Cheaper rail tickets for Football fans on the way soon
Sunday, 17th Feb 2019 12:11 by Tim Whelan
For the last few years fans travelling by train have frequently found themselves out of pocket when kick-off times are changed at short notice, but help might finally be on the way.
Many fans like to go to away games by train, to do the environmentally friendly thing and have a few beers on the way without the worry getting pulled over, or having to find a parking space when you get there.
But fans who want to let the train take the strain find themselves caught between the ludicrous pricing policies of today’s train companies (where to get an even remotely reasonable fare you have to commit to a particular train) and the number of games switched for TV, often at short notice.
So fans who buy a train ticket months in advance to get the cheapest fare are then stuck with having to pay for a journey they no longer want. And you won’t need me to tell you that this most likely to affect the fans of clubs who are selected most often by the TV companies keen to boost their viewing figures, such as our very good selves.
But now the rail industry is considering introducing tickets which would be tied to specific football games, rather than dates, so they could be moved to a different train if the match was moved to another time or day. And not before time, as the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) and the Campaign for Better Transport have been calling for this since 2013.
Initially it’s likely to be for the Premier League only (so we can dream of being able to benefit next season!) but if they can make it work it’s likely to be extended to the Football League later on. FSF chair Malcolm Clarke said “The FSF broadly welcomes this initiative, it’s something that was originally proposed by fan groups and it’s therefore vital that we’re involved in its planning.”
“Fans use the rail network week in, week out to get to games. We know what works and what doesn’t, so we have to be part of the detailed discussions. It is also important that any initiative is extended beyond the top-flight – there are almost as many EFL and National League games moved for TV as Premier League.”
In 2017 The FSF secured the Labour party’s support for this idea, and now the government is on board. Shadow sport minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan raised the issue in the House of Commons last month, and got a positive response from Rail minister Andrew Jones. Jones said "Football is all about passionate fans, and the last thing loyal supporters deserve is to pay more when matches are rescheduled at the last minute.”
"That's why I'm delighted that the Government has helped secure a vital agreement that will bring together clubs, operators and British Transport Police. To drive this forward, I will be meeting with the Premier League and rail industry shortly to ensure our focus is on delivering a safe, secure and fair railway that works for fans, passengers, the clubs and the operators."
The Department for Transport and the Premier League are now in the process of working out the details, and the scheme could be introduced as early as next season. One thing we do know about 2019/20 is that 200 Premier League games will be broadcast in the UK, meaning more than half of all games are moved for TV, from which the clubs will receive £4.5bn in domestic media rights.
So it’s about time that they have a little bit of consideration for travelling supporters, the most dedicated fans of the game who provide much of the atmosphere at games. Without us they would never be able to sell the game to TV in the first place.
For more information about the Football Supporters Federation you can visit their website www.fsf.org.uk .
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