Saturday at 3PM

Football 3pm

The next round of television rights for the product that is the Premier League is about to be negotiated, and various proposals are being presented by the media companies that will give the once ‘beautiful game’ even greater riches in exchange for even greater flexibility as to when games are played; and the notice period that has to be given in announcing televised fixtures.

Potentially this means that we will see ‘live’ games on TV from Friday through to Wednesday evening.

We have already witnessed the further dilution of our once feted FA Cup this season, with TV insisting on 3rd Round ties being played on a Tuesday night – meaning that the 4th Round draw had taken place before some of the previous round of games had been completed. Now, night time kick offs and even more bizarre kick off times look likely to be introduced as FA Premier League bosses prioritise the chasing of the shilling over the interest of supporters.

There is no doubt that the Premier League has been more of a force for good, with greater investment in stadium facilities; a more family friendly environment at most grounds; and a competition that is the UKs most successful export product.

Nevertheless, the Television viewing public, whether they be in the pubs of Moss Side and Walton or the bars of Delhi and Shanghai, are as hooked on the ‘product’ not simply because of the unpredictability of the result and the patchy quality of football on offer, but by the fabulous atmosphere that is generated by fervent, bonkers supporters of English football clubs.

If the powers that be continue to mess around with fixture planning and kick off times, then attendances will, sooner or later, begin to be hit – and when that happens the FA will find themselves in a much more difficult round of negotiations with the media outlets than has been the case thus far.

There is a simple solution to all of this nonsense. We should go back to the entire weekend programme being played on a Saturday at 3PM.

The argument that this would adversely affect attendances is patently nonsense now, as any football supporter who wants to watch a game live via a TV, iPad or laptop can easily find a channel that is streaming the game of their choice – or find a pub that has a foreign channel showing the game.

Saturday at 3 O Clock is the traditional time for football in England. It fits with our culture, and offers supporters the certainty of planning their match days, whilst also significantly reducing the number of ‘domestics’ as fans justify to their partners why they are having to leave the family home at 8.30am to watch a football game that starts at 11.30am (Man City vs Everton a couple of seasons ago).

There is a case for playing a ‘headline’ game on Sunday at 4pm, but other than this, for me, it’s Saturday’s all the way.

And if we could also convince UEFA to see the sense of re-introducing a knock our UEFA Cup, played on Wednesday night, rather than the crazy Thursday evening Europa League, we’d really be making some progress.

And we’re off… or are we?


The Premier League season officially kicked off on Saturday, and it is great to see the Northwest with five teams in the top division again, with the mighty Burnley joining their more established Merseyside and Manchester peers.

I was at Leicester to see Everton draw their opening fixture on Saturday, and like all avid football followers watched the highlights of all the other games on Match of the Day, enjoying the beginning of the inevitable renaissance that Man United will enjoy now that they have a foreign manager – oops, maybe not!

But, as much as it was nice to have the ‘beautiful game’ back after what was an even shorter break than usual due to the World Cup, you can’t help but have the feeling that we have got off to a bit of a false start. Indeed, until the transfer window closes at the end of this month we don’t actually know which players each club will have available to select for the remainder of the campaign.

This is a ridiculous anomaly that supporters are used to; but what has added to the ‘phony war’ environment this term is the fact that those players returning from World Cup duty were not deemed fit to play.

I can’t understand why the powers that be didn’t put back the opening day fixtures by a week. But then again, when have the football authorities ever operated on a logical basis?

In the long term, over the course of a long, tough season, the opening weekend results may have little impact. But, when you are shelling out anything between £35-£90 for a match day ticket, then the very least you should expect is to see the best players on the pitch entertaining you – not sat in the stand, posing for the paparazzi and signing autographs.

Nevertheless, we are where we are as they say, and so it is prediction time. I am expecting Chelsea to win the title, just pipping City this time around. Fabregas looked awesome at Turf Moor on Monday night, and Mourinho has now got his own squad in place that I can’t see being beaten.

I’ll take Arsenal to finish third, and any one from Liverpool, Everton, Spurs and United to finish in the final Champions League spot. Through gritted teeth I would have to accept that those loveable Reds from Anfield are the favourites at the moment.

Burnley will survive, Real Madrid will retain the Champions League and Luis Suarez will receive a lifetime ban for biting Cristiano Ronaldo on the arse! Enjoy the season.