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Fixture scheduling dialogue continues with Sky Sports

In November, Tim Rolls representing the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, along with representatives of Spirit of Shankly, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’Trust and the Football Supporters’ Federation met with senior Executives from Sky Sports to discuss the impact of the rescheduling of Premier League matches for broadcast on match going fans, particularly away supporters. A further meeting was held on 22 February, with comment to follow.

 

Ongoing dialogue surrounding the scheduling of Premier League fixtures for TV took place at the latest meeting between supporter groups and representatives from Sky Sports.

The meetings were set up to give consideration to supporter groups and the impact on fans, particularly travelling fans, of fixture schedule changes when making TV selections, while at the same time outlining the requirements and considerations that have to be taken into account from a broadcast perspective.

Sky Sports is always mindful of the impact of their selections, taking this into consideration where possible on TV picks to minimise the impact on fans. The company also recognises that its customers and match-going fans are one and the same.

Fan reps now a have a greater understanding of the complexities of fixture scheduling, particularly the various contractual obligations broadcasters must meet.

Kat Law from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, said: “We were encouraged by Sky’s enthusiasm to continue to build a working relationship with supporter representatives and the desire, from the top of the organisation, to consider travelling supporters when scheduling matches for live coverage.”

Gary Hughes, Sky Sports Head of Football, said: “We welcome this conversation with supporters about travelling to away matches and understanding the issues they face. It has also been helpful to outline the process we go through to select live fixtures, and the contractual obligations that ensure every club and every ground is featured regularly across the various slots we can schedule matches in. We have listened to the feedback, will continue to do so and widen this dialogue in future.”

While broadcasters have an influence on the match schedule throughout the season, the ultimate responsibility for fixture scheduling rests with the Premier League, and supporter groups are renewing the call for representatives from the Premier League to engage in these discussions as positively as Sky have done.

The supporter reps will now seek meetings with the Premier League, BT Sport, the train operators and individual clubs as they look for a joined-up approach to ensuring fixture rescheduling for broadcast purposes has minimal impact on travelling fans in the future.

Fixture scheduling meeting with Sky

On Wednesday 2 November a number of top-flight fan representatives met with members of the team at Sky Sports who work across football coverage and fixture scheduling. It is hoped that this is the first of many meetings between match-going fans and broadcasters. The full statement can be found on the Football Supporters’ Federation site here. 
 
Our co-opted representative Tim Rolls attended the meeting and provided the following update:
 

Members surveys by Premier League supporters organisations including Chelsea Supporters Trust have clearly shown that rearranged kick-off times at the demand of Sky or BT Sport are a significant frustration for match-going supporters, particularly but not exclusively travelling ones.  The impact on cost, work arrangements and family life of these rearrangements should not be under-estimated.

The recent meeting I attended with Sky, following on from a meeting of supporters representatives with the Premier League in July where the matter was discussed, was a necessary step in heightening stakeholder awareness of the impact of rearranged fixtures on match-going supporters.  It is, however, by no means the end of the process.  Further stakeholder dialogue needs to take place, involving PL, Sky, BT Sport and supporters representatives sitting round the same table.  Only by doing this is there a chance that supporters needs are effectively taken into account when PL fixtures are rescheduled.

We would like to thank Tim for his ongoing work in this area, along with other Premier League Trust representatives. This is an important and frustrating issue for many of our members. Thanks also to the FSF for facilitating the meeting as we look forward to some positive progress.