I enjoyed watching the FA Cup Final on TV yesterday. It’s good to see the underdogs win, as long as they don’t beat my team. And a goal at the death is a great way to win a game. Wigan would have been pleased not to play extra time as they will be playing again on Tuesday, in a game in which they need to get a result to keep alive their hope of Premier League survival. It felt wrong to have the Cup Final before the end of the Premier League season. I think the date was changed to allow time for the pitch to be ready for the UEFA Champions League Final.
It felt even more wrong to have the game kick off at 5.15 pm instead of 3 pm. The later time was designed to increase the number of TV viewers; apparently they were more important than the fans at Wembley who might have wanted to get back to Manchester or Wigan afterwards.
Every team in the top two leagues has had to change a scheduled kickoff time in order to accommodate the TV schedule. Birmingham City had 6 games changed from the traditional 3 pm Saturday kickoff for this reason. The last of these was on May 4th, when every team in the Championship had to start at 12.45 pm so that a couple of games could be shown on TV. There were some grumbles over this inconvenient start time but I didn’t hear of any big protests; I think we’ve just got used to it.
It makes me wonder what else we might get used to. If someone could make a lot of money by selling TV rights for a live game to be shown during prime time in the USA, would games in England be played in the middle of the night to accommodate that TV audience? It sounds preposterous I know, but when I was a child it would have sounded preposterous to move the time of the FA Cup Final.
I copied the title of this post from a brilliant design for an ad for Pompey Junior Season Tickets that I saw on Twitter. It made me wonder how we can avoid a future where kids think of football just as a TV show. Anybody got any good ideas on how to persuade people to cancel their Sky subscriptions and use the money to take kids to games instead? I must admit I can’t really see that happening. Football may have already passed the tipping point and be sliding down the slippery slope to oblivion. I hope not.