Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Friday night lights- The rock and hard place of success

They say that success comes at a price, and this season it could well be that the Bath Fans may well be paying that price.

Bath this season are going from Strength to strength and are making encouraging signs for the future. Currently sitting in 3rd in the Aviva Premiership, Quarter finalists of the Amlin cup, also making the Semi finals of the LV=cup and winning the Aviva 'A' league, their progression is becoming all the more apparent.
This season has seen some good rugby being played by the boys in Blue, Black and White, from the power in the back to the open running of the backs. This leads to an attractive team to watch and more television airtime coming their way, but at what cost does that come to the faithful fans, some of which travel huge distances to watch their beloved team?

When you glance your eyes across the fixture list for Bath this season it makes interesting reading! Including preseason matches but Excluding possible further Amlin matches and potential Play off games, at he end of this season Bath will have played 37 fixtures-

Home Thursday- 1
Home Friday- 5
Home Saturday- 11
Home Sunday- 3

Total- 20

Away Friday- 6
Away Saturday- 7
Away Sunday- 3
+1 to be confirmed against Quins

Total- 17

If you look at those fixtures only just over 50% of the home fixtures have been played on a Saturday! 
There are many season ticket holders who travel from outside of Bath and are faced not only with travel issues but also the possibility of finding accommodation for a Friday or Thursday night game. Some children attend Saturday games and enjoy seeing their heroes playing live, yet evening games mean that some of the younger ones cannot attend, a loss for the future Blue, Black and White faithful. 
The infamous Friday night traffic of Bath is a pure delight normally, with a home game thrown into the mix it just becomes that little more entertaining staring at the bumper of the car ahead of you.

The most alarming of the fixture list are the away games, with only 7 of the away games being played on a Saturday, this also leads to huge travel issues for the fans? A Friday night in Newcastle or Manchester aren't the easiest destinations to get to, leading to people not going or having to take time off of work. The Home advantage (as shown in the 6 Nations) becomes a huge benefit, but taking as many travelling fans to an away game can help ease the pressure for the travelling team. 

The latest change of fixture has been the Northampton Saints game which has been moved from a Saturday to a game under the "Friday Night Lights". This has caused a huge element of upset for many of the fans, yes yet again a Friday game but which Friday it is.......Friday 2nd of May, the Friday of a bank holiday weekend. Schools break up, people trying to get away for the first long weekend of the "summer", all this will add to the extra hassle of travel and also extra cost involved with accommodation, especially with Bath being a tourist destination. All in all not the best option for a rearranged fixture because of television.

There is a flip side to this as well, always positives and negatives. With more games being televised there also are many positives. 
More airtime for Bath Rugby brings more revenue to the club, which hopefully the club may be able to pass on down the line to the supporters (hopefully).
It also means that supporters who can't afford a season ticket or even go to all the home games they will able to watch Bath live. There are many fans who can't get to all the games so the ability to watch them play or the more often is a huge bonus to them. 
More people watching Bath will encourage the #BathFamily to grow and encourage more to take the plunge and visit the Rec to watch Bath play. 
Also it can help draw more people to go to their favourite watering hole and enjoy the game on a screen with friends over the occasional alcoholic beverage. 
With more travelling fans coming into Bath it will also aid the local economy, another reason to keep rugby at the Rec!

BT Sport have taken a novel approach to this seasons schedule; by not speculating at the start of the season by picking the games to be shown, they have opted to choose games of interest as the season progresses. A great option for fans of the game, as they get to see more competitive matches, unfortunately an inconvenience of many supporters who have to leave arrangements to the last minute or even totally change plans.

So as you can see for every downside there is an upside, but is it rewarding the ever present! But how can there be a win-win solution with this, sadly there isn't one. We all dream of our clubs becoming a successful, competitive and winning team, sadly with that at times there is a price to pay. We want Bath to becoming the force it once was and are enjoying the direction they are moving, it's a positive vibe that is filling the Rec at the moment with the enjoyment of watching good Rugby emerging from Bath.
Although perhaps the club itself could look into solutions to ease the pain of the suffering season ticket holders, who do invest a lot of time and money into the club. Enjoy the club moving forward but don't lose sight of the ones who have been there through the arduous journey so far! 

So however you look at this situation Bath Rugby really are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and have to choose what they feel is best for the club.......what Would you do? 



  1. surely its in everyone's best interest's apart from BT sport's to play the game on a Saturday? For local business, the fans and I would imagine the club. The Northampton game is our last home game of the season.. providing we get a semi final I i would put my life on it being away, im sure the club would of had something planned to say thank you to the fans for our loyal support through the season. These plans maybe be ruined buy it now being a friday night game. with less time and no practicality to put something on for the fans.


  2. Good post. Also, the Friday evening before the Northampton game the Legends evening was supposed to have taken place, this has now been cancelled until September. Good point about the local businesses being affected. This is absolutely true as we quite often bring our wives who shop while we watch the rugby. Not good all round!

    1. I'm glad you mentioned the legends evening, I regretfully forgot to put it in.
      I was trying to go with an even balance between pros and cons, although it was very tricky, especially when you look at the number of fixture not on a Saturday.

  3. I am between a rock and a hard place myself .......... as a local (on Bog Island) business owner a Saturday home game does bring increased footfall with the opportunity for improved sales. The downside on a personal basis is that I generally have to work so couldn't get along to the game but I could go on a Friday evening. All things considered I think that a Saturday option is always best for the vast majority of fans. It's true that so many faithful fans travel a long way for the home games and the complications and additional burdens that a "non-Saturday" game brings is pretty tough on them.
    Steve Bennett (aka @bathbugle)
    Roman Candles of Bath

  4. Keith Muddle face of the saints!!17 March 2014 at 16:13

    As a Northampton supporter it has buggered our weekend as was travelling down on Saturday morning and had booked an apartment for the Saturday night!! five very unhappy saints supporters as due to work can not travel friday