Premier League fans have long been accustomed to league games shuffling around to accommodate European glamour ties. But who would have thought that last night’s Manchester United v Real Madrid tie could have similar knock-on effects for fans in the Blue Square Bet Premier?
Despite the Champions League draw being made in December 2012 Macclesfield Town waited until Thursday 28th February to notify fans that their league game with Lincoln City on Tuesday 5th March would be put back by 24 hours.
According to Lincoln City’s website this was “in order to avoid a clash with Manchester United's televised Champions League game from Old Trafford”. The match will instead kick-off tonight (Wednesday 6th March) at 7.45pm.
If a significant number of Macclesfield Town fans had chosen to watch Manchester United on TV instead of tasting live football at Moss Rose then matchday income would drop. Fewer people through the turnstiles equals falling gate receipts, programme sales and bar takings.
But while supporters sympathise with non-league clubs and the competition they face from live games on TV there is exasperation at the notice given in this case.
A Lincoln City fan explains why: “Along with a group of friends I travel to around 90% of home and away games. As with all football fans, away days take careful planning to ensure everyone's got the night off work and transport is arranged.
“Everything was sorted well in advance until last Thursday, just five days before the game was scheduled. Macclesfield announced that the game would be moved to Wednesday 6th March instead because Manchester United play Real Madrid on TV and Macclesfield didn't want the game to clash.”
“Yes, our game’s been scheduled since December and they decide to make a decision just five days before. The minibus company we use needs seven days cancellation notice, which we weren't able to give, so we've lost our booking fee and deposit. We aren't an isolated case as other Lincoln fans have booked hotels and train travel in advance.”
It’s worth remembering that it’s not just Lincoln City fans that may have lost out. Any Macclesfield Town fans who live outside the area and booked advance rail tickets or had to re-jig other arrangements will have also suffered.
The Silkmen’s response
Macclesfield Town’s Chief Executive Jonathan Harris said: “The original game was postponed from 22nd December 2012 and was rearranged for Tuesday 5th March 2013. However, this was also a reserve date for the quarter final of the Cheshire Senior Cup which bizarrely would have taken precedence over the League game.
“Once we had lost the Cheshire Cup tie we were inundated with suggestions and requests to consider moving the Lincoln game to the Wednesday as it clashed with the Manchester United v Real Madrid Champions League game, which had increased in popularity following the 1-1 draw in Madrid.
“In an earlier round of the Champions League, Manchester City played Juventus, which was also live on TV and clashed with a home fixture, and our home attendance was some 400 supporters down. Therefore it was decided to make the request to move the game. However, with Lincoln having appointed a new manager, they did not agree to the switch until Friday 1st March 2013.
“We believed it is in the best interests of all football supporters connected with both Macclesfield Town and Lincoln City that we moved the game to tonight.”
Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this story.