The one thing you know about the Football League’s fixture list is that the schedule you receive in June won’t be the schedule you ultimately complete.
Rearrangements are an established part of the English game and, where Leeds United are concerned, a regular occurrence. Twelve of our matches have been moved so far and we’re not even into October yet.
There’ll be more to come in the months ahead.
Sometimes I can understand why rescheduling is necessary – for example, to allow television companies to broadcast particularly attractive games or to prevent any problems at clashes which have a clear track record for trouble and violence.
But more often than not it seems to me that Leeds get the rough end of the stick, as our fixture list for this season shows.
We’ve got the crazy situation of us playing Brighton in Sussex tonight, three days after a tough Carling Cup game against Manchester United.
To be fair to Brighton, they’ll be back on the pitch 48 hours after tangling with Liverpool. Who exactly benefits from this scenario I’ve no idea.
It feels to me like a major Championship game between two sides with an eye on promotion is being squeezed unnecessarily into a tight gap.
As ever, I feel most sorry for our supporters. They’ve had to put up with this sort of thing for many years but we’ve got one of the most reliable and loyal away crowds in the country and it’s wrong that they should be asked to travel to somewhere like Brighton on a Friday evening.
Tonight’s game was moved initially by the police, some time before Sky decided to televise it, but you wonder if it would have moved anyway had Sky made the request first.
That’s how football seems to work these days, with consideration for away fans right at the bottom of the list.
By no means is it a good situation for Simon Grayson or Gus Poyet.
I accept that Brighton weren’t forced to play Liverpool on Wednesday night, and taking a televised game was their prerogative and their call, but neither set of players are going to be 100 per cent fresh for what is an important match.
In these situations, managers can feel pressurised into using players who are either lacking fitness or looking jaded.
I’ve seen it before. It’s the time when little, niggling injuries worsen and people take risks. This ought to be a great game this evening and I hope it isn’t ruined by the fact that both clubs are in the thick of a crazy programme.
I obviously realise that certain matches have to be moved, and it’s no bad thing for those of our fans who fail to get their hands on away tickets to be able to watch televised matches.
We always sell out our away allocation.
I appreciate, too, that the police are required to make difficult decisions on the grounds of safety.
But I’d still ask whether it’s acceptable for a quarter of our league matches to have been shifted around before the season’s gathered pace.
Is that fair or proportionate compared to other teams in the Championship?
There’s no easy solution but a bit more appreciation of the lengths supporters go to wouldn’t go amiss.