Thousands of Bradford City and Tranmere Rovers fans have seen matchday plans disrupted after their upcoming game was moved on West Yorkshire Police's advice to avoid clashing with an English Defence League march.
The game was originally rearranged with only three weeks’ notice from Saturday 12th October (3pm) to Friday 11th October (7.45pm).
This was then changed again to Sunday 13th October (3pm) after fans complained that the rescheduled fixture clashed with England’s World Cup qualifier against Montenegro.
Bradford City say that fans would be using transport links at the same time as EDL demonstrators, therefore they accepted the police’s request to make the change.
Such limited notice means that many fans – particularly travelling supporters – will have wasted money on unnecessary travel and accommodation.
Tranmere Rovers supporter Lewis Glasson contacted the Football Supporters’ Federation to explain how he and four friends had already booked train tickets and a hotel in Leeds to attend the original fixture.
The four friends are travelling to Yorkshire from different parts of Britain and will now suffer “considerable financial loss as a result due to pre-booking transport and accommodation”.
Lewis says: “The fixture being rescheduled at only three weeks’ notice is not satisfactory. We are all deeply angered at the late rescheduling of this fixture and the apparent lack of concern for travelling supporters shown by all parties involved.
“One Tranmere fan in particular has suffered enormous expense due to the poor organisation from both Bradford City and WYP. The fan in question has been forced to rearrange pre-booked flights from Ireland twice in order to attend the twice rescheduled fixture.”
Football League fixtures were announced in June while this particular EDL march wasn’t publicly announced until Sunday 8th September.
Many supporters have sympathised with the headache this has caused both clubs and the police. However, there is frustration that it is football fans who have been inconvenienced.
The Bradford City v Tranmere Rovers fixture has been known for far longer than the EDL demo and will be attended by many more people. The Bantams’ average attendance for the season to date is almost 15,000.
According the Government’s own website the police do have powers to change the location or time of any march. However, they are not allowed to “ban” a march unless the Home Secretary agrees.
But could the announcement have been made sooner? Did the police consider placing conditions on the EDL march which would have allowed the original fixture to go ahead?
The FSF put those questions to WYP who replied: “When formal notification was received of the EDL’s intention to protest in Bradford, consideration was immediately given to the impact on the city and other events.
“At this stage the format and exact location of the event has not yet been confirmed. However, as there is expected to be a number of people in Bradford during the protest and to avoid any additional pressures on the city, WYP have asked Bradford City to rearrange their fixture that day.
“The football club, working with the co-operation of Tranmere Rovers and the Football League have agreed to move the fixture to Sunday 13th October.”
Have your say
Any fans who want to make their voice heard should contact the WYP Police and Crime Commissioner here. Copy your club’s Supporter Liaison Officer into any correspondence and the FSF (via firstname.lastname@example.org).