC – and in neither case is the club directly responsible – and they tell us a little more about what is wrong with mod€rn football:
* first, our home game against Newcastle United scheduled for a proper 3pm kickoff on Aug 20 has been moved, doubtless on security grounds, which we sadly must accept as inevitable, to noon on the same day. Blandly, safc.com adds: “This game has not been selected for live television transmission.”
Do Northumbria police care a jot about the supporters of either club who have chosen or been forced to move away from the region and for whom attendance will be made just that bit more difficult? Answers on postcards to the chief constable (copies to Niall Quinn on why such “despicable” fans will now feel driven towards illegal internet options, at home or in the pub)
* worse: “Sunderland’s visit to newly-promoted Barclays Premier League side Norwich City has been switched after being selected for live transmission by Sky Sports. How many Sunderland supporters who would have loved to attend the game will now be unable to? We do have to be realistic and accept that television money is part of the reason we are able to buy players like Connor Wickham and Asamoah Gyan. But wouldn’t it be nice to hear, too, that while only a fool would expect the least consideration for ordinary supporters from Sky, SAFC did at least raise a teeny-weeny objection?
Then there is QPR away. That – and I have been corrected here (see comments) in my belief that the date has been changed; it hasn’t – was already a make-it-as-hard-as-we-can-for-fans kickoff, now put back 15 minutes to 8pm, on Tuesday Dec 20. So televising it makes things no worse, and offers reasonable consolation for a date that could have been better chosen.
But my other arguments stand. We’re not asking for jackpot lottery wins here. Sooner or later, though, supporters are collectively going to give a nasty shock to the football money men, best remembered in the blank page that accompanied Len Shackleton’s chapter on what the average director knows about the game.