Chelsea and West Ham United fans have accused the Premier League and its broadcasters of treating supporters with “complete contempt” over the re-arrangement of their fixture this coming weekend.
Originally scheduled for a Sunday afternoon kick-off back in July’s Premier League TV selections, the Stamford Bridge fixture has been moved to this Saturday with just five days’ notice.
Chelsea have been drawn to play in the Champions League on Tuesday 6th September, when they travel to Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb, and this forced the late move from a Sunday 2pm kick-off to Saturday 3pm.
“The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and The West Ham United Supporters’ Trust are appalled, yet not surprised, at the predictable farce surrounding the scheduling for the fixture this weekend,” they said.
“All parties have been aware since the fixtures were announced in June, that this game may have to be moved due to UEFA clashes. It is unacceptable that a comprehensive contingency plan was not created in advance to avoid the existing situation. The lack of planning and foresight has had an awful impact on supporters.”
This is the latest incident that highlights the problems with conditional TV picks – where a game is provisionally selected for broadcast even though there is a high risk of it later being moved due to fixture clashes from other competitions.
Disruption caused by TV selections is nothing new to matchgoing supporters. Last season, with just 12 days notice, the Premier League switched kick-off times at West Ham United vs Manchester City and Everton vs Brentford again due to TV and European games clashing.
CST and WHUST said: “Tickets have been bought, accommodation has been booked, travel has been paid for and plans have been confirmed. For supporters to not know the kick-off time five days in advance is deeply unacceptable.
“Supporters are being treated with complete contempt.”
What does the FSA think?
TV’s impact on matchgoing fans has been a source of irritation for years, with more than half of the Premier League’s 380 games now moved from the traditional Saturday afternoon slot for broadcast.
Similarly, Sky Sports’ deal with the EFL sees 138 games moved, with the option to increase that to 158 in the final two years of the contract.
Adding to the frustration has been a lack of communication about the cause of delays to TV selections and fixture rearrangements when clashes emerge.
With neither clubs, the Premier League nor broadcasters taking responsibility, the FSA has been pushing for answers.
In our supporter engagement meetings with the Premier League, fan reps have been told by the league that they will do better, particularly on communication.
But this “predictable farce” of conditional picks is a repeat problem that neither the Premier League nor broadcasters have tackled, despite supporters’ groups flagging it time and again. It isn’t good enough.