So it started with a tweet
and with the added thoughts and support of fellow Blade Luke Prest the idea has germinated to this......
As you have no doubt seen, Sky TV have chosen our trip to Southend to be televised. This has resulted in a change of date and kick off from 3:00 pm on the Easter Bank Holiday Monday - a traditional footballing date - to 7:45 pm on the following Wednesday.
Time and time again, Sky do this to clubs across the land. The feelings, finances and desires of supporters are never once considered when these decisions are made by TV companies.
Sheffield to Southend is no short trip. With it being the Bank Holiday, large numbers of United will have booked hotels, travel, match tickets etc. well in advance in anticipation of a long weekend or just a good day out by the Essex seaside. These plans and not so insignificant financial commitments are now ruined or increased further by the decision of Sky to change the day and time of the fixture at just 8 weeks notice. Some may say 8 weeks is plenty of notice, but it is not just that, moving the match from a Bank Holiday - which makes it much easier for fans to attend - to a midweek night suddenly affects more people. What was a planned weekend away is no more. The need to book trains in advance to get the best prices, to line up accommodation around a Bank Holiday weekend means that action has already taken place and finances committed.
So what can we, as fans, do about this? The idea we are mooting is that the cost of Sky's action is calculated as a whole on behalf of all Blades and issued by way of an open letter/invoice to Sky. Seeking recompense for individual fans is probably stretching it, but instead we propose the total cost incurred by fans is settled by way of a donation to a nominated Sheffield charity. We can set up a vote so Blades fans can choose the recipients, assuming Sky see fit to pay.
So we ask that if you had made arrangements for the Southend match prior to Sky's rearranging of the fixture, you detail them by replying to this post, completing the Contact Form in the sidebar to the right of this post or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org where they will be collated. We will then issue a total 'invoice' from us, the supporters of Sheffield United.
Please include your name, address, and details of any costs you have incurred as a result of the change in fixture - these could be lost wages, cancelled hotels, re-booking of train tickets etc. If you haven't already booked, don't feel left out. Can you demonstrate that the cost of travel have changed to your financial detriment? The key factor is that whatever we include has to be credible and real.
Please try and email/reply by Sunday 24th January and assuming we have a good response we will issue the bill early next week.
Just think what a small but ultimately powerful message this could provide. The Star have expressed interest in the idea, there were plenty of calls to Football Heaven tonight so we will make sure Radio Sheffield are aware of the plan and we will be letting the Football Supporters Federation know as well. For a small amount of your time in sending us the details you can demonstrate your anger and frustration at the contempt and ignorance shown to you, whilst hopefully helping a local charity benefit.
We are not the only fans to suffer from late notice fixture changes, with the cost implications and inconvenience that they cause. Hopefully other clubs' fans might see this and follow suit, or find their own ways to challenge the status quo. Football without fans is nothing. Football matches without away fans are sterile, muted, dispassionate events. It shouldn't have to be that way.
Thanks and Up The Blades.