Alex Miller: Sheffield Wednesday's Portsmouth fixture hokey-cokey is a disgrace - and TV companies should be ashamed
Set to the music of Guy Garvey and bathed in black and white, Sky Sports laid it on thick. Football without the fans, they so correctly surmised, is nothing.
The montages were endless. With their spokesperson-in-chief Gary Neville beating his chest, it was Sky Sports that rallied the troops to rouse enough anger and force greedy superclubs to throw the European Super League plans in the sea.
This, they told us, was a victory for the fans. But, they told us over and over, it was a victory that couldn’t have been achieved without them. Led by Uncle Gary, the message was that ‘they’re looking after us’. They were the champions of the great unwashed.
It has proven, as if we didn’t already know, to be absolute tosh. The Sky Sports machine has utter contempt for the experience of football fans and have proven it with one of the most disgraceful displays of scheduling and subsequent re-scheduling in memory.
In switching Sheffield Wednesday’s trip to Portsmouth next month not once but twice, just three weeks before the Owls die hards make the four-to-five hour trip and shell out on hotels and trains and whatever else they will have booked and re-booked, they’ve finally cracked the veneer of respectability. It’s an absolute disgrace.
Their Super League intervention was a battle fuelled entirely by their own interests. And for the working class supporters who have taken hits on rescheduling fees, wasted fares and rooms, they do not care a jot.
Why has the match been switched back to its original date? After they brushed aside Wednesday in the FA Cup, the fixture hokey-cokey has been danced to ensure Plymouth can to make a five-hour trip to either Rochdale or Nottingham for an ITV-enforced 12:15pm Sunday kick-off.
With Plymouth also due to play on TV on the following Tuesday evening, the games had to be switched and the Owls match has had to revert to its original date.
This all comes after 600 Plymouth fans made that same early hours trip up to Hillsborough in the previous round of the FA Cup, by the way.
Tuesday evening’s result at Home Park was out of the scheduler’s hands, they might suggest, as if the decision-making folk high up in such an organisation don’t have access to a calendar and half a moment’s forethought.
So where are we now? Where is the place of a football fan in this sorry, power-thirsty, uber-capitalist football industry? It’s not too long since we saw what the professional game is like without supporters and it was a sad, soulless imitation of culture. They kept telling us so on Sky Sports, after all.
Months later, this is how that renewed, enthusiastic and unwavering commitment is re-paid; with sneering contempt and a shrug of the shoulders.
The lifeblood atmosphere that travelling supporters give televised football has for too long been taken for granted.
And while those television companies hold the purse strings to clubs’ very existence, the power is theirs and has ever been thus. In football as in life, those who have the money have the power and in truth there’s little way out. We’re all slaves to the system.
But we can at least ask them to be honest about it. Stuff your montages somewhere else lads.