After watching their team lose 1-0 to FC BATE Borisov in Belarus last week, Arsenal fans are now faced with the prospect of a 5:55pm kick-off for the return leg at the Emirates (London).
Such an early start means that many fans will find it difficult, if not impossible, to attend the game due to work and other commitments. This is, of course, a problem in and of itself, but it is compounded by the fact that season ticket holders have already been charged for the fixture.
Yesterday, Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) published an open letter addressed to UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin expressing their displeasure at the decision.
According to AST, the allocated time slot is “inconvenient(…)for the vast majority of(…)fans who have to travel to the game after work from across London, the South East, and further afield.” Not only is this unfair; it is also likely to leave “empty seats” and create “a poor atmosphere in the stadium.”
Football Supporters Europe shares these concerns. Indeed, we raised them back when UEFA announced the new timings for UEL fixtures and were reassured that English teams would not be assigned earlier time slots. We would urge UEFA and broadcasters to honour their commitment in the future.