It was announced this week that Reading would be getting their second visit of the season from the Sky Sports cameras. After the Royals lost 2-1 to Norwich City in a late Saturday game, they will now face Cardiff City on December 11 - a Monday night.
That fixture had originally been down as a standard Saturday afternoon kick off, but the change potentially makes life difficult for thousands of Reading and Cardiff fans who’d want to come to the game.
We asked Reading and Cardiff-supporting writers to give their takes on the issue - should the game have been moved in the first place? And how will all this affect supporters?
Dan Lewis: This is now very much the norm
Dan is a Cardiff City fan who writes for Goal and SportsMole. He tweets from @Daniel_Lewis92
After initially missing out on Sky's picks for the first two months of televised matches, four games have now been selected following City's bright start to the campaign - the one downside to a promotion push! The first of those, against Leeds last week, made little difference as the game still took place at the originally set time, although the attendance would have surpassed the 30,000 mark had it not been on TV.
The second, a trip to Birmingham when club action resumes, has made things very awkward for fans with the game being switched at a fairly late date, with many now unable to book time off work. Our trip to Bristol City is the most awkward of all - moved from 3pm on a Saturday to 12pm on a Saturday to 7.45pm on a Friday night and now, finally, back to midday on the Saturday.
As for the Reading fixture, I have no particular complaints about playing it on a weekday night, as such, with it traditionally being one of our shortest trips of the season. It does mean, however, that Cardiff will go a whole month without a Saturday kickoff - games against Forest, Norwich and Reading all now being shifted.
Yet again the fans come second, but can we really complain? This is, after all, a division that sees Norwich City travel to South Wales on a Friday evening in December - a near-550-mile-round trip. As frustrating as it is, it is now very much the norm and something supporters are accustomed to. Expect a near-sold-out away end, regardless!
Jordan Jones: Cardiff will take plenty of fans anyway
Jordan is also a Cardiff fan - he is editor of Inside Wales Sport, and tweets from @JordsAlexJones
From a Cardiff perspective I think this is the perfect opportunity to highlight how good this side is if they’re still challenging for a top six spot come Christmas time. Fans are quick to mention if they feel their team is being undersold but also the first to complain if their game is moved to a different day.
I’d agree with Dan’s analogy that the Bristol City game is the most frustrating as I’m a massive fan of televised and non-televised Friday football and I think it should be considered more by clubs who are willing to do so.
Ask a lot of Cardiff fans and they’ll say that Reading is one of the most enjoyable away days, with both clubs fair on prices for away fans. The two have built a small rivalry after playing each other a number of times in the play-offs, as well as Cardiff taking a number of players from the Royals.
I remember Cardiff taking an impressive 3.6k fans to the Madejski in Malky Mackay’s first season and if the Bluebirds are still firing on all cylinders, I predict a similar figure next time round.
Dave Harris: Fixture rearrangements are a necessary evil in the modern day game
TTE’s very own Handbags Harris tweets from @Handbags82
Take your modern day professional football club, add a fair sprinkling of TV, and you end up with an increasingly volatile mixture. Much to the chagrin of the modern day football supporter, the twain shall never be separated. It’s easy to understand why supporters direct their ire towards their clubs, the EFL and Sky (and of course BT Sport for Premier and National League supporters). All too often clubs have fixtures moved with just a few week’s notice, mainly towards the end of seasons when the final dozen or so fixtures are bearing out towards the top of the Premier League or Championship, but certainly not alien to the beginning – for example, Premier League clubs only found out whether they would be domestically televised on 10 July this year, just four weeks before the commencement of the new season.
On Monday we learnt of Reading FC’s latest fixture movement for TV, the home fixture against Cardiff City which was initially allocated a regular Saturday 3pm slot in December only for it to be moved for TV viewer’s pleasure to a Monday 8pm slot on 11 December. This will be the second fixture movement this season which, in truth, is about as good as it can get for a Championship club. Irritating as it is, particularly for those of us who reside outside of the Reading area, the brutal truth of the matter is that this fixture has been moved with a day shy of 10 week’s notice – plenty of time for supporters to plan to attend.
Granted, later on in the season fixtures will be moved with much less time for supporters to plan, however the EFL, Premier League and Sky do aim to provide at least six week’s notice, an unwritten rule installed partly thanks to continued pressure from the Football Supporter’s Federation and Supporter’s Direct, two excellent organisations that fight tooth and nail for the match-going fan. Having said that, the six-week rule is regularly breached which leads many to wonder why it is there in the first place.
Of course, the two Royals matches televised this season happen to be home fixtures, not so bad for those of us who bleed proper blue and white hoops. Norwich supporters will probably have been irked by the change on Saturday, although again they had a more than reasonable timeframe to make arrangements to attend. Norwich to Reading and return is not too much of an issue for a 5.30 pm kick off, and likewise Cardiff fans (who will almost certainly travel in four figures) will probably pack out the two direct trains to South Wales available after full-time or head back across the Severn Bridges in reasonably quick time. It will still, however, mean early hours to bed for the away contingent and maybe an additional half day’s annual leave for many that they otherwise wouldn’t have required.
The rub though, really, is that modern day football and television are so far intertwined as to be nigh on inseparable. Take away the television, you remove the largest funding stream available to most clubs, particularly in the Premier League and Championship. Granted, it is obvious that the balance of power has skewed too far for comfort in favour of TV companies whose scheduling and PR departments pay absolutely no heed to the matchgoing spectator, but the clubs in many ways are held over a barrel as to reject the opportunity to receive £600 million collectively plus facility fees when the next TV deal commences is very much nose cutting territory.
Additionally, supporters of clubs, particularly the biggest clubs, do themselves no favours by either continually packing out away ends regardless of kick off time, and paying their subscription fees to the very TV companies they loathe. TV companies know this and so take supporters for granted, and if it gets too bad then a boycott of either televised fixtures or subscription sport would be the way forward for me. However, if that does not materialise then we will need continued campaigning for a better deal for the matchgoing fan, including the very issue of TV scheduling. One thing’s for sure though – TV ain’t going nowhere for now. And it could be much worse, we could be Leeds fans!!