Thursday, 24 March 2011

Club versus Country - A Recurring Argument

Come 3pm on Saturday afternoon, the vast majority of eyes in this country will be focussed on the Millennium Stadium as Wales take on England. That is, apart from about 10,000 (For 10,000 see 7,500) people who will be at Valley Parade to see a run of the mill League Two fixture between City and Shrewsbury.  The game at Valley Parade will be the only Football League fixture to kick off at 3pm on Saturday; many games have seen the kick off time changed and many moved to the Sunday, all in hope of avoiding a dramatic dip in attendances.

There has been much said in the past week or so about the fixture. People blaming City, people blaming The FA, Mark Lawn blaming Shrewsbury for the clash with England. But in reality you can’t please everyone. The most surprising thing to me is that people are still bothered about watching England. It has always been club before country for me, but since the debacle in South Africa I have been turned off by England even more. Give me Gareth Evans ballooning a ball over the Bradford End over Wayne Rooney moaning about fans any day of the week.

But it shouldn’t have come to this. There is a rule in England that states no games can be broadcast on TV at 3pm on a Saturday to protect attendances at smaller clubs, so why The FA agreed to this kick off time is beyond me. To me it shows the disdain The FA has for the lower leagues – not taking into consideration that their fixtures always have and always will be 3 o’clock on a Saturday. Why they couldn’t have kicked off at 5.30pm or even the Sunday is quite frankly baffling.

There is a feeling though that City have not done enough to move the fixture. While I’m not bothered about the England game, many are and the fact that City left it this late to rearrange shows a distinct lack of forward thinking and planning. Some are claiming it is a lack of respect for fans that have already paid for the game with their season ticket; I see it as slack management. When the fixtures came out, Lincoln had rearranged their fixture with Rotherham within two hours. City may point to the fact that Shrewsbury have a game on Tuesday so couldn’t play Sunday, but if they had had the wherewithal to forward plan, this situation wouldn’t be happening.

For what it is worth, I believe the blame lies primarily with The FA. They shouldn’t have arranged a game that clashes with the vast majority of the Football League. To do so shows the regard lower league football is held in by the upper echelons of football, but equally City should’ve had more about them to get the game moved. All that said though, I’ll be at Valley Parade getting behind the lads, probably checking my phone for the England score occasionally.

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