OVER 200 FC United of Manchester supporters took part in a protest before and during their FA Cup tie against Chesterfield at Broadhurst Park.

A number of the 2,916 fans in attendance were angry at the match being moved to a Monday night at the request of BT Sport.

They constantly sang anti BT and anti FA songs throughout the first half, where they stood outside the ground in an organised boycott. The only time the FC fans were quiet was during the impeccably observed Remembrance Weekend minutes silence, just prior to kick off.

FC United general manager, Andy Walsh, endorsed the boycotters, telling Quays News: “I think it’s a shame the whole thing has been tainted somewhat by the shifting of the fixture to a Monday night.

“But as a club, we debated and discussed this eight years ago on entry to the FA Cup that we’d do everything we could to avoid fixtures being moved but we did accept that from the rules of the FA Cup, that if they decided that the fixture would be shifted, then it would be.

“But it doesn’t stop us protesting, it doesn’t stop us making our case and judging by the response we’ve had, supporters of other clubs, there’s lots of supporters who feel the same way.”

All the protesting fans entered the stadium at half time. Duncan Whyte, of Salford, told Quays News: “The bigger picture is of fixtures being moved with no consideration whatsoever to fans coming to the games.

“Travelling Chesterfield fans are not too badly off, it’s not too far away, but it’s still on a Monday night for no other reason than the whim of television executives and it’s wrong.”

During the second half, the FC supporters carried on their protests. Their songs were sung with such vigour that BT Sport eventually used canned crowd noise in an attempt to draw attention away from the disgruntled home support.

Danielle Balem, of Stretford, agreed with Mr Whyte. She told Quays News that she hoped the protest would provoke other football fans who have being inconvenienced into protesting.

“We were delighted with the draw, only to find out it had been moved to Monday. It’s not just us, Newcastle fans had to get to Bournemouth on Saturday in the early afternoon, who thought of that?”

Mr Walsh echoed Miss Balem’s comments, saying: “We’re about giving supporters a platform, it is one of the things that we’re very proud of and there’s not enough of a stage for supporters to get their views heard.”

FC United boss Karl Marginson said after his side’s 4-1 defeat to the League One club: “We have seen a lot of protests, but the fact is we entered the FA Cup knowing full well this was a possibility.

“The members voted on it and the protests were quite vocal and that is down to the people’s choice – but at the end of the day football needs TV and TV needs football.”

A BT spokesperson commented: ““Fixture selection is a complex matter involving multiple partners. BT Sport always strives to balance its desire to cover matches with the needs of clubs, fans and local authorities. We are thrilled to welcome The FA Cup 1st Round back on BT Sport and we are focused on bringing viewers as many of the storylines and moments of the competition as possible.”

By Anthony Murphy

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