FA Cup’s new kick-off time shows little thought for fans

Football and Rugby Fans are not Considered by the Powers That Be

Jim White reports in The Telegraph that this year’s FA Cup Final has been moved to a 5:15PM Kick off with no thought for the travelling fans or Football tradition. Rugby is following close behind, including two Friday night fixtures for next year’s 6 Nations Tournament.

Please read Jim’s story below and our suggestion on what true fans of both sports should do after that.

There is not much football and rugby fans agree on. The shape of the ball, the selection of chants, whether to stage a minute’s silence for a deceased former prime minister: the two tribes rarely see eye to eye. But this week, they have found common ground: they are united in a disdain for those who mess with their kick-off times.

Over the past few days, the news has been drearily predictable for traditionalists in both camps. First it was announced that the FA Cup final on May 11 would begin at 5.15pm. So the longstanding three o’clock start for the game’s showcase is now history.

Never mind that this year’s final features two clubs from the North West. Never mind that, in the event of extra-time and penalties, supporters of Wigan will have about 30 minutes to make it from Wembley to Euston station to catch the last train home and Manchester City fans all of half an hour longer.

Never mind that the Cup semi-final this year was besmirched by a bunch of meatheads who had taken advantage of a similarly late kick-off to spend the day marinating in lager. Never mind that nobody attending the match actually wants it; 5.15 it will be.

On Tuesday, the body coordinating the Six Nations revealed that two games in forthcoming championships would be staged on Friday evenings.

Rugby has been here before. Friday-night kick-offs were experimented with for two seasons. And it was thought the idea had been quietly binned after Wales played England in 2011 and Cardiff traffic was paralysed in Friday-night gridlock because no one could rely on public transport at that time.

There was a degree of rejoicing when common sense appeared to have won the day and no Fridays featured in the schedules for 2012 or 2013. After all, the Six Nations is as much a travel experience as a rugby one, an opportunity for the visiting fan to weekend in a rival capital, to absorb the local hospitality. It seemed as if this silly idea had been dispensed with. But it is back. And this time it is here to stay.

We know why. Television likes these evening contests. ITV, broadcaster of the FA Cup, enjoys the advertising-friendly manner in which a football audience carries through into an evening of talent show and chat. While the Six Nations organisers believe Friday night on the box exposes their game to a new, sizeable audience. The stadiums are already rammed, they argue, so how better to expand their fan base than proselytise to the sofa-bound?

In other words, the concerns, interests and ease of those actually turning up to watch the game in the flesh are secondary. As yet, neither the Football Association nor the Six Nations has acknowledged that their decision might dismay their long-term loyal customers.

If you believe that the travelling fans of both Football and Rugby should be given more consideration, that the games traditions should be upheld, indeed if you are one of those fans travelling down from the north west for the FA Cup Final, or travelling away to a 6 Nations game next year, then make your voice heard.

Post your thoughts on these Facebook pages

On the RBS 6 Nations page you can not create a new post so I suggest that you lodge your complaints under the post with the fixtures for 2014.

Also spare a thought for the small contingent (that runs to several millions) who follow the FA Cup and RBS 6 Nations on the far side of the world. These late evening kick offs mean that we have to stay up well into the next day in order to see the games live.

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