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Fans hit out as Sky Sports cause further disruption

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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Fans of six Premier League teams face disruption to their travel plans for the penultimate game of the season after Sky Sports moved three games with just two weeks’ notice.

With Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur proceeding to the semi-finals of the Champions League, Sky Sports have decided to change their original selections made in the latest round of the TV picks.

Liverpool’s trip to St James’ Park to play Newcastle United, chosen by Sky Sports for a Sunday 4pm kick-off on May 5th, has now been moved to a Saturday 7.45pm kick-off.

Similarly, Spurs’ game against Bournemouth, which was due to be played on the Monday night, has been moved to an early Saturday kick-off. Manchester City against Leicester City, originally picked for an early Saturday kick-off off, has been transferred into that empty Monday night slot.

Newcastle United fan site NUFC.com labelled the fixture changes a “farce” and said the contradictory information coming from Sky Sports’ was “trapping unwary fans into making travel arrangements based on misleading information.”

“There’s no reason for the original fixture list not to have been left untouched,” they said. “With the proviso that changes would follow depending on the fate of the clubs in Europe.”

This is not the first time broadcasters have acted with impunity by moving games at late notice after losing their first choice TV selections due to predictable fixture clashes.

Back in February, BT Sport refused to give up TV games it had picked for Manchester City, who could not be televised after they progressed to the League Cup final – instead moving Newcastle United vs Burnley and Leicester City vs Crystal Palace into the vacated slots.

Speaking about his disappointment that Manchester City’s final home game of the season would be moved to a Bank Holiday evening kick-off, Ray from Man City Fan TV said: “Two weeks notice is absolutely scandalous.

“This goes beyond who you support, it goes beyond the tribal nature of football, we should all be standing together because it’s ridiculous.

“I’m really annoyed, angry and upset by this. Lots of people have made arrangements for that Bank Holiday Monday.

“The Premier League should not be punishing other fans by forcing them to buy new flights, new hotel bookings, or getting more time off work.”

This episode once again highlights the disruption caused by conditional TV selections – with broadcasters likely to leave thousands of supporters out of pocket once more.

The FSF has raised this issue repeatedly with the Premier League for many years, and lobbied the broadcasters directly, requesting more notice, consideration of fans, and financial compensation in certain circumstances.

While there has been some recent progress on flexible rail fares neither clubs nor the Premier League have shown any serious appetite for putting the needs of match-going supporters ahead of broadcaster demands.

Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this article.

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