Arsenal blogger Vic Crescit has a good, old-fashioned rant about the FA's decision to move its showpiece event to a tea-time kick-off.
It’s official. The FA doesn’t give a monkey’s about the professional game’s most loyal supporters – the fans.
Back in 2011 when the organisation and marketing of the world’s oldest football competition was last reviewed by the FA the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) saw the writing on the wall – the FA’s marketing people wanted the FA Cup Final to kick-off at Saturday tea-time. The reason? You guessed it. Television.
Ratings are always higher for programmes broadcast at weekend tea-times than weekend afternoons, whether it’s the FA Cup Final or a ten-year-old repeat of an episode of “Come Dancing”. More people are watching TV then because more people are at home. This means more “casual” viewers who’re watching because they happen to be at home rather than having made a point of it.
Being an Arsenal supporter living in Islington it’s no great inconvenience for me to get to Wembley for a Saturday tea-time kick-off and home again afterwards even if there’s extra time and penalties (penalties? There should be a replay, but that’s another story). The same is not true for Manchester City and Wigan Athletic fans, however, neither of whom will be able to get home again on public transport after the final.
The FSF's formal written response to the FA said that a tea-time kick-off should only be contemplated where both sets of fans could comfortably return to their club’s home town or city by public transport after the final, even if extra time and penalties were necessary. The FSF could see that the FA could earn additional TV money with a tea-time kick-off. It didn’t oppose change for the sake of it. It merely wanted to protect the interests of supporters. The FA’s response? What do you think?
Let’s look at the record as far as the FA Cup goes: abolishing semi-final and final replays, moving all semi-finals to Wembley and tea-time kick-offs have all been widely opposed by fans, and their concerns widely ignored by the FA, who clearly don’t give a monkey’s what fans think. Secondly all the changes have been at the urging of the Premier League which would much rather all FA Cup replays were abolished. Thirdly those changes that aren’t at the behest of the Greed Is Good League are all designed to make more money.
All in all the FA should never be confused with an organisation that gives a flying bonk about the average ticket-buying, match-going fan. As far as they’re concerned we’re turnstile fodder, "extras" in a TV extravaganza where we – mugs that we are – pay for the “privilege” of being “extras”, enhancing the FA’s TV “inventory” (matches to you and me). Rather than us being rewarded for our loyalty the FA takes the Micky out of us. More fool us for standing for it.
The FA once again has shown how the mind can triumph over matter. They don’t mind, and we don’t matter. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. The game’s guardian and governing body? My large, spotty rear end!
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