‘Football is nothing without the fans’.
But how many times have those fans – the ones who pay out their hard-earned money travelling all over the country – been the last ones to be thought of when it comes to the decisions that are made?
Wednesdayites were looking forward to an exciting Easter weekend… The Friday was set to see them take a hefty following down to fellow promotion-chasers, MK Dons, with Hillsborough then expecting a good crowd for the bank holiday game against Crewe Alexandra on the Monday. It could be a huge weekend for their Play-Off aspirations.
But now, with less than four weeks’ notice, those two 3pm kickoffs are now happening at 7.45pm on the Saturday and Tuesday, and just as an added cherry on top there are no trains back to Sheffield after 8.30pm over the weekend – so that’s handy.
And it’s not just the inconvenience, either, though that would’ve been bad enough.
Because it’s not just inconveniencing the fans, it’s actively costing them money… Train trips have been booked, hotels have been paid for, bus trips have been organised – people have flights coming in from outside the country to see their team over the long weekend.
Yeah, there might be a bit of TV money coming in now, but I’d wager that whatever Wednesday pick up from that will be less than what they would have brought in from ticket sales, programmes and the concourses had they been hosting Crewe on Easter Monday.
And that’s just the financial cost. Because it’s more than that. Those thousands of fans – and it will be thousands – who could’ve gone before and can’t go now, can be the difference between a good result and a bad one. For teams like Wednesday, there’s an atmospheric cost as well.
Wednesdayites aren’t the only ones who’ve been shafted by decision-makers this season, and they won’t be the last. Plymouth Argyle fans had to get to Hillsborough for a 12.15pm kickoff not long back, and Manchester City v Liverpool in the FA Cup is currently set to take place at Wembley when there are no trains from the North West that can get to London.
It keeps happening, and the main people that feel the heat of these decisions are the ones who are said to matter the most.
The MK Dons game will be worse off for it. Two teams chasing promotion with a big crowd on a long weekend? It’s the dream away day. But even for Wednesday’s incredible traveling fans – who have sold out pretty much every allocation all season – a trip to Milton Keynes when it’s on TV and there are no trains home that night is a big ask.
Football is nothing without the fans, it’s not a cliché because it’s true. It’d just be nice if they were actually taken into account when it came to the decisions that affect them and their back pockets.