MPs joining protest at early games
ANGRY MPs are to protest to soccer chiefs about Manchester United's
Driven by the demands of TV schedules, the Reds have opted for 12.30pm
starts on Saturdays inside of the traditional 3pm, causing uproar
Now the team have announced that their last home game of the season
against Charlton in May will also be at 12.30pm and that has angered
members of the parliamentary Manchester United Supporters Group.
Its spokesman, Labour MP, Phil Woolas, a government whip, says he's
furious that the club are bowing to the needs of TV rather than the
"This is infuriating for all the members of the Manchester United
Supporters Group in the commons and we intend to take it up with the
Premier League," says the lifelong Reds fan.
Supporters have been staging a series of protests about the early
starts on Saturdays.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Manchester United Supporters Group
is the Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd.
"There are some games where police ask for an early start, and
that's right for potentially explosive games," said Mr Lloyd.
Too many times
"It can be accepted now and again, but not regularly."
United and Fulham fans stood together outside Old Trafford last
weekend to launch a nationwide protest at moves away from the
traditional kick-off time of 3pm on a Saturday.
United say that the early kick-off, which has drawn criticism from
manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his players in the past, could benefit
them this time.
They could be involved in the first leg of a Champions League
semi-final on the following Tuesday, in which case the extra few hours
of rest afforded by a noon start would be a plus.
United get £600,000 for every live game they stage, but say the issue
cuts much deeper than simple commercial interest.
Club spokesman Paddy Harverson said: "We understand the concerns
of fans but we have to take into consideration all of the different
parties involved when making this decision, including Sky who pay
substantial amounts for the rights to show games, the Premier League
whose contract it is, as well as ourselves and our opponents, who also
share in the match revenue.
"Then, of course, there is the police, who generally do not like
games to kick off late in the day when pubs have been open for a long
"There are also millions of United fans around the country who
enjoy watching us live on television, because they can't get to the
"We understand and sympathise with those fans whose schedule is
disrupted, but it's swings and roundabouts."