Arsenal will take on BATE in the Europa League Round of 32 at Emirates on Thursday and it is scheduled to be an early kick-off.
The match will start at 5:55 pm local time and this awkward timing has caused a fair bit of stir amongst the Arsenal supporters.
As per a report, the Arsenal vs BATE timing has been brought forward from the original timing of 8 pm so that it does not clash with Chelsea’s clash vs Malmo.
And the reason why the Stamford Bridge outfit have been able to maintain their timing is due to the fact that they have won the Europa League before.
When the timings were officially announced in December Arsenal had immediately issued a statement regarding the problems that the fans would face due to the early kick-off for the Arsenal vs BATE game.
The statement read: “We appreciate this kick-off time may present difficulties for supporters and matchday staff and we would have preferred for the match to kick-off at 8 pm, as has been the case for all our home matches in this season’s group stage.
“We thank everyone in advance for their support in relation to this kick-off time which is not in our control.”
And now the Arsenal’s Supporters Trust has written to the UEFA president regarding the problems they would face due to the early kick-off of the Arsenal vs BATE game while asking for reassurances that such an incident will not occur again.
Here’s the letter in full(as reported):
Route de Genève 46
CH-1260 Nyon 2
19 February 2019
Dear Aleksander Ceferin
We are writing with regard to Arsenal’s match against Bate this coming Thursday in the Europa League which will kick off at 17.55pm on Thursday.
This is a totally unacceptable and inconvenient kick off time for a vast number of Arsenal fans who have to travel to the game after work from across London, the South East and further afield.
The result will be a huge number of empty seats and many fans having to pay for a ticket on their season tickets which they cannot use.
This is both unfair on Arsenal supporters and will lead to a poor atmosphere in the stadium.
We are sure that TV coverage will be the explanation for this kick off time but such decision-making fails to recognise that watching football on TV is enhanced as a spectacle when there is a full ground and good atmosphere.
Increasingly we are seeing TV companies dictate the kick off time and the actual match going fan becoming more and more a secondary consideration but this forthcoming UEFA league match takes things to an unprecedented new level.
Please can you respond to us and explain why UEFA believes that 17.55 is an appropriate kick-off time? What suggestions do you have for supporters who have paid for season tickets but cannot make this kick-off time?
Can you also give a reassurance that having been faced with this situation that UEFA will ensure that such scheduling does not occur again.
We look forward to hearing from you and are available to discuss with you or a relevant colleague.
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust