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Suzanne Geldard column: Waiting game not fair on Burnley supporters
“ONE game at a time” – if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that phrase this season, but increasingly in recent weeks... well, I couldn’t afford to retire but it might cover the council tax for a couple of months.
Punishment in the form of a forfeit and fine is dished out to any Claret who dares mention the unmentionable. The P word. So it’s just easier, not to mention cheaper, to repeat manager Sean Dyche’s mantra ad infinitum.
And why not? To coin another phrase, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Clarets have thrived on the simple messages from their manager which have made them one of the most complicated teams for the opposition to master (barring Middlesbrough, somewhat miraculously on last weekend’s evidence).
They could be promoted tomorrow.
Although you won’t find Dyche declaring as much in public, on or off the record, even though it is mathematically possible.
But it will be impossible to tell by the final whistle.
Because one game at a time is the name of the game on Good Friday, quite literally.
For even if Burnley do beat beleaguered Blackpool, they will have to wait for the outcome of the evening kick-off to discover their fate.
And by that time Bloomfield Road will be deserted, the players will have long since left.
They might not even be together when the final whistle blows at the Keepmoat Stadium, although if Doncaster are doing them a favour they might just have a sit-in on the coach until it’s over.
It’s all well and good for the producers, keeping everyone on tenterhooks, adding to the excitement to boost the viewing figures.
Sky Sports must be rubbing their hands that the games they earmarked for live coverage a few weeks ago have so much still riding on them.
But it’s no good for the fans, the paying punters, who follow their team home and away, through thick and thin and don’t just jump on the bandwagon late on.
Not only are supporters having extra twists and turns thrown into what is already an emotional rollercoaster, but it is possible they will be deprived of the chance to celebrate in style, together, praising the players for putting them back in the Premier League.
Look at Leicester City, who celebrated promotion in an unconventional way because their game was televised the Friday night before the rest of the Championship fixtures.
Having beaten Sheffield Wednesday 2-1, defeat for then third placed QPR at Bournemouth on the Saturday confirmed a top flight return for the Foxes.
The promotion party began.
But it was not how you would imagine, with fans streaming down from the stands to hug their heroes.
Barring defender Liam Moore’s Instagram video of him and a few team-mates celebrating with dancing, chanting and champagne in what appeared to be an apartment, supporters could not really share the joy.
Granted the television network pumps lots of money into football that individual clubs benefit from, but that doesn’t give them the right to hold football fans to ransom.
It’s no good having a blanket kick-off on the final day of the season.
While some outcomes do go down the wire, plenty are decided before then, and the Football League must do something about it to make the fixture run-in fair.
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