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Late fixture changes frustrate Lionesses fans

The idea of struggling to make an away fixture due to a late change is not alien to football fans. TV has such a massive sway with the schedules that fans are often loath to book travel before hearing confirmation from broadcasters when fixtures will take place, while the prospect of cup replays, Europa League fixtures or the good old British weather can all be a factor in rescheduling our lives at the last minute.

The situation faced by fans of England’s women’s team these past few weeks, however, is somewhat different.

At 2pm on 22nd October the FA announced through its Lionesses Twitter feed that Phil Neville’s team would be playing an away friendly against the Czech Republic in České Budějovice. So far, so normal.

The problem for Lionesses fans, however, is the date of the fixture – 12th November.

With just three weeks notice of the upcoming game, fans were put in the tricky position of having to rearrange their lives at the last minute if they intended on making the trip.

Emma, a season ticket holder at West Ham United women who travelled to this summer’s World Cup told us: “I absolutely want to go to more away matches, but I know that myself and most of the other regular away travelling supporters are becoming frustrated with the fact that they announce so late.

“Short notice travel is notoriously expensive which is one element, but also for some it’s work commitments. Unless you’re lucky enough to work for yourself in a job that’s flexible then these late notice announcements are next to impossible to get to.

“It’s sad really because we all know that the women’s game needs to keep growing, but this prevents what could be a really fun little trip away to support our team with friends and family!”

Another Lionesses regular, who’s been following the team for more than 10 years home and away told us that this was far from an isolated case.

“We have found out about some England games from other countries FAs in the past way before England announce it, so we can plan that way.

“We won’t be going to the Czech Republic game due to the short notice to get the time off work, as well as the price of plane tickets, but we’ve been travelling for years and will continue to do so, regardless of the late announcements from the FA.”

With a record crowd of more than 77,000 fans watching this weekend’s game against Germany at Wembley, the FA have shown that they are able to capitalise on the growth in interest in the Lionesses on the back of record TV viewing figures for this summer’s World Cup.

There is still some way to go, however, when it comes to developing such a fervent travelling support, and these last minute friendlies are just one of the areas in which fans would like to see improvement.

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