Sat Fixtures – Sacred?

Wednesday, 9 April 2003, 0:00
2 mins read

Home > Story Index >Are Saturday FIxtures Sacred?

From the comments sent in to our national survey on the Televising of Football and the voting by members on our future issues, fans have shown their concern over the decreasing number of games being played at the traditional Saturday afternoon slot.

Over the last couple of years the traditional Saturday kick-off has become less commonplace. Four key factors have caused this; the need to accommodate football’s ever more congested fixture schedules; the need for clubs to maximise the revenue pouring in from television; the need for broadcasters to see a return on their investment in football; the police adopting flexible scheduling as a tactic to take the heat out of potentially volatile situations and ensure they have enough officers on duty.

Whatever the causes – many fans don’t like the impact; a reduction in atmosphere, uncertain fixture dates; costly rearrangements of travel plans. The impact of the changes has become so great that groups across the divisions have launched initiatives aimed at preserving this part of the game.

In early 2002 the Norwich Evening News launched Save Our Saturdays after Norwich City received its 13th alteration to the fixture list since the beginning of the season. In December the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust launched a Bring Saturday Back campaign in response to the fact that Spurs went from the 28th September to the 8th February – four and a half months – without playing a Saturday home game. By the end of the season they will have played a maximum of seven out of nineteen home games on a Saturday.

Late March 2003 saw the first protest of the 3PMSAT campaign whose purpose is not only to keep at least 50% of fixtures on Saturday, but at the traditional time of . This first protest took place at Manchester United’s Old Trafford whose supporters, led by the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association, are concerned that by the end of the season the team will have played league games on every day of the week at a total of 16 different kick-off times. The club have currently played only 5 home games at on a Saturday.

Others argue that as the origins of the Saturday afternoon kick-off tradition were developed in the late nineteenth century – due to a factory act that created the first non-Sunday afternoon leisure time for an industrialising society – it is simply no longer relevant either for the congested multi-billion pound world of football or modern society’s work and leisure patterns. Flexible scheduling of matches means a wider variety of people can get to games and it makes it easier for the police to control crowds.

Whatever your opinion the debate is starting to heat up – this issue will be one of many brought up in a lobby of Parliament on April 1st by the Football Supporters Federation. MP’s are also planning to introduce a debate on the matter in the House.

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