Sky Sports Sabotage Aston Villa Supporters 140th Anniversary Plans

For their first round of televised games Sky Sports switched five Aston Villa fixtures from their original dates (see below). Nothing unusual  there, but the rearranging of the home game against Southampton that was due to be played on Saturday, November 22nd,  pretty much highlights how Sky’s current procedure neglects to think about supporter concerns.

The Perfect Plan

It’s been established by various Villa historians that on Saturday 21st November 1874*, Aston Villa football club was effectively founded when members of the Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel cricket team, meeting under a lamppost at the top of Heathfield Road, decided to form a football team.

This season marks the 140th anniversary of that historic event and the football fixtures gods did  Villa supporters a favour by granting them a home fixture on the 22nd November 2014 versus Southampton.

It was perfect for a matchday celebration. Bearing in mind that meeting in 1874 took place at night, the Saints date would be less than 24 hours from the actual anniversary date. And significantly, it was on a Saturday, the same day of the week Aston Villa were formed and the traditional day for football fixtures.

MOMS had contacted ex-Villa CEO Paul Faulkner about the date before the fixtures came out as a heads-up to essentially keeping it in consideration for a form of match day celebration.

He was very supportive of the idea of an anniversary on that Saturday 22nd of November, if it threw up a home Villa fixture, which it obviously did.

The Ignorance of Greed

Obviously, it seems Sky Sports hadn’t been lobbied about not changing that date. The club should have perhaps shown a bit more initiative on that front, but regardless, the major issue is there doesn’t seem to be a procedure where on occasions like this, supporters can have some input on TV date changes.

After all, supporters know their clubs better than the club’s custodians in certain matters. They already have to grin and bare the practical inconveniences TV date changes cause with their relatively short-notice, but surely there has to be a mechanism in place to protect events like the honouring of football tradition.

The annoying thing is Aston Villa vs Southampton is a game that has needlessly been changed. It’s not a high-profile game or a big audience spinner for Sky. Surely this is a situation that could have been avoided?


* ASTON VILLA – The Complete Record by Rob Bishop and Frank Holt

Above picture shows the Aston Villa supporters group Brigada 1874’s banner



  1. I’ll start with dunno what was said on twitter, so hopefully I don’t repeat anything already covered.
    Its better the supporters can’t change the fixtures. Would lead to all sorts of “hard done by teams” also how to apportion the “weight” of each clubs supporters, just in case Southampton would prefer the Monday night in this case. Better to take the good suggestions of doing something on the real date, and partying on the Monday. Is there anything planned during the other games to mark 140yrs? Maybe make a banner for BT Sport and wave it during the Soton game, changing to BT Sport at home if your upset with Sky. On the flip side I don’t think they should be able to change the schedules either, should be set by the guy who makes the spreadsheet at the beginning of the season with consultation by the police, and making allowances for a Monday night game permanently. My local is going to get more business because of this particular change. If cup games clash later on in the season, the FA is there to make the needed changes. Faulkner’s in deep with them and as touched upon didn’t do much in this instance, as aside anyone know who paid for his Brazil trip?

    • It’s not about changing dates for supporters, the point was more that if there was a significant date – a significant anniversary, for example – there should be a mechanism for supporters to alert Sky to safeguard it. Ideally, it’s something each club’s Supporter Liaison Officer should undertake – at the moment, Villa’s SLO doesn’t officially use the SLO title. The role needs to be embraced by all clubs.

      PS – I bet Saints fans aren’t too happy about it now being a Monday night game! But the switch from Sat to Mon, wasn’t the key issue here, it was moving it away from the date that fell on the 140th anniversary and it is better to celebrate, raise money for charity and have activities on a Saturday afternoon.

      • My point was IMO no one should be changing the schedule except the FA in case of cup game clashes. Although you raise a valid concern over a 140yr anniversary, its possible to foresee a situation where a “significant date” could be found for almost any game and used to favour one team over another. Think every team could find something to gripe about in the schedule, and it would be just as important to them as our 140yr anniversary. Can almost hear Jose Mourinho claiming his Chelsea need to celebrate the anniversary of his first haircut so they can move a game that falls too close after a European game. I use haircut to amplify the absurdity of my example, I am sure his lawyers will find something more appropriate.

        The SLO and AVFC could perhaps approach the FA and TV companies before the schedule is released and invite them to be stakeholders in a celebration if a game falls on or around a particular date.

  2. This is also not a matter of ‘Sky = bad’ or ‘they pay so they can do what they want’, as some people think it is on Twitter. It’s a matter about decency, the club communicating and there being an avenue for supporters to have some input on fixture changes, if there is a such a matter.

  3. yes this is annoying, and means nothing can be planned for the 140th before the game. Which some folk were thinking of doing to raise money for charity. And Faulkner going has also put a dampner on things. But the 21st is still free so why not go for a fund raising event on the actual date of the lamplight meeting?

    Trevor Fisher

  4. As I said on Twitter. This has really annoyed me as it should be a great atmosphere with a lot of fans turning out to support the 140 year anniversary but alas I now won’t be able to attend this due to work commotments. I can also see a lot of fans now shunning this game for the exact reason you stated that it isn’t a high profile game to attract the fans to attend a game on what will probs be a dark cold dreary Monday night game.

    On the flip side tho we could flip this to our advantage. As we know the best atmospheres at VP are under the floodlights so if we could get a full house then we could show sky that nothing they try to do can dampen the party atmosphere that villa fans are famous for.

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