Offside’s Premier League A-Z: E is for early and evening kick-offs

E is for early and evening kick-offs…

They enrage and inconvenience away fans and can make travelling to games a nightmare, but there’s no doubting that early and evening kick-offs have become a regular feature of the Premier League.

OFS_ManUtd_Fulham_260312_07 Stac
Simon Stacpoole: Manchester United vs. Fulham.

Picture-wise they can throw up some interesting shots: the lingering mist of warm breath caught in the cold morning air or the atmospheric shadows of a game played under floodlight.

Simon Stacpoole: Mich Richards steps into the evening's action.
Simon Stacpoole: Mich Richards steps into the evening’s action.

Yet the often sudden switches in kick-off times can play havoc with the game’s loyal bands of travelling away fans, who’s journeys become epic slogs across the country in the wee hours of the morning, or a mid-week trip that requires an expensive stay over.

Given the expense already associated with football, the need to take off work to see Southampton play Sunderland on Monday night is an insulting act of exploitation too far.

Mark Leech: Arsenal fans clog up the motorway on the way to Swindon.
Mark Leech: Arsenal fans clog up the motorway on the way to Swindon.

Fan relations aren’t helped when it turns out the inspiration behind these acts of fixture rescheduling comes from TV companies rather than necessity.  Even when games are forced to be played at exceptionally early times by local authorities due to the perceived threat of a derby match, with its volatile mix of booze, rivalry and a whole town or city packed with fans, the shifts can feel heavy handed.

However, it’s hard to deny that for those who are not adversely affected by such kick-off times, that the convenience of watching a Premier League game at lunch on a Saturday, or after work on a Monday is a pleasant development of the modern game. Not to mention the pub landlords who can try to cash in on some TV football prior to the game happening at a local stadium down the road.

Either way, early kick-offs and evening matches look here to stay, with their irritations, TV-filling expediency and the unusual light that can make for some very dramatic shots, as you can see from the images in this blog.

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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