Last-minute fixture changes, public transport woes and general disregard for football fans. As TV broadcasters increasingly offer additional live football coverage, devoted Premier League fans are turning to Coach Hire Comparison to guarantee they can witness their favourite clubs play.
Broadcasters putting potential viewing figures before fan logistics is not a new thing, this has been made increasingly complicated over the last 2 years due to numerous rail strikes and train schedules, but even with public transport, some fixtures are virtually impossible to attend.
Matt Hanson, the Head of Coach Hire Comparison, has observed a significant increase in inquiries on the site following the Christmas season. With data playing a crucial role in the site's evolution, it is very evident that broadcasters prioritise their potential viewer numbers over the logistical considerations for dedicated fans.
Matt commented: “There is a blatant disregard for the football fan. There have been a few fixture changes that have left supporters scratching their heads. Just before Christmas, the Premier League announced that Newcastle will travel to Arsenal for an 8pm kick-off on the 24th of February due to TNT securing the rights. The last train out of London Kings Cross to Newcastle is at 9pm, meaning it would be impossible to watch a minute of the action. Newcastle fans face the prospect of an expensive weekend in London, find their own way or to secure coach travel for the day. The latter is far more cost-effective and as a result, CHC is seeing a huge spike, particularly with strong followings like the Toon Army.”
Matt continued: “The recent Burnley v Luton Town fixture must have been the most caveated fixture in Premier League history with several permutations in place as to when the fixture would take place having originally been scheduled for Monday 15th January. We had bookings in place from Luton Town supporter's groups and following their draw against Bolton in the FA Cup, the game was moved to Friday 12th January, giving both sets of supporters just five days' notice. Like the Newcastle fans heading to Arsenal, Luton fans had to rely heavily on coach travel to follow their team.”
Newcastle fans going to London could impact another North East club because of the Arsenal fixture. Middlesbrough has done well in the Carabao Cup, reaching the Semi-Finals. The Final is at Wembley Stadium on February 25th, shortly after coaches return from London. With a 1-0 lead over Chelsea, Middlesbrough is close to reaching Wembley, playing the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening.
James Stokes, CHC's Managing Director confirmed: “The potential impact on Middlesbrough fans could be huge if they get through. We have spoken to several of our local suppliers, and they are moving supporters on Saturday. The coaches will be double-manned meaning that even if the coaches will be back and available for use on the Sunday, which is quite tight, there will be nobody to step behind the wheel of what will again be a double-manned requirement. There is extremely limited driver availability which means many operators will be looking at agency drivers or simply saying they have nothing left. This will mean utilising coach operators from other areas which will result in increased pricing, hitting supporters with inflated travel costs. With an allocation of circa 30,000, it could get rather interesting around the travel movements. The train again presents potential problems with a kick-off of 1630 and a final service to Middlesbrough being at 2000. If they do qualify, fans will be dreading the implications of extra time!”
Coach Hire Comparison continues to receive 'hypothetical' inquiries on the site, which is not uncommon during events around Wembley. James concluded: “We see excited fans looking at the potential of reaching a Cup or Play Off Final looking well in advance. However, the recent surge has no doubt been influenced by the broadcasters' failure to take the supporters into account. At Coach Hire Comparison we can offer simple, effective, and affordable solutions to any supporters group providing a door to stadium service as we help overcome these obstacles.”
The Carabao Cup Semi-Finals wrap up this week, featuring Chelsea hosting Middlesbrough and Liverpool travelling to Fulham. The outcome hinges on London SW6, where Boro fans hope for their first Wembley visit in nearly 34 years. As for the broadcasters, they likely prefer the more glamorous final of Liverpool versus Chelsea…
Explore www.coachhirecomparison.co.uk for all your team travel needs. We cover all of Great Britain and encourage inquiries from supporters' groups, as well as both professional and amateur teams.