For their first round of televised games Sky Sports switched five Aston Villa fixtures from their original dates (see below). Nothing unusual there, but the rearranging of the home game against Southampton that was due to be played on Saturday, November 22nd, pretty much highlights how Sky’s current procedure neglects to think about supporter concerns.
The Perfect Plan
It’s been established by various Villa historians that on Saturday 21st November 1874*, Aston Villa football club was effectively founded when members of the Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel cricket team, meeting under a lamppost at the top of Heathfield Road, decided to form a football team.
This season marks the 140th anniversary of that historic event and the football fixtures gods did Villa supporters a favour by granting them a home fixture on the 22nd November 2014 versus Southampton.
It was perfect for a matchday celebration. Bearing in mind that meeting in 1874 took place at night, the Saints date would be less than 24 hours from the actual anniversary date. And significantly, it was on a Saturday, the same day of the week Aston Villa were formed and the traditional day for football fixtures.
MOMS had contacted ex-Villa CEO Paul Faulkner about the date before the fixtures came out as a heads-up to essentially keeping it in consideration for a form of match day celebration.
He was very supportive of the idea of an anniversary on that Saturday 22nd of November, if it threw up a home Villa fixture, which it obviously did.
The Ignorance of Greed
Obviously, it seems Sky Sports hadn’t been lobbied about not changing that date. The club should have perhaps shown a bit more initiative on that front, but regardless, the major issue is there doesn’t seem to be a procedure where on occasions like this, supporters can have some input on TV date changes.
After all, supporters know their clubs better than the club’s custodians in certain matters. They already have to grin and bare the practical inconveniences TV date changes cause with their relatively short-notice, but surely there has to be a mechanism in place to protect events like the honouring of football tradition.
The annoying thing is Aston Villa vs Southampton is a game that has needlessly been changed. It’s not a high-profile game or a big audience spinner for Sky. Surely this is a situation that could have been avoided?
* ASTON VILLA – The Complete Record by Rob Bishop and Frank Holt
Above picture shows the Aston Villa supporters group Brigada 1874’s banner