In news that surprised nobody, another Newcastle United fixture on the south coast has been made more difficult for supporters to attend.
Our February fixture away to Bournemouth has been moved to a 5.30pm kickoff, meaning supporters won’t be able to travel home on the train unless they’re willing to leave the match 20 minutes early – which kind of defeats the point of travelling all that way.
It leaves supporters with the choice of a long journey via road – around eight hours each way on the bus – or another expensive overnight stay. This happened only last season when our away fixture at Brighton was moved to the 5.30pm game.
When will Sky Sports or the Premier League consider away supporters? Especially those that travel the furthest in the entire country?
It was rightly pointed out that Brighton supporters will be in a similar predicament for their trip to St James, which is 12.30pm on a Saturday, and I feel for them. I’d imagine their buses will have to set off around the 2am mark – yikes.
But this does seem to be a frequent occurrence with Newcastle, and it’s all the more frustrating when we consistently have the furthest distances to travel.
I’ve been to both south coast aways this season on the bus, and it’s an absolute killer. 3am and 4am starts (and I’m a bit lucky living a ten-minute walk from the ground) and sweaty 16-hour round trips both times. The trip to Brighton fell on one of the hottest days of the year and the bus hit 40 degrees at one point, while the heating broke and couldn’t be turned off on the way back from Southampton.
Long journeys are sometimes necessary when it comes to following your team all over the country, but surely there should be some thought and consideration for the people making those journeys?
5.30pm isn’t the only available TV slot, so couldn’t it have been moved to 4pm on the Sunday? And if that’s not possible, is it going to be the end of the world if it’s not on Sky?
The other viable option is staying over, because there aren’t flights that’ll allow supporters to see the whole game and get back to the airport in time. And while it’s mint to have the occasional stopover after an away game (Liverpool aways are always my first choice), it’s not always financially viable.
Train strikes were the reason I travelled on the bus to both Brighton and Southampton, and while they’re a massive inconvenience, that’s the point. The strikes have a purpose, a meaning, a hopefully positive outcome (eventually). But what’s the purpose of moving this fixture to one of the worst possible kick-off times?
It’s inevitable that we’re going to be on the telly more as we get better and (hopefully) become a trophy-winning club once again. But supporters have to be considered. Had this been a trip to Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Shame on Sky Sports once again.