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Dreams of Wembley

4 years ago

Newcastle fans haven’t visited Wembley since 9 April 2000, unless they got lost of course in the meantime.

Apparently they have even built a new stadium there since our last visit…

Despite Mike Ashley laughingly putting up a £20m incentive for our Championship side to lift the trophy, the FA Cup was surely never destined to have black and white ribbons on it in 2018.

Drawing Chelsea away looks to have made all but certain of that, especially with a crucial Premier League game at home to Burnley only three days later. Sadly, extra games is not exactly what Rafa Benitez needs in these next three or four months, as he attempts to navigate away from the dangers of relegation. Though of course whichever 11 players who are chosen will give it their best shot and we can still dream…

When the Premier League fixtures were handed out in the Summer, the Tottenham away date had extra significance this time around.

No doubt a fair few were marking it down as one to target with it being the national stadium and a (very very) rare chance for Newcastle supporters, including a fair few parents who have season tickets with kids.

Regardless of which Newcastle fans were targeting the Spurs game, nobody was legislating for it being moved to Friday night.

The current TV deals allow Sky Sports to choose 10 games (from the 380) to be shown on Friday night, so why would anybody think that it is a good idea, or even that four letter word – ‘fair’, to choose the club that is furthest away from Wembley to have to travel there on a Friday night?

With each new move the Premier League and broadcasters are moving closer to eventually killing off their golden goose. The people who actually go to the matches and help create the spectacle are clearly never ever considered.

When the next TV deals come into effect in the 2019/20 season, for the first time it will be a majority of the 380 Premier League matches that will be shown live.

With this week’s announcement, 16 of Newcastle’s first 31 Premier League games will be shown live, including 11 of the first 16 away matches, for a club who have a 250 mile round trip to even their closest away venue.

Saturday night games are going to be added to the Friday night ones in the new TV deals, everything geared to making it more and more convenient for people at home in their living room or in the pub.

As the greed of those who stand to gain grows ever bigger, they appear totally unaware  of the dangers as they make it ever tougher for both away and home supporters to get to games.

There will be a reckoning one day and they won’t even see it coming, by then as well, it will be too late as many fans turn their backs on a sport that didn’t know when to stop pushing those boundaries.


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