Date: 15th December 2018 at 11:46am
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Norwich City fans will have to endure late/re-arranged kick-off times for three games in the New Year after TV selection and Police intervention in the schedules.

The home match with Birmingham City has been changed to Friday January 18th with  a 7.45pm kick-off.

The away match with Leeds United on Saturday February 2nd has had the kick-off time set back to 5.30pm.

The home game with Ipswich Town on Sunday February 10th has a noon kick-off.

This is an event that occurs multiple times to all teams in the league, especially those that are doing well or, later in the season, those that are struggling. I am one of those old school fans that like football to be played at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and anything different just feels a bit wrong.

I’m old enough to remember when a change to any other time or date was an unusual event and a few years back, when they played the FA Cup final at 5 pm, I remember thinking “Is nothing sacred? The game’s gone.”

I guess that home game changes aren’t quite so disruptive to home fans but if you’re a member of the travelling Canary faithful, then this can be a big deal. Not just the Canary faithful either, any set of supporters of any team are at risk of it and the further the distance, the worse it gets.

This Leeds change isn’t great for us, is it?

A drive to Elland Road is going to take around 3-4 hours and the later kick off is the difference between getting back to Norwich at about 9 pm or after midnight.

It’s going to be the same sort of thing for the Birmingham City fans too, who have to now contend with a Friday evening match in Norfolk that is likely to mean getting off work early which isn’t always easy depending on your boss.

It’s not just Sky Sports either. A lot of game changes aren’t even down to British TV companies wanting to show matches. There are foreign TV schedules to contend with as well, meaning that the number of changes increases. An example of that is the upcoming third round FA Cup tie against Portsmouth. It’s a 5.30pmkick-off because the game has been picked for a foreign TV showing.

There are, of course, financial benefits to the clubs involved, although it’s only being in the Premier League that swells your coffers to any great extent. The promotion of English football, particularly the Premier League, as a global entertainment brand has had plenty of media attention in recent years meaning both good and bad for the English football fan.

The Sky Sports showing of the East Anglian derby at noon on a Sunday though, will be down to the local Constabulary and their fear of trouble between the two sets of fans.

I tend to think that this is a bit of an old-fashioned idea though because if a Steel City derby or a Villa v Birmingham derby game can be shown on a Friday night then why can’t the much less vitriolic East Anglian derby?

The fact that this game was going to be selected for live TV was almost a given, what with Norwich currently occupying the top spot in the table and Ipswich languishing in the bottom position. I can imagine the Sky TV execs rubbing their hands together at the thought of that one.

Is there really much trouble at Norwich v Ipswich games though?

My experience of them in recent years is that much of the “trouble” is not helped by Police tactics. Why don’t the Suffolk and Norfolk Constabularies just decide to keep the away fans in the ground for 20 minutes after the game, thus avoiding the sorts of confrontations I’ve seen recently?

I imagine someone will put me straight on this, something to do with human rights, or “kettling” people, perhaps?

If they were to just do this, then the home crowds would subside and leave it a lot more manageable for the boys in blue. Rather than release 27,000 people all at the same time. Anyone got any experience of a Steel City derby? What happens there?

Anyway, I understand the financial implications and rewards for the clubs involved but I can’t help but yearn for the days when football was played at 3 pm on a Saturday. In these days of instant gratification (on any subject matter) and on-demand broadcasting, I doubt this situation is ever going to go back to what it was, which in my opinion is a real shame.


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