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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

BT messing the paying fans about for no reason

It's all about the armchair


Let me start this piece by saying that, due to the scheduling of the Coventry City game, I can actually now attend it, rather than missing it due to work. That doesn't make the game being played on a Friday night any better, however. Having said that, from a personal viewpoint I would rather play Friday evenings than any other day apart from Saturday.
Of course I am in a minority in being in favour of Friday football over Sunday or, even worse, Monday night. What it means on this occasion is the chance of a damn good day out in London for a lot of families following Coventry City will be taken away. Similarly, being drawn against a League One side will probably see a number of casual fans decide they can't be bothered, leaving more tickets available (and at Category C prices they become very affordable) for Arsenal families as well. With the game being switched to Friday the kids will still be at school on the day of the game. If you're having to travel a long way to get to the game you can now forget about it. The only people who benefit from such TV disruption are the ones who never go. I fully understand that many fans can't afford to go to games and that Arsenal being live on TV helps them to see the boys, but it can't be right that the paying, match-going supporter is the one that is always being messed about.
If someone can tell me why Arsenal v Coventry City has been selected for live TV I would be interested to hear. The draw for round four is lacking in mouth-watering ties, and a shock would be great viewing obviously, but Arsenal are the home team making that less likely (in theory). If the game was away for Arsenal I could see the sense in it being on the box (though Coventry don't actually have a home themselves at the moment). I strongly suspect that the only reason Arsenal are on TV in this game is because they're the biggest viewer grabber still in the competition - the replacement for Manchester United, if you will.
Something I noticed last Saturday was how few matches kicked off in the third round at 3 o'clock. When Wigan beat Man City in the Cup Final last May I thought it gave the old competition a real shot in the arm. The late winner for the underdog captured the very essence of the FA Cup despite the TV companies and the FA doing their best to devalue it in every conceivable fashion. I had hoped that the reaction to Wigan's victory might show the FA that there is life in the old dog yet, and that the fans love the FA Cup. Sadly, things like Arsenal's fourth round tie being switched to Friday night show that the FA are completely disinterested in their own competition. In their defence, the actions of reasonably sized Premier League sides in fielding weakened selections in the last round is even worse for the competition. The fans of Aston Villa stayed away, and who can blame them after what Paul Lambert said last Friday?
I'll close on a positive, and I'm sure someone will come up with something to show I am wrong, but I only recall Arsenal losing once on a Friday in many a long year. We've actually played more Friday games than you'd think (the Invincible season saw three of the nineteen home matches played on a Friday - we won each of them). Most memorable of the Friday victories is the win at Anfield in 1989, of course, so perhaps it's not all bad. The only defeat I can recall on a Friday was in 1988, just before the League Cup Final, when we went down 0-1 to a Watford side about to be relegated on a night of foul weather at Highbury. If we can keep up our fine record on Friday's against a Coventry side who really ought to be swatted by any Arsenal team with the right attitude, then I suppose we won't be moaning too much. That doesn't make it right, however.

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