SWINDON Town Supporters Club chairman Roger Bunce described the arranging of Town’s eighth away Boxing Day fixture in a row as “ridiculous”.
The Football League released the fixture list for the upcoming season yesterday and for the eighth season in a row Town fans will be getting up early to travel to a traditional Boxing Day game away from home. This year it’s a four-hour round-trip to the Walsall’s Bescot Stadium .
The last time The County Ground hosted a match on December 26 was back in 2006 against Wycombe Wanderers. Since then Town, and their fans, have travelled to Yeovil Town, Leyton Orient twice, Charlton, Exeter City, Torquay United and Brentford. Though none of thse journeys are overly arduous they are certainly a longer travel for most fans than a game at SN1.
The Football League generally try to arrange the Boxing Day fixture with a natural pairing, when clubs are linked together, usually due to proximity and to avoid fixture clashes, assisting with club and local authority requests.
Some club’s ask to play away from home on Boxing Day for logistical reasons but the Advertiser understands that the club have not requested this.
Though he understands the fixture list is generated largely at random, Bunce was aggreived he and other fans would have to travel away again on Boxing Day.
“Certainly eight years in a row is ridiculous, I can’t believe that,” said Bunce. “I guess they work to some sort of grid, it’s not on, it’s still not the point. It’s not just for fans but it’s a good money day, a pay day for the club.
“I think it’s one people do notice and say ‘Where are we on Boxing Day?’ Walsall’s not the other end of the world, but it’s still away.
“I certainly saw it and thought for god’s sake we’re due a home game on a Boxing Day and a lot of people feel the same.
“Not having a home game in eight years is odd, a good home game on a Boxing Day is great.”
The Football League explained that Town are one of three teams in League One who do not have a natural pairing. With the others being Crewe Alexandra and Gillingham. All of these three teams are away on Boxing Day so it was difficult to force a Swindon change to be at home in any of the available slots in the pairing grid.
On Swindon’s long run of Boxing Day away fixtures the Football League said the fixture list is mostly down to chance but did acknowledge the frequency Town have been drawn away on Boxing Day and said they will look into the fixture going forward.
This season there will also not be a fixture on New Year’s Day. A long-standing fixture compliers rule states when New Year’s Day falls on a Thursday or a Friday and the FA Cup Third Round falls on the following Saturday, games will not be scheduled for New Year’s Day.
When the Football League became aware that the Premier League had plans to schedule a game on New Year’s Day it asked clubs to vote on whether they wanted to do the same and there was no clear majority in favour of the change.