Paul Whitehouse’s Aviva ad with the ‘Green Army’ hitting the road to watch Plymouth Argyle at Newcastle is a classic. Okay, maybe the game’s fictitious as far as Premier League fixtures go. But the reality of the time and expense for travelling away fans this Christmas was no laughing matter.
Irrespective of whether you can afford a petrol bill equivalent to Dick Mar Van Nostril Boy’s wages or not, the distances between the teams in the Premier League fixtures on Saturday 22nd December were ridiculous.
At a time when you need to be spending time at home getting ready for Santa, every single game entailed a huge round trip. And when you start adding the price of petrol on top of the over-priced tickets, it’s an expense you could do without at this time of year.
Premier League fixtures at holiday time need more forethought
It’s easy to poke fun at the Janners in Whitehouse’s advert. But many football fans will follow their team come Hell or high water. In the post-Bhati Brothers era that saw Wolves’ teeter on the brink of winding up, trips to Brentford, Tranmere and Barnsley were commonplace. And those were the glamour fixtures.
In a strange turnaround, it is these lower league football fixtures that seem to have accommodated fans’ need for derby – or at least local – games over Christmas. Premier league fixtures on the other hand have no such forethought.
As Patrick Collins surmised in his recent article in the Daily Mail, football fans remain
faceless legions who can be shunted around the country at the whim of a lazy fixture scheduler or an arrogant television executive.
But it wasn’t only the distance of the round-trip fans had to contend with on Saturday. The Great British weather was also a factor. And not because of unplayable pitches, either.
The West Bromwich Albion football team didn’t arrive at Loftus Road until 2:00pm. Kick Off was subsequently delayed, making the day out to London an even longer one for the Baggies’ fans.
The blame was laid firmly at the feet of road closures due to flood warnings and the subsequent traffic in and around London.
It was the only one of the Premier league fixtures to be affected, but games from other divisions were also affected thus.
As you can see from the table above, the shortest round trip was 316.2 miles. For the Stoke fans travelling down the M6 (no picnic in its own rite) it would amaze me if any were away from home for less than eight hours.
And as for the Sunderland fans making the trip down to Southampton, sixteen hours minimum and the day after to recover. That’s just what every family needs two days before Santa arrives, arguments about ‘the bloody football’, innit?
Have Your Say:
- Should Premier League fixtures be organised around locality over the festive period?
- Or do the male-dominant away supporters actually like the excuse to be out of the way in the run up to Christmas that these distances entail?