Does the fixture computer need a reboot?

It seems to me that when decisions are being made in football, whether it be on ticket prices, when games are played, venues for important matches, kick-off times and so on, that the fans are very low down on the list of considerations.

This viewpoint was emphasised recently when the fixture gurus decided to send Carlisle United to play Plymouth Argyle on a Tuesday night!

The life of a loyal football supporter is tough enough without adding to the challenge of those wanting to attend all of their team’s matches.

Sitting in their armchair listening to a local radio commentary or following the game via Sky or social media simply doesn’t hack it for some of the hardiest of souls.

For 169 Carlisle fans they just had to embark on a 779-mile midweek round trip to see their boys in action; the longest journey in the Football League.

To make matters worse for those hardiest fans, or maddest as some might unfairly say, they didn’t get to see much action from their side and had to endure watching a heavy 4-1 defeat.

Even the Pilgrims boss Derek Adams commented to the BBC that it was “unfair” that Carlisle had to make such a mammoth journey on a Tuesday evening.

One female Carlisle fan who travelled to Home Park told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We’re a bunch of hardy souls. It’s nothing that we haven’t been used to before.

“For us, it’s a trip we were going to have to make to watch them whenever it was going to be.

“I don’t know who came up with putting it on a Tuesday night, but I’d like to have a little word with them.”

Out of curiosity, I decided to have a look at the fixture list for the next round of midweek fixtures scheduled for mid-September.

The first thing that that struck me was the destination of my own team Hull City, who face a 500 mile round trip in order to enjoy the delights of Cardiff City.

What makes this scheduling more bizarre than it first appears is that there are five other Yorkshire teams in the Championship,

Those nice fixture folk could have easily set us up with a cracking derby game under floodlights – with a big crowd and big atmosphere guaranteed.

With the help of that useful AA route planner, I reckon the trip to South Wales clocks in at an approximate 500-mile round trip.

In the same round of midweek fixtures, Rotherham United have a similar eight-hour return journey to Brighton & Hove Albion, whilst Brentford face a similarly long trip to Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers have to get themselves to London to face Queens Park Rangers.

To try to prove that the fixture computer was seriously in need to turning off and back on again, I also looked at the Christmas and New Year fixtures and was amazed to see that the majority of fixtures looked remarkably sensible.

But hang on, that ‘Control, Alt, Delete’ process might be needed after all.
The game that stood out by miles for me is on 2 January and, very ironically, involves Plymouth Argyle.

Someone somewhere has clearly decided to extract sweet revenge. So, guess where Pilgrim fans have to voyage to, complete with their New Year hangovers?

You guessed it, and you couldn’t make it up – Carlisle United!!

All this madness and frustration for fans is even before digital TV starts moving very appetising games from their traditional 3pm kick off time to Thursday, Friday and Monday nights for the benefit of the armchair viewer.

In my humble opinion, this coupled with ticket prices, is in danger of stifling our glorious game as, without the spectacle of full stadiums and cracking atmospheres, the appeal of watching a televised game diminishes, as does the match day experience of those fans actually at the game.

Does the fixture computer need a reboot?

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