Lockdown Football Room 101: I have no time for Portsmouth & Co's early kick-offs

Just like my other car is a Porsche, my other Pompey column is the one in the matchday programme (a digital-only thing at present but free, and worth every penny).

By Steve Bone
Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 11:00 am

And in that outlet the other week, I collected readers’ submissions for my Lockdown Football Room 101 – the things we’ve seen in behind-closed-doors matches that should never be witnessed again.

Entries included goalcorers going ‘Ssshhhh’ to empty stands, the phrase ‘Let’s bring in Peter Walton on this’ on TV, and clubs who cover seats with banners that are exactly the same colour as the seats.

I now have another item to chuck in, one that I hope will be history as soon as us lot are allowed back into our stadiums.

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Early kick-offs. And I don’t mean the occasional game starting at 12.30pm on a Saturday for TV purposes.

Rather, what has become the routine bringing forward of start times for matches just because clubs think that as fans are not present, kicking off at silly o’clock doesn’t affect anyone.

I don’t get it. What do they gain from playing at 1pm on a Saturday instead of 3pm?

Have any of them actually consulted with their fan base or ifollow audience, to see who it suits?

The Pompey players in their pre-match huddle before Saturday's 1pm kick-off against Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park

It barely gives you enough time to finish lunch, and interferes like hell with my attempts to listen to Paul Gambaccini’s Pick of the Pops on Radio 2.

But 1pm Saturday is not the worst of these new kick-off times, oh no. What on earth are 6pm midweek matches all about? That is an utterly ridiculous time for football.

I can’t imagine there will be more people following a game on TV, radio or just online at 6pm on a Tuesday compared to 7.30pm or 7.45pm.

Let’s hope fans’ return will see this abomination of an idea ended, never to be spoken of again.