Last month the FA announced that the Community Shield would be taking place on a Sunday at 5.30pm, a difficult time for Manchester City fans hoping to get down to the game and back in time for work the next day. After a backlash that was revised to 4pm but Manchester City fans are calling for it to be moved to 3pm.
Here the club’s atmosphere group 1894 make their case and say fans must push back against the sway broadcasters have over kick-off times…
We repeat our request to the FA and to ITV to help more fans attend the game by bringing the kick-off time to 3pm.
In the eyes of many fans the very quick decision to move the game from 5.30pm to 4pm and hastily arranged PR releases from the FA came across as them doing the bare minimum and expecting a round of applause for the decision.
The subsequent statement from Debbie Hewitt, chair of the FA, said 4pm was agreed after consultation with the police, the local council and the broadcaster (ITV). However the most important stakeholder was not consulted… the fans!
The Community Shield is a game where fans like to bring their families and take them to Wembley where they may otherwise not always get a ticket.
The context for City fans is that there have been a huge number of trips to Wembley in recent years and so given that City is the club that has qualified on merit and given Arsenal are there by invitation only and the venue is local to for their fans, could more not be done to accommodate Manchester City fans and make things easier for us to attend?
Next year this could be two other Northern teams and a 5.30pm kick-off or later still may be suggested again. We also face 7pm kick-off times on a Sunday in the Premier League from 2024-25. So it is important we try and push back on broadcasters and hopefully fans of other clubs will see this potentially affects us all.
Broadcasters moving the kick-off times is one of the current issues affecting everyone. Fan power ended the super league, it stops price increases, it brought in £30 capped away tickets in the Premier League, it stopped ID cards, it brought in safestanding.
Fans can make a difference – even if a full boycott is not expected at this stage.
It’s hard to sacrifice watching your own team play. However some fans are seeing it is an opportunity to make a statement. It’s not the FA Cup final, it’s not the Champions League final. It is a game in the scheme of things where fans, if they are not valued they can choose to walk away from attending.
We feel 3pm is a fair request to the authorities to allow more people to travel back at a sensible time.
To expect 30,000 fans to travel back north late on a Sunday evening is unfair. Wembley is a great iconic venue but there are challenges getting to and from there so we call on ITV and the FA to help our fans in particular by offering an earlier kick off which allows families to attend.