• TV providers made changes to the fixture list on Monday
• Changes came out just 33 days before the start of the season
• Fans are made to find alternative travel with trains not an option
• Chelsea fans face three trips in first three months where they either cannot get there or back by train on the same day
• Southampton supporters have a struggle to reach games away at Liverpool and Aston Villa
• Arsenal, Aston Villa, West Ham, Newcastle, Leicester and Sunderland fans all suffer the effects too
Football fans are once again bearing the brunt of changes to the Premier League fixture schedule by Sky and BT Sport.
The TV duo released changes to kick-off times for every weekend up until the end of November on Monday, leaving many travelling supporters frustrated.
A large minority of the changes leave it impossible for fans of the away side travelling on the train to either get to the host town or city in time for an early kick-off, or get home after an evening game.
The opening round of fixtures sees Chelsea travel up to Burnley for the Monday night 8pm kick-off – with travelling fans unable to get home the same night.
Southampton fans will also struggle to see Ronald Koeman’s first game managing their side in the Premier League, with the earliest train from the south coast making it into Liverpool Lime Street just minutes before kick-off at Anfield on Sunday August 17.
Monday night matches are the worst culprits in the revised list, with five of the seven announced fixtures leaving train-travelling fans stranded in the host city, including Hull City vs West Ham on September 15 and Crystal Palace vs Sunderland on November 3.
August is the worst month for travelling supporters, with five games leaving away fans needing other arrangements, including London-based supporters of Arsenal and Chelsea playing at Everton in the Saturday 5.30 kick-off on consecutive weekends.
The last train from Merseyside to the capital leaves mid-way through the second half of those fixtures.
Chelsea’s travelling contingent have it worst with three of their matches being late kick-offs at Burnley, Everton and Sunderland, while Southampton and Newcastle fans will be struggling for two games.
Last season the Premier League allocated £250,000 to every club to put towards an away fan initiative to help ease these problems.
Clubs like Stoke and Fulham put on free coach travel for fans, while Chelsea chartered special trains for night games at the two Manchester clubs. A host of other clubs such as Liverpool used the money to subsidise ticket costs.
A spokesperson for the Football Supporters’ Federation said: ‘Match-going fans come too far down the list of priorities when matches are selected for TV. Every season there are examples of games being moved to times which are extremely difficult for travelling fans.
‘To pick an example at random on the season’s opening weekend, how are Southampton fans going to get to Liverpool for a game on Sunday at 1.30pm?
‘TV companies often get the blame but let’s not forget that it’s the clubs themselves who allow this to happen by agreeing to contractual terms which inconvenience their own fans.
‘That’s not to say BT and Sky couldn’t lighten the load on fans. The FSF has received many complaints from fans unhappy at the four weeks it took both companies to announce which games would be moved for broadcast.
‘Every day of silence from them cost fans time and money. Train fares go up, hotel rooms are sold out, and it’s more of a struggle to book days off work. Supporters want to see both BT and Sky move a lot quicker next season.’
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