Date: 8th December 2011 at 9:49pm
Written by:

Leeds United travel to Watford on Saturday for something that has become a bit of a rarity this year, a 3pm kick off.

I am an old traditionalist and believe football should be, Saturday 3pm, but due to the over indulgent TV companies and the Police sticking in their two pence worth in, Leeds away games and 3pm have been a rare commodity in 2011.

In 2011, including the two games over the Christmas period that were originally set for 3pm at Derby County and Barnsley, that have now been moved, Leeds will have played 25 games away from home during the year.

Of those 25, only 5 have kicked off on a Saturday at 3pm.
6 have been midweek games, 4 on Police Advice and 8 have been moved for live TV coverage with Leeds fans being shown little consideration.

Last season, Leeds had a number of games moved for TV coverage and on Police advice that meant very long trips, early starts and late finishes.

The first game of 2011 was at Cardiff City, a 456 mile round trip. It was moved on Police advice from its Bank Holiday kick off time of 3pm to the following evening. It also included fans having to collect their tickets from a service station on the way to the game.

The following Saturday, the trip to Arsenal in the FA Cup was moved to Saturday lunchtime with a 12.45pm kick off. An early start for the Leeds fans making the trip from Leeds, with a 385 mile round trip.

Leeds then enjoyed the rarity of two Saturday away games in a row, actually taking place at the original 3pm kick off time at Portsmouth and Bristol City in January and February.

The trip to Millwall in April was the only away game in the remainder of the season to kick off on a Saturday at 3pm.

After Bristol City, was the longest trip of the season to Swansea City. Sky TV chose the game for live coverage with a 12.45pm kick off. A nice time to be kicking off for the travelling Leeds fans that had to make the 530 mile round trip to South-West Wales.

The Yorkshire derby at Sheffield United was moved to 1pm on Police advice and the final game of the season at Queens Park Rangers was shown live on the BBC with a 12.45pm kick off. Another early start for those from Leeds making the 390 mile round trip.

Last season 10 of 23 away games kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday.

When the fixture list is published in June, Leeds should hand theirs to the TV companies and the Police before releasing it to fans.

Before a ball had been kicked, Leeds had seen 13 of their first 23 games, up to the New Year moved.

The opening game of the season at Southampton was moved to 5.20pm for live coverage on BBC. Once again, a late night return for those making the 470 mile round trip from Leeds.

The second away game of the season at West Ham United was moved for live coverage on Sky.
1.15pm on the Sunday was the chosen slot by Sky. Another nice early start for the Leeds fans making the 422-mile round trip.

Ipswich Town gave Leeds fans a rare opportunity of seeing an away game at 3pm on a Saturday in Leeds next away game.

Next up was the trip to Brighton. Once again, Sky wanted to show the game. This time it was on a Friday night. Leeds fans could look forward to a lovely trip down the M1 and M25 on a Friday afternoon. They could then look forward to arriving home in the early hours of the morning, having completed a 516 mile round trip from Leeds.

The trip to Doncaster had already been moved on Police advice to a Friday night when Sky decided to show the game.

Peterborough United were next up. It was moved on Police advice to a 12pm kick off apparently because they did not want Leeds fans drinking in Peterborough for lengthy periods before kick-off.

What they forgot to look into was the fact that the first train back to Leeds was just before 6pm, with the game finishing at 1.45pm (actually, 1.50pm – must add fergie time) so very well thought out by the Police of Peterborough.

Birmingham was always a midweek game but had to be put back by almost a month due to the blues involvement in Europe.

The trip to Leicester City was moved to a Sunday because Police could not handle a rugby union game at Leicester Tigers and a football game on the same day.

Quite ironic when you think back to the trips to Leicester`s old ground Filbert Street, literally a few hundred yards from their new stadium.

Leeds games regularly used to be played the same day as the rugby side, but often with an early kick off with the Leeds fans coaches actually parked alongside the rugby ground.

Burnley was moved to a lunchtime kick off to please the BBC, who this time wanted to show the game live.

Last time out, Nottingham Forest was a planned midweek fixture.

Leeds now make only their second Saturday 3pm kick off away game of the season at Watford this Saturday and only their fifth in 2011.

The festive period sees both Leeds away games at Derby County and Barnsley moved to 1pm.

2012 is sure to be another season of disruption and the first away game of the year, the FA Cup clash, once again at Arsenal has been chosen by ESPN for live coverage and will now be played on a Monday night.

The last away game of the season at Cardiff City has already been moved to a 12.30pm kick off and I am sure once again we will have to pick our tickets up from the Police at a service station.

Despite all the disruption for Leeds fans making the trips, the away allocations have continued to sell out.

Going back to last season and the games that were moved. Tuesday night at Cardiff 1,820 tickets, Arsenal 9,037, Sheffield United 3,600 and Queens Park Rangers 1,792 all sold out. The trip to Swansea City was the only one that did not sell out but 2,944 fans did make the trip.

This season, Southampton 3,097 Leeds fans, West Ham 2,957, Brighton 2,200, Doncaster 4,209, Peterborough 4,151, Birmingham 3,102, Leicester 3,265 and Burnley 3,750 all made the trips despite silly kick off days and times.

The problem is, the TV companies enjoy large viewing figures when Leeds are involved. Only Manchester United and Liverpool are reported to be bigger draws in terms of audience figures for the TV companies when shown live.

The Police forces that decide to move games still think they are dealing with Leeds United of the 1970`s and 80`s when admittedly we had a few problems on our travels.

Leeds currently have six away games in 2012 that could kick off at 3pm. I wonder how many we will actually end up with?

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