A Newcastle United fans group has criticised “greedy” broadcasters for “making a mockery” of English football’s ‘Green Football Weekend’ (GFW) by scheduling matches at “disgusting kick-off times”.
Ahead of Newcastle’s Premier League home match against Luton Town, Wor Flags’ pre-match display cited recent away fixtures which have been at times that have prevented away fans from travelling back on public transfer the same day. The banner reads, “TV before fans.”
In the Premier League, for example, Newcastle had an 8pm kick-off on New Year’s Day at Liverpool, an 8.15pm kick-off at Aston Villa last Tuesday and will travel to Arsenal for a Saturday 8pm kick-off later this month. Their FA Cup fourth-round tie at Fulham last month was also at 7pm on a Saturday.
GFW seeks to use the power of football to encourage and empower people to make sustainable changes to their lives, with the focus this year on a greater consumption of plant-based meals. Newcastle United and Newcastle City Council offered free matchday travel to supporters for the Luton match by subsidising public transport.
Green Football Weekend is well intentioned but full of hypocrisy
Eddie Howe, Newcastle’s head coach, and several first-team players have expressed sympathy for supporters and have thanked them for their commitment by selling out away ends in their thousands regardless. Newcastle, like all Premier League clubs, have signed agreements with broadcasters permitting the kick-off times, ceding control of scheduling.
“Today’s display in the Gallowgate is dedicated to highlighting the disgusting kick-off times that have been afforded to us by broadcasters in both the Premier League and the FA Cup since the turn of the year, making a mockery of the Green Football Weekend which is being celebrated by certain broadcasters,” Wor Flags said in a statement.
“Newcastle United fans are some of the most passionate and loyal fans around, dedicated to following our team around the country. It is that dedication and passion that is completely taken for granted by TV companies and football’s governing bodies. To date, we have only had one Saturday 3pm kick-off away from home this season.
“The cost of being a football fan is getting ever greater, with increased costs on trains, buses and fuel for cars making it an expensive venture, yet the incessant attitude of putting match-going fans last is putting huge strain on supporters.
“Whilst we still fill away ends, we have not forgotten about those fans priced out by the greed in the game, those who made English football so attractive to the world audience.
“Late announcements of games to suit broadcasters and those watching on TV has a huge impact on the fans they all claim are the lifeblood of the game.
“We are calling on broadcasters, the Premier League, The FA and the clubs to do more for match-going fans. Stop with the unsociable kick-off times, make it fairer for fans travelling and stop your greed.”
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(Photo: The Athletic)