The Premier League — greatest in the world. Right? Isn’t that what they say? I would buy into that a little bit more if they could get one of their basic responsibilities right: Let us know when the games are happening.
You might think they do that, since there is clearly a “fixtures list” all over the internet. But that’s not really when the games are happening. Or, it might be. They’ll let you know — sometime.
We Americans are blown away by this. The schedule comes out, and that’s the schedule. You make your plans accordingly, because that is when the game is happening.
Not so in England. There, the schedule says every game is on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. — until the TV networks change it. Some games wind up at different times on Saturday, some on Sunday, some on Friday or Monday evening.
And when do they make these changes? Well, until a few years ago, they wouldn’t even answer that question! Supporters’ groups raised enough hell that the league announced the schedule for when they would make changes for broadcast. They now proudly display said schedule on their website.
And they routinely ignore it — while never updating us on the process.
This September 16, they were supposed to announce changes for November games. They did it on September 19. This October 11, they were supposed to announce for the December and January games — a much bigger deal, as the games come fast and thick then, many people plan to travel for games, and thousands of foreigners come over on their Christmas vacations.
October 11 came and went … nothing. The weekend went by … nothing. Monday the 15th … nothing. Again, not only are they not making the announcement by the agreed-upon deadline, they aren’t even acknowledging it! A simple statement like “We’re sorry we missed the deadline, here’s the new date” would be as appreciated as it would be surprising.
Tuesday the 16th came and went … nothing. Wednesday the 17th … nothing.
In fact, as I write this at the end of the day Wednesday — six days after the deadline — the relevant page on PremierLeague.com still says the announcement will come on October 11. And all they have officially told the media is it will come out “this week.”
Never mind your travel plans, your hope to save money with an early booking, your work leave, your accommodations, your childcare needs … In fact, while we’re at it, never mind the policing or transit needs of the communities where these games occur. None of that matters to the Premier League. They worship the god of money, which flows like wine from the TV networks, so TV has all the power.
In the States we understand that professional sports are a wholly owned subsidiary of television. But we make them treat us with at least some respect. They mangle the schedule, but once they set it, it’s set.
This is something the UK could learn from us. Because, right now, the clear, loud and persistent message from the Premier League is that supporters can fuck off while TV makes their plans.
And we’re still waiting …