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Dave Woodhall's Villa Blog

SATURDAY? THREE O' CLOCK? YOU MUST BE JOKING

05-10-2007

After Monday night's gut-wrenching episode when Villa threw away a 4-1 advantage to keep Spurs boss Marti Jol in a job, it's onto another London side, West Ham. But here's the curious thing for a Premier League fixture....the match kicks off at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

Two football supporters, watching their team play a match, will see things entirely differently. It's the law.

Villa's 4-4 draw at Spurs last Monday was either a disgraceful performance or a scintillating display depending on who you ask. It was certainly memorable, and indicative of the state of play at Villa Park. Martin O'Neill's job's half done, and until it's finished there will be times that'll have us ripping our hair out with frustration while others will make us convinced world domination is inevitable.

On Saturday Sheffield United should be visiting Villa Park, but the Premier League didn't want them up so we've got West Ham instead.

I hadn't used to mind the Appy Ammers - going there back in the days of the ICF might have been dangerous, but there was always the feeling that West Ham, unlike other London clubs, were first and foremost about football. Nowadays it might be a lot safer, but West Ham are every bit as much a commercial concern as any other Premier League outfit.

They'll be a good test for the Villa. We should win, but games against West Ham tend to be pretty even. If we can put in the kind of performance that saw Everton comprehensively outplayed a fortnight ago, I'll be very happy.

And of course, it's the only game in the Premier League kicking off at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon.

Yes, it's a disgrace. Yes, it's proof that the TV companies control football. But we let it happen. If there'd been some sort of unified campaign by supporters against Sky's growing influence when wholescale re-scheduling began with the advent of pay-per-view, we might have been able to retain some semblance of normality.

But unfortunately, the days when groups such as the Football Supporters Association (now Federation) could capture the imagination of fans nationwide are gone. We're all too busy watching the early, late and Sunday matches on the telly.

Do fans have the power to change kick-off times? Leave a comment on the Sports section of the Message Board.

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