Premier League fan group criticizes league schedule

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The Premier League’s schedule release Wednesday was cheered by most soccer fans, especially those abroad, but some Premier League fans based in England believe the league has gone too far to accommodate the high-paying broadcasters.

That’s according to the Football Supporters Federation, a group of fans that include representatives from Tottenham and Chelsea’s Supporters Trust and Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly. The group has identified three main issues to British-based fans traveling to away games with the new schedule; 10 league games between November 25 and January 1, mid-week fixtures, and late announcements for televised games.

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Despite some discussion in the media about having a winter break for the Premier League, this year’s schedule has gone nearly in the other direction, adding three more league matches from November 25-January 1 from what it was three years ago.

The fans group raises the point that for fans of outer clubs such as Southampton, Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley among others, having to pay for five road league matches as well as all the transportation involved.

Regarding midweek matches, the group raises concerns about a lack of away fan support at the games, especially with public transportation not available late in the evening from some cities.

Lastly, among the major criticisms, the group decried late announcements regarding whether games will be televised in Britain, leading to a different start time, or starting at the usual 3 p.m. Currently broadcast announcements for the first two months of the season won’t be announced until July 10, with the next two months announced on August 11, a day before the start of the season.

While the aims of the supporters group are noble, it’s hard to see many of the group’s goals taken on board by the Premier League. NBC is currently in the middle of a six-year broadcasting rights contract, reportedly worth nearly $1 billion to televise the Premier League to the U.S. A Chinese company is reportedly paying $700 million over three years while British-based BT Sport and Sky are paying approximately a combined $6.5 billion for the rights.