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Board meeting: Thursday 22nd November, 7:30pm, Boston SRC

Board meeting: Thursday 27th December, 7:30pm, Boston SRC

Boston United FC Supporters Trust is a registered Industrial and Provident Society, company No. IP30051R

Fixtures out and fixtures moved 31/07/06

With the new season just around the corner, Supporters Trusts up and down the country have been reacting to the news that Coca Cola League clubs are playing an increasing number of Friday night games, with the number of games shifted in 2006/2007 already up on last season.

Historically, such changes are primarily prompted by England fixtures infringing on the traditional 3pm kick-off on Saturday afternoons, but an ever growing number are now being moved as clubs try to make the kick off times more appealing to supporters. Despite such intentions, Friday night fixtures are proving troublesome for season ticket holders and traveling away fans alike.

Darlington supporter and Darlo Trust member Ted Smith commented: "I buy a season ticket each season and fully accept that I'll miss some midweek games plus some over Christmas when public transport is not quite as useful as it could be. However to now find that I'm now losing the equivalent of about £60 in match tickets - or paying more to attend by taking half a day off, paying premium rail fares to travel on Fridays and finding overnight accommodation - is simply not on."

Trusts have been investigating the moves and have also been consulting with the Football Supporters Federation (FSF). The move has been prompted at some clubs, Darlington included, following "extensive research" showing Friday night attendance improvements. Quite what research and where is it is currently unclear as the Football League, as yet, has not confirmed its existence.

Alan Bloore, Deputy Chairman of the FSF, questioned the reasons behind the moves and also the process clubs have to go through for moves to take place. "Clubs can only change their fixtures for specific reasons and both clubs have to agree,” he said. “There is no limit to the amount they can request. They do have to get agreement of the opposition, the police, safety groups and Football League. This is not just granted; clubs have to justify it and it usually centres around other activities in the area on the Saturday."

One club has moved a fixture following the request of supporters. Trust owned Stockport County are playing their home game against 05/06 Conference National Champions Accrington Stanley on a Friday evening. "The move is to see if it does bring in additional fans, particularly those who might otherwise be supporting one of the local higher division clubs. We carefully chose a match in which the travelling issues for the away fans will be minimal," said County Director Dan Levy.

It seems date changes are common place for one League Two side: Chester City have rearranged a whopping 14 games for the coming season. They have gained sympathy from surprising quarters, however, as Simon Johnston, a Wrexham Trust member, explains.

"Without wishing to rush to Chester's defence, I have to say that they are at the mercy of the Cheshire Constabulary regarding kick off times," he said. "We were due to play at the Deva Stadium last season in between Christmas and New Year. The game was moved to 12 noon despite the fact that it was on a working weekday. No real reason was given for this, although the Chief Constable's retirement do was the same evening! The early kick off time meant that the pitch was frozen and many people then wasted a day's holiday."

The issue is certainly becoming more contentious, especially in Trust circles. The Supporters Representative on the Fixtures Working Party, Ian Todd, explains the most recent update. "The FSF has had pressure from supporters of some League 1 & 2 clubs to push further on the issue of internationals clashing with scheduled league fixtures.

The matter has been raised on the Fixtures Working Party, twice in fact. There was, however, little support from the League 1 & 2 reps. on the FWP to have a fixture free date. I believe this is due to the fact that it is a situation they have learned to live with plus the realisation that it would mean additional midweek games.

The League themselves are more than happy to agree rescheduling to Friday or Sunday or to change the Saturday kick-off time, provided both clubs agree.

The important thing is for these arrangements to be made as far as possible in advance so that, ideally, they can be included in fixture list published by the club and fans can plan accordingly."

So maybe changes are afoot, almost definitely it will take time, almost certainly supporters and supporters groups like Trusts are going to be the ones driving it.

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