29 September ~ Fans of clubs in the Premier League and Championship are fairly used to clubs and footballing authorities changing kick off-times at the behest of a television network. The Hull City supporters looking forward to visiting Brighton & Hove Albion's new stadium on October 15, however, have had their plans greatly inconvenienced or, at worst, entirely scuppered by a source completely unrelated to football. The game was scheduled as a standard three o'clock kick-off for a long enough period for Hull City to allow Tigers fans to start applying for tickets via the club's online procedure. A week or so later, Brighton announced very suddenly – and with minimal fanfare – that they were changing the kick off to 5.30pm the same day.

This was not, as is the tiresome norm, for TV coverage, but because the local university is holding its open day that afternoon and so its car park – which doubles up as a matchday car park – was needed for visitors. This reason is, when looked at neutrally, comical, frivolous and distinctly small-time. One assumes that universities do not organise major events such as open days a meagre month in advance and therefore Brighton must have known for some time, as a club, that they were likely to need to switch the kick-off time once the fixture list had made it clear they had a home game that weekend.

That they've chosen to do it so comparatively late in the day shows a staggering disregard for travelling supporters. Many have applied for tickets, and only through the blessing of a deadline prior to allocation has actual money for match tickets not yet changed hands. But, far worse, many Tigers fans have already shelled out for train travel. And Hull to Falmer, and back, is not cheap.

Train companies do not offer refunds on advance ticket purchases of this nature and there would be no point in asking for train tickets to be scheduled for a different time as, thanks to the game now due to end at somewhere pushing the 7.30pm mark, it is impossible for Tigers fans to get back to Hull by train afterwards. Therefore, attendance now has to be either via road, making the day longer, dearer and far more tiring, or with the inclusion of an overnight stay, something that fans with families to go home to will not be able to do.

"This switch has the least impact on all concerned," said Ken Brown, the managing director of Brighton & Hove Albion, who presumably had neglected to remember that people from Hull might actually wish to see a match involving Hull City. Brighton, replying to complaints from Tigers supporters, do not accept that they should be held liable for refunds of train tickets booked by fans when the game was still promoted as a 3pm kick-off. This stand-off involving extremely put-out supporters of one club versus officials of another does not seem set to end for some time. And at least when telly cocks up your plans you have the consolation of still being able to watch the game. Matthew Rudd

Comments (6)
Comment by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 2011-09-29 14:15:48

what happened to the days when things like this were worked out before the fixture list was published - or at least announced/enforced by the police and/or local authorities, again well ahead of time? It's a good job the likes of David Evans are no longer around. Forget banning away supporters, just reschedule all the games for midnight so they don't clash with the Bring & Bake Sale down the road....

Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-09-29 16:10:39

Let's not bring up the whole planning debate again. It has truly been done to death. The Amex has been built now, in Falmer Village. There's no going back. What's done is done. We all knew the local infrastructure couldn't support a football stadium for 20,000 people, but it's time to move on.

Credit where it's due, Brighton's matchday logistics system is ingenious and innovative. BUT - it is ultimately reliant on the co-operation of a number of third parties such as Sussex University. There is virtually no slack in the system, and no contingency for when a component in the system fails or is unavailable. It can't be helped - that's just the way it is. Are changes to published kick-off times likely to be a frequent occurrence at the Amex? Possibly, yes. Is there anything that can be done about it? No. Should the Brighton chairman put his hand in those very deep pockets of his and recompense any visiting fans who lose out? Undoubtedly. And I am sure he'll be happy to do so in this case. He is, after all, a very wealthy man.

Over to you, Mister Bloom...

Comment by Houdi Elbow 2011-09-30 08:29:23

All the more reason to plan ahead then. Brighton have received hugely positive publicity in the last few weeks - they need to prove they are worthy of it.

Comment by Rickster 2011-09-30 11:51:05

This is not positive publicity it makes a mockery of the whole proceedings. Somebody must be in charge who can take control to avoid this total shambles of organisation! If it is going to happen again then they ought to move the stadium, it might be the easier option as nobody gives a damn really! In fact buy a car park first then stick the stadium on the edge, job done! What's the weather going to be like on Saturday, will it fine for the local University Bun Fight by their female tug of war team. We'll bring some buns down from Hull when we are next passing! I see Eastbourne is very nice this time of year and the ice creams are much nicer! Could you recommend a decent place to eat a long way from the Stadium, then we can walk to the Stadium from there after coming down a little earlier than expected for the match. We could go and see a film as well before the match at the local cinema, make a weekend of it. Then we will hitch home after a pleasant weekend! Oh I do like to be beside the seaside! Thanks for the hospitality in advance, can't wait to come and see the sea, the amusements, etc. Won't it be rather nice.

Comment by drew_whitworth 2011-10-01 12:59:11

It's not just Hull fans who have been put out. I am a BHAFC fan living in Yorkshire and this was going to be my first game at the Amex. Fortunately I had not already bought tickets (match or train) before the switch was announced.

But it is crap for another reason, which is that the following Sunday - assuming some Hull fans might have decided to get down there early anyway and stay in Brighton - the train line back to London is closed and a journey that would normally take 4 hours will take 7.

Work and family commitments, on top of distance, make it very difficult for me to see BHAFC games actually in Brighton. So it'll be another three weeks (Barnsley, 6th Nov) before I can go. And that's also been moved from the Saturday because of local infrastructural issues - e.g. the annual Lewes bonfire night parade.

I accept there are some teething problems with scheduling in the new stadium but I hope this is the only season in which it happens.

Comment by Liffrok 2011-10-03 21:40:53

It's a shame that Hull are the victims - on my one visit to the KC Stadium I remember their staff and officials being much more helpful, friendly and efficient than any other clubs'.

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