Is Monday night football a step too far?
There has been a gradual progression of Premier League football away from all the games kicking off at the same time. It used to be a traditional three o’ clock on a Saturday afternoon, no exceptions. Super Sunday then became a seemingly immovable fixture in our footballing calendars every week. Is Monday football though the point where we say enough is enough?
It has been a long time since the TV companies paid any regard for the fans travelling and watching the games. The 30 day rule of notice where a game can be changed for TV stops any sort of monetary saving for the matches and the real world doesn’t stop for football. The trip to Fulham, there and back, for Newcastle fans, this Monday, shows how painfully out of touch the footballing powers are with the supporters.
Those who are working would realistically have to at minimum take half a day off Monday off and possibly some of Tuesday off work to accommodate the travel to London and then home to Newcastle after the game. If they are relying on public transport then this can be increasingly fraught with danger. The trains are particularly unforgiving if you are 1 minute late, it departs and has no remorse for the football fan who has shown dedication to watch their side lose 2-1 in the bitter cold. There is also that heavily patronizing automated speaker which apologises incredibly for the delay to your service which means that an away trip could continue long into the early hours of the next morning.
The moving of games from a Saturday to a Sunday you can almost accept in a sense. For the teams in the Europa League it gives them an extra day’s window of rest. It can also be used to separate and appreciate those special fixtures the fans look forward to every season. The switch isn’t necessarily welcomed, because of all the strange times it throws up, such as the 12.45 or 1.30 kick offs. I am sure the Swansea fans are hardly delighted at having to ensure they arrive at White Hart Lane in time for 1.30. I suspect that most would have to take the hit of driving down with the logistics of public transport to such a game being difficult. I am sure the Swansea fans will feel far from super at the ludicrous time some will have to wake up on Sunday morning to play their part in the proceedings at Tottenham. This said, at least they know that when the game is finished they can be home in plenty of time for work on Monday morning.
Another factor completely disregarded is the disruption to a working week. The sense of realism has escaped those at Sky who seem to have forgotten the logistics of working. If one of their employees with less than 30 days’ notice asked for an accumulated day off work to follow their football team, I can imagine the muted reception that would receive. Also days you can book off with annual leave are so few and far between, which makes them so precious, the usual figure being around 20 days a year. These are usually used these for emergencies, or a holiday in the summer with the family when the football takes a short break. It shows a lack of any sensitivity from the TV money men.
I am sure employers won’t be delighted to see their employee desperately tired so early on in the week after going to the football on the Monday. This means that a lot of fans have to make the logical decision to avoid these games. The experience of watching and going to live football is never adequately replaced by the analysis of Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain. This sort of behaviour just encourages armchair support and the isolation of the real football fans that represent everything that is great about this game. It forces football fans to have to ignore games they may desperately want to go to. The Manchester derby being placed on a Monday night last season was pure lunacy. This game was so pivotal in the title campaign and for those unable to compensate for football during their working week, it must have been a blow miss such a game. If it is a European game then it can be justified as a one off experience and an opportunity to watch a different style of football. Even this is so expensive that it can only be done by most once a season, for the lucky few that can afford it.
The domestic football we have on offer will always be the same every day of the week and the only addition Monday’s provide is price. Those at Sky and other TV Companies does not deserve to be awarded this luxury of being able to monopolise Monday night’s and pick teams to play it’s games when it so chooses. The Christmas calendar throws up all sorts of midweek games which are gruelling for all teams, and Monday night football is a headache we could do without.