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Champions League Debate

19 September 2012

Club Secretary Paul Godfrey discusses the issues surrounding clashes with midweek televised Champions League football coverage.

Cheltenham Town goalkeeper Scott Brown has today re-lit the debate over midweek televised football by questioning why Football League fixtures are scheduled for the same date as European Champions League games.

Speaking in the Gloucestershire Echo, Scott said: "we know our loyal fans will turn out for all our games and we are grateful for their support, but I don't know why they have to put our games on the same night as Champions League nights."

The answer lies in the already crowded fixture list with European club football taking up 15 of the available 34 midweek slots during the season. As games are played on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays it is very difficult to schedule fixtures to avoid them. With regard to the other midweek dates during the season, nearly all are taken with some form of televised football including international games, Capital One Cup, FA Cup replays or Premier League midweek matches.

Cheltenham Town club secretary Paul Godfrey explained: "since the expansion of the Champions League the fixture list has become ever more crowded with more and more football on TV. The Football League find it very difficult to schedule matches on weeks when there is no televised football.

"For example, a couple of years ago we had to re-arrange a postponed game against Stockport County. We had a bit of a battle to get the game played on a night with no European football but we eventually settled on March 1 and felt pleased with ourselves that there appeared to be few other games on. That was until Chelsea re-arranged their Premier League game with Manchester United for the same night and it was shown live on TV!

"In the past we have lobbied for League Two games to be played on League Cup nights but there are two issues with this. Firstly, there is a possibility that League Two clubs could get through to the later stages and secondly, the Capital One Cup is financially very lucrative for the League (and its clubs, including Cheltenham Town) so it is important for them to keep the dates free to maintain the TV audiences. There are also a couple of free dates in the second half of the season but these tend to be reserved for re-arrangements in the case of bad winter weather.

"We have also looked into playing matches on different nights during the week but managers in Leagues One and Two tend to be very keen to stick with Tuesdays as it fits the pattern of training during the week and allows them the most time to prepare for games."

However, Paul is refusing to admit defeat in the battle against televised football. "Ultimately there is no substitute for watching proper live football," he said.

"Personally I find television football very frustrating to watch. You don't get much sense of the atmosphere, you cannot see the whole pitch and you don't get a proper sense of the speed and athleticism of the players. It's no substitute for the real thing and I know that many people become hooked on proper live football once they go to watch their local club. It’s a unique experience and one which we would like all our regular supporters to emphasise to people.”

Below is a list of all the midweek dates this season showing the Cheltenham Town fixtures and other competitions being played at the same time.

w/c 24 Sep - Capital One Cup 3r
w/c 1 Oct - Bristol Rovers A, Champions Lg, Europa Lg groups
w/c 8 Oct - OXFORD UNITED H (JPT 2r)
w/c 15 Oct - International week (WC qualifiers). Poland v England
w/c 22 Oct - PLYMOUTH ARGYLE H, Champions Lg, Europa Lg groups
w/c 29 Oct - Capital One Cup 4r
w/c 5 Nov - Gillingham A, Champions Lg, Europa Lg groups
w/c 12 Nov - FA Cup 1r replay, International fixture date (friendly). Sweden v England                                            
w/c 19 Nov - Chesterfield A, Champions Lg, Europa Lg groups
w/c 26 Nov - Premier League midweek games
w/c 3 Dec - JPT aqf. Champions Lg, Europa Lg groups
w/c 10 Dec - FA Cup 2r re / Capital One Cup 5r
w/c 17 Dec
w/c 7 Jan - Capital One Cup sf 1l. Johnstone's Paint Trophy asf
w/c 14 Jan - FA Cup 3r re
w/c 21 Jan - Capital One Cup sf 2l
w/c 28 Jan
w/c 4 Feb - FA Cup 4r re. JPT af 1l, International date (friendly). England v Brazil
w/c 11 Feb - Champions Lg last 16, Europa Lg last 32
w/c 18 Feb - JPT af 2l. Champions Lg last 16, Europa Lg last 32
w/c 25 Feb - Fleetwood Town A, FA Cup 5r re
w/c 4 Mar - CHESTERFIELD H, Champions Lg last 16, Europa Lg last 16
w/c 11 Mar - Racing festival. Champions Lg, Europa Lg last 16
w/c 18 Mar - FA Cup 6r re
w/c 25 Mar - International date (WC Qualifier). Montenegro v England
w/c 1 Apr - NORTHAMPTON TOWN H, Champions Lg, Europa Lg qf 1l
w/c 8 Apr - Champions League, Europa League qf 2l
w/c 15 Apr
w/c 22 Apr - Champions League, Europa League sf 1l

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