Portsmouth supporter groups criticise 'nightmare' Sunderland fixture change

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Pompey supporter groups have criticised Sky’s rescheduling of next month's trip to the Stadium of Light.

The Blues’ third visit in three-and-a-half months to Sunderland has been selected for broadcast on Saturday, August 17.

Pompey supporters last visited the Stadium of Light for an evening kick-off in May, when the sides met in a play-off semi-final first leg. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey supporters last visited the Stadium of Light for an evening kick-off in May, when the sides met in a play-off semi-final first leg. Picture: Joe Pepler

Yet while the initial date has been retained, the kick-off has been brought forward to 12.30pm.

For those Pompey fans contemplating heading to the north-east for the encounter, it represents a massive impact on travel plans.

And Sky’s decision to allocate the fixture in a 12.30pm time slot has not been welcomed by the supporters it affects.

Pompey Supporters’ Trust chairman, Simon Colebrook, said: ‘I am not a fan of switching these games around, especially when a long-distance journey is involved.

‘I can understand why this fixture was picked for TV, but it doesn’t help the fans.

‘Considering the distance involved in the journey, it is a big inconvenience to the potential number of supporters who want to go and cheer their team on.

‘I’m hoping not too many fans have pre-booked their travel arrangements – and if they have, hopefully they can be moved.

‘This kick-off time would not be my preference, but a late time would be even more horrendous, as we saw for the play-off game there.’

Chairman of Pompey Disabled Supporters’ Association, Basher Benfield, is planning to make the trip to the Stadium of Light.

His arrangements are unaffected, having previously scheduled travelling up on the Friday for a weekend stay in the north-east.

However, he recognises the issues for other Pompey followers.

He added: ‘I imagine there’s going to be a lot of people very angry over this.

‘Think of those who have already booked flights on the Saturday to Newcastle airport, they might have to look at it again.

‘It’s going to be a nightmare for some, the new kick-off time may mean they miss the game.

‘It’s wrong and will have an big impact on our supporters being able to attend, which is probably what Sunderland and their police want.

‘But we are governed by Sky, unfortunately we have to go along with it, there’s little we can do.

‘We have to take the rough with the smooth, even though it’s not good for supporters.’