Earlier this week, a West Ham fan I know was talking about going to Villa Park for the Hammers match and explaining how it was the only 3pm kick-off in the top league that Saturday and how shocking that was. I agreed. Unfortunately, because he was a little worse for wear, he proceeded to tell me three more times.
The law of diminishing returns ran true and I became less and less enthusiastic in my agreement. By the fourth 'revelation' I found myself thinking 'what's the big deal with 3pm on a Saturday'?
Man United fans have been lamenting the loss of their 3pm kick offs for several years now as TV demands more from the successful teams. Some United fans I know prefer the Noon kick offs anyway as it means the game doesn't dominate the day as it would at 3pm. It probably means many fans are sober enough to actually remember the game, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on which team you are following.
Are people just getting wound up about the 3pm Saturday match because it's something to get wound up about? Or is it something that the increasingly marginalised fans groups are making noises about because it is something that they might actually manage to change and reassert their importance to the sport? The days of non-domestic talent filling team sheets and football 'stars' removed from reality (c.f. Ashely Cole), neither of which can be changed by the fans, I can see how little victories are needed.
As mentioned before, this blog was called 3pm Cottagers as we anticipated most of the games to be played at the default time of 3pm Saturday, but it looks like this will only be the case for around half the games. Is this a big issue? Well not for us I suppose as we all live within 30 minutes from Craven Cottage. However it becomes an issue for those wanting to attend the away game at Anfield in November - a late evening kick off will mean that anyone attending will be getting back to London gone 11pm. Is this unreasonable? What happens if there is a late or early kick off against any of the three teams in the north east? As long as TV and the international markets, get their games no-one seems to care about the supporters. But this is true of big bucks football these days. Teams in the Premiership are getting that much TV money that they need not worry too much about fans actually attending games, as long as the 'supporter-base' is increasingly globally.
The truth is, if you really wanted to watch a match at 3pm all you have to do is ignore the Premiership. Just watching Soccer Saturday demonstrates the sheer number of 3pm kick offs in Britain at all the different tiers. So all the supporters groups will bitch and whine about the loss of football's 'traditional' 3pm kick off, but it seems to me the only thing that has stayed the same since I started watching football is that the Refs are still jumped up pricks. The rules have changed. The balls have changed. The leagues have changed. The grounds have changed. The atmosphere has changed. The only question is why must the Premiership games be shown at 3pm Saturday? I want all games televised and potentially on the end of my remote control. Let's have ALL Premiership games kick off 8pm Saturday. It'll help with the atmosphere and will be enough time to recover from UEFA Cup exertions.