Happy New Year's Day Manchester City fans!

Posted by David Mooney

Manchester City fans celebrate their 1-0 victory amid jubilant scenesGettyImagesManchester City fans may have a groggy trip to Swansea to contend with on New Year's Day.

Happy New Year, Manchester City fans! That's the message that's being shouted loud and clear from the offices of the Premier League and Sky Sports towards the Blues' supporters -- especially those who travel to away games -- as those at the top kindly changed the kickoff of City's match on Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 from 3.00pm to 12.45pm. The journey facing roughly 3000 Mancunians that day is a cute 230 miles to Swansea. Probably with a hangover.

Now, I'm not normally one to moan about the kickoffs being changed to accommodate television schedules -- mainly because I rarely go to away games and the more of them that are on the telly, the better for me -- but a four hour trip to Wales the morning after the whole country is celebrating having to use a new calendar (quite often involving copious amounts of alcohol) is a little inconsiderate.

Ok, it's not always the whole country using a new calendar because my 2012 one still adorns my wall (I just never got around to getting a new one and there's no point in October, is there?), but you know what I mean.

However, that's the game we play and where there are winners, there are losers. The winners are the Premier League clubs, who reap the financial benefits that being in the television deal holds. That can't be sniffed at, especially as there's a focus on balancing the books through Financial Fair Play Regulations. Throw in a larger worldwide audience and sponsors are suddenly more interested, too.

On the other hand, though, the losers are the fans, who end up having to set an alarm for silly o'clock in the morning, or having to take the afternoon off work to get to Newcastle on a Monday night. It's the deal with the devil and the price that has to be paid.

There will inevitably be consequences like this coming New Year's Day -- a four hour, hangover-filled coach trip across the Welsh border -- and while fans grumble and groan, most will still make the journey. Some will decide not to, but an overwhelming majority won't be put off. If followers of all clubs want to be able to watch the sport on the box all weekend -- whether they support the team being shown or not -- then nobody can grumble that a moved kickoff doesn't suit them. It's a fact of life.

While supporters hitting the roads at all hours of the day to tackle all kinds of treks to the far reaches of the country is inconvenient, Manchester City fans have however been handed some good news on the ticket front this week. It's been confirmed that the club will subsidise the price of away games for season-card holders based on their proximity to the Etihad -- the further fans have to travel, the more likely the entry fee will be slashed in half.

The club will also target matches played within short time periods -- so a not-so-long journey on a midweek might receive a discount because it comes just a couple of days after an expensive weekend fixture.

In a time when there is widespread criticism that the national sport is losing touch with its core supporters, it's an admirable move by the Blues to ease financial pressures on fans -- and while City can be criticised for a lot of things down the years, ticket prices have always been very reasonable.

It was City's travelling followers who staged a protest at the £62 Arsenal were charging for the match last January, so it's clearly an issue that the club are aware has been making headlines and something they want to make a move to change.

It's also been reported this week that City's players and backroom staff have set aside a figure in the region of £1000 each for the kitty to help with providing a discount.

In a time where families don’t have masses of disposable income, where kickoff times aren't always the most convenient for the match-going supporter, and where thousands upon thousands of people feel like the costs involved with watching football are beginning to outweigh the benefits, it's good to see action being taken.

The prospect of a hangover on a four hour trip to Swansea early in the morning wouldn't seem as daunting if the ticket carried a 50% discount.


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