It's always a tough balancing act when it comes to football on TV. Back in the dark old days of Division One seeing ourselves on Sky was an absolute rarity (not to mention a ridiculous bad luck charm; something like 11 years without a win when we were on, I believe). ITV Sport changed things a bit before it imploded on itself but nowadays we can expect to be broadcast about 10 times or so a season. And that's good, isn't it? If you can't get to a game you can see it anyway and also the rest of the world can watch in awe. So it must be a good thing surely.
I refer to two particular cases; Everton away last season and Blackburn away this season. Who can forget that trip to Goodison which was changed from a 15:00 kick off on a Bank Holiday Monday to 20:00 the day after instead? And of course to compound the matter, it was on the 4th of January - just off the back of Christmas and New Year. As a result under 300 fans travelled. Still, you'd hope that Sky had learnt their lesson and that perhaps such changes are unfair on the supporters... or not. Because as part of this year's hectic New Year schedule, we travel to Blackburn on the 2nd of January. For a 19:35 kick off. So God knows what time you'll be getting home from that one.
Unless I'm mistaken, I'm sure there was a time when the fixtures were compiled so that around that time of year most clubs got to play teams who were near to them, since it's recognised that most people aren't liable to want to travel hundreds of miles at what's such a busy time of year. And especially now that Sky can stick their oar in and truly muck everything up with silly kick off times.
Another interesting point that popped up this week was Peter Kenyon, who gave the rather clever opinion that television exposure could ruin the game and that, "We have got to keep the balance between the number of games on television and ensuring our stadiums are full." Surely such thoughts should've been entertained about five years ago rather than now. As if the point needs illustrating, let's reflect on the live broadcast schedule from last week;
Monday - Bolton vs Spurs
Tuesday - York vs Burton
Wednesday - Sheffield Wednesday vs Cardiff
Friday - Swindon vs Bristol City
Saturday - England vs Argentina
Now I enjoy watching football as much as the next person, and even moreso as a neutral because it saves me getting ridiculously nervous. But surely there has to be a time when we can draw a line, especially when Sky continually drag up such "classics" as Middlesbrough vs Bolton or Fulham vs Villa. Hell, even some of our own matches - like the Blackburn game coming up in January for example - who is actually going to watch that, other than the fans of those involved? You can hardly picture a warm and fuzzy Christmas scene of a family all gathered together in a Yuletide scenario and someone happily suggesting, "Hey everyone! Let's all sit around in the glow of the television and watch the action from Ewood Park".
Something's got to give - and hopefully it's irritating kick offs...