Oldham Athletic – Free entry? Sadly not

Tuesday 24th January – Oldham Athletic vs Peterborough United, a game that would usually only appeal to the die-hard fans of each League One club, however this fixture was different.

The home club had decided to reach out and offer free admission to this re-arranged fixture.

It was close enough to warrant a visit – so off we went in the hope of providing positive feedback to the football community that would drive similar initiatives across the country.

The club quite rightly gained positive publicity for their gesture, appearing on Sky Sports and BBC stations as well as various social media boosts. The coverage clearly proved powerful judging by the vast numbers who arrived expecting to see a football match on a cold midweek January evening. Sadly at around 19:40 an announcement was made stating that no further entry was to be allowed.

The footfall arrived early as requested, they were encouraged to purchase programmes and make donations to the chosen charity of the night.

The official attendance was 7,224 (a whopping 6,276 short of capacity) so why were people turned away?

We at Time Added On applauded the idea of enticing new fans to Oldham Athletic but like so many others were left disappointed. Money spent on travel, parking and merchandise was ultimately for nothing on a night that promised so much due to a fantastic notion that put fans first.

We congratulate the team on the much needed 3 points and the initial idea of the free entry, however this was terribly executed.

The Latics have potentially missed out on new fans and perhaps more importantly, put people off returning to a club on the outskirts of a City including two major footballing superpowers.

Oldham Athletic have declined to comment so far.

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Jan 17 Transfer Window – Who needs what?…SPFL edition

The transfer window is fully OPEN!

Scotland is one of the most oddly run football associations in Europe and this is shown in the split between the top division and the rest. Whilst Hibs & Dundee United were contesting a top of the table clash in the extremely competitive Championship, the Ladbrokes Premiership sides have just returned from sunning themselves on a winter break.

This means that any significant transfer activity is in full swing now those planes have landed back at Glasgow or Edinburgh airport over the past few days.

Before the phones start ringing and agents start taking their barely-earned commission cuts we thought we’d run through the leagues and advise who needs what.

The Ladbrokes Premiership is all but over, Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic are currently 19 points clear of the chasing pack but that won’t stop the former Liverpool gaffer spending. The Glasgow giants will bring in a couple of new faces and don’t be surprised to see a relatively big name arrive on loan.

Rumours of Everton’s James McCarthy could prove true however we see a squad being built for a further assault on next seasons Champions League.

The best of the rest include Rangers, Aberdeen and Ian Cathro’s Hearts. The latter has promised a squad overhaul and with his contacts in Spain and the North East, you wouldn’t bet against some known names arriving. Aaron Hughes has already arrived at Tynecastle to add experience and stability to their backline.

The biggest internal transfer could see Niall McGinn move from Aberdeen to Hearts on a pre-contract agreement. A strange one in our opinion, as surely the Northern Irishman will have offers from English Championship clubs as well as abroad.

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Rangers need miracles to close the gap on their nearest and dearest across the City. In a previous article we stated that Mark Warburton is not the man for Ibrox and our thoughts haven’t changed. He will not pinpoint nor attract the correct players for the job, in Scotland 2nd is nowhere…3rd or 4th is unforgivable!

Down at the bottom is where we’ll see the season defining signings with just 6 points separating 6 teams.

Lee Clark has raided his old stomping ground at Newcastle for some loans. ICT will need to either stick or twist with Ritchie Foran in the hope he can find a striker to fire them to safety and Hamilton need to hang onto Ali Crawford to have any chance of remaining in the top tier.

Dundee have enough talent to keep their heads above water, as do Motherwell. However with Sam Allardyce lining up a £500K bid for 12 goal Moult, the Fir Park men will need to reinvest some capital in a key area.

Dropping down a division brings us to the hotly contested Championship. Hibs have already played their cards bringing in Kris Commons and former PNE winger Chris Humphrey, truth be told – they are both too good for this level and give Lennon’s men a significant advantage. Dundee United will need to respond to the business done in Edinburgh and respond quickly they have by recruiting Danish hitman Thomas Mikkelsen, further bodies are required to keep up with the Scottish Cup holders however.

The chasing quartet include an improving Morton and an in-form Dunfermline who will look to build on solid seasons and cement a place in the end of season play offs. A goal scorer to cover for the injured Quitongo in Greenock and a midfield engine, to add to the impressive Callum Morris capture at East End Park are on the respective wish lists.

Over at Peter Houston’s Falkirk they will be keen to hold onto Craig Sibbald whilst bringing in a loan from the top division to add squad depth.

At the foot of the table Jack Ross’ St Mirren are 7 adrift and no amount of incomings are likely to bridge the current gap.

Into Scottish League One and it’s defenders that are required all over! Every club has conceded more goals than games they have played. Livingston will look to capitalise on their current 9 point lead by holding onto top scorer Liam Buchanan, a potential sale of youngster Matthew Knox to Man Utd could provide some much needed investment if they’re to step up a level next season.

Similar to the Premiership, the chasing pack are all closely bunched. Alloa were our pre-season tips for promotion, so we’ll stick with them to challenge. Spence and Kirkpatrick are scoring the goals but they need to keep them out at the back to maintain a push. Mark Wilson could well be calling in some favours from former club Celtic to bring some young talent to aid an Airdrieonians promotion tilt.

Stenhousemuir sit 2nd bottom and are deep in relegation trouble (just as we predicted back in August) they will need to recruit to have any chance of survival.

alloa-airdrie-image

Last but not least we move to the lower reaches of the Scottish football pyramid, League Two.

Pre-season favourites Forfar are leading the way as expected and Gary Bollan will be satisfied with his squad, we cannot foresee any additions at Station Park.

Elgin will need to ensure that they hold onto Shane Sutherland to ensure a play-off spot come May and the rest of the league is open to change every single week. Currently the bottom 4 teams are separated by just a single win, money is null so it’s going to be make do with what you have and hope you do enough to survive from Stirling to Berwick.

Niall McGinn image is sourced from; Aberdeenjournals
Alloa and Airdrie image is sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk

FA Cup 3rd Round – A missed opportunity

The 1st full weekend in January should be an occasion to mark on the football calendar, the FA cup 3rd round weekend. A weekend filled with promise, hope and expectation. Who would be this season’s giant killers or the fairy tale story?

We have just seen the last of this weekend’s ties and we can’t help but feel let down by what we have witnessed over the 32 games.

We’ll start with the TV coverage. The BBC have rammed the message of “The Magic Of The FA Cup” down our throats showing the usual clips from bygone days then they serve us up the all Premier League clash of West Ham vs Man City followed by Spurs vs Villa (an all premier league tie for the last 25 years until the start of this season.)

BT Sport added a little more imagination with their ties but all included either Man Utd, Arsenal or Liverpool. The Anfield game being the only legitimate case for a televised spectacle.

Where were the live broadcasts from Barrow, Sutton Utd or Wycombe Wanderers? All containing not only lower league sides but also non-league ones. All, who we are sure, would be more welcoming of the cash than the much changed high flyers.

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Neil Warnock, an uber-experienced British born and bred manager whose previous clubs have depended on the FA Cup for much needed income said of his Cardiff tie with Fulham “I struggled to get out of bed and I must admit I wasn’t really excited at the prospect of playing the side I got to play in the FA Cup.”  Do his sentiments echo that of most within the game?

Next to catch our eye was a significant number of empty seats up and down the country, a shocking 307,639 chairs went unused during the 3rd round.

Pass marks go to Sutton Utd & Barrow who perhaps unsurprisingly sold out. Liverpool, WBA, PNE, Chelsea and Man Utd also came close to capacity so escape our gaze. All full breakdown can be found below, we have highlighted all games that had over 15,000 or more empty spaces:-

Game Attendance Capacity Difference
West Ham v Man City 56,975 60,000 3,025
Man Utd v Reading 74,396 75,653 1,257
Accrington v Luton 1,717 5,057 3,340
Barrow v Rochdale 4,414 4,414 0
Birmingham v Newcastle 13,171 30,106 16,935
Blackpool v Barnsley 4,875 17,338 12,463
Bolton v C Palace 11,683 28,723 17,040
Brentford v Eastleigh 7,537 12,763 5,226
Brighton v MK Dons 11,091 30,750 19,659
Bristol City v Fleetwood 10,301 27,000 16,699
Everton v Leicester 35,493 39,571 4,078
Huddersfield v P Vale 11,715 24,500 12,785
Hull v Swansea 6,608 25,586 18,978
Ipswich v Lincoln 16,027 30,311 14,284
Millwall v Bournemouth 9,471 20,146 10,675
Norwich v Southampton 12,479 27,224 14,745
QPR V Blackburn 7,482 18,489 11,007
Rotherham v Oxford 5,618 12,021 6,403
Stoke v Wolves 21,479 27,740 6,261
Sunderland v Burnley 17,632 48,707 31,075
Sutton v AFC Wimbledon 5,013 5,013 0
Watford v Burton Albion 13,270 21,500 8,230
WBA V Derby 25,288 26,850 1,562
Wigan v Notts Forest 5,163 25,023 19,860
Wycombe v Stourbridge 6,312 10,300 3,988
PNE v Arsenal 22,185 23,408 1,223
Cardiff v Fulham 5,199 33,280 28,081
Liverpool v Plymouth 52,692 54,074 1,382
Chelsea v Peterborough 41,003 41,798 795
Middlesbrough v Sheff Wed 23,661 34,988 11,327
Spurs v Villa 31,182 36,284 5,102
Cambridge v Leeds 7,973 8,127 154

cardiff-city-v-fulham-fa-cup

The 3rd round should always be viewed as an opportunity, not just by the clubs involved but by the FA as a whole. We continuously hear about grass roots football and how we need to attract new coaches, home grown players etc. How about making sure all stadiums are full to the brim for this special weekend? Work with the clubs to utilise the millions of pounds available, make the day cheaper and tempt those who don’t go to the game. Entice literally 100’s of 1000’s of new supporters to our beautiful game!

Sadly the competition is in need of a boost, it is not taken seriously by most until the latter stages and managers seem grateful to go out giving them fortnight breaks later in the season. Are the likes of Bournemouth, Stoke and Liverpool fans telling us that they don’t want the memories that a day out at Wembley brings or is it all simply about finishing 17th or above?

The FA need to take drastic action to revamp a competition that is on life support. They recently signed a vastly improved sponsorship deal for £820m spread over 6 seasons, the prize fund from qualifying rounds to eventual winners is just £25m…we think it’s time we saw a breakdown of the remaining yearly total of £111m.

Terrible attitudes have outshone the world’s oldest association football competition and it’s just not right.

Wycombe vs Stourbridge image is sourced from; www.latetacklemagazine.com
Empty seats at FA Cup image is sourced from; www.walesonline.co.uk