Middlesbrough Supporters Forum statement after Sky's Cardiff City trip decision

The Middlesbrough supporters cheer on their team
-Credit: (Image: James Heaton/News Images)

The Middlesbrough Supporters Forum have released a statement urging Sky Sports and the EFL to have more consideration for travelling supporters when making their broadcast picks.

On Wednesday, Sky Sports made their first picks of the new EFL broadcast deal which sees five Championship games a weekend shown live. Because of the many changes that will occur to the schedule as a result, Sky and the EFL committed to giving supporters far more notice on picks as part of the new deal.

However, many Boro fans were angered as the first batch for TV were announced, with all three of Boro's away games in August and September moved to kick-off at 12.30 pm. While trips to Sunderland and Derby County are more a minor inconvenience, it's particularly the trip to Cardiff City - roughly a five-and-a-half hour drive from the Riverside - that has angered supporters.

READ MORE: Notice is welcome but Sky and EFL can still do better by fans as Middlesbrough TV pick highlights

Sky previously chose this fixture for the same broadcast slot back in 2021 and Middlesbrough supporters made their discontent known on that day too. Holding up a banner at the Cardiff City Stadium, it read: "12.30 pm kick-off, 570 miles. Sky - putting fans last."

Amid this latest schedule change, Middlesbrough Supporters Forum released a statement which read: "The first tranche of televised matches will see Boro playing in South Wales at 12.30 on a Saturday. This is going to be really tough on travelling fans having to set off in the middle of the night just to make kick-off.

"It is almost as if no consideration has been given whatsoever to the travelling fans. This season for the first time Sky will broadcast seven matches at 12.30 [across all of the EFL] as well other games on Friday, Sunday and occasionally also Thursday.

"We urge them to consider the travelling spectators and remember without the fans there is no TV spectacle. We urge the EFL and Sky TV to consider supporters before they allocate kick-off times in future fixtures."

As part of the new broadcast deal, Sky have committed to showing every Championship club at least 24 times over the course of a season. However, the first and last games of the season, all midweek games, all Carabao Cup games and all bank holiday games are included within that 24.

The new broadcast deal is said to be worth £179m annually, representing a 50% increase on the previous rights value for clubs. It's much-needed revenue, particularly in the Championship where outgoing costs are far higher than revenue for almost all clubs. But that does not make the decision to move Boro's trip to Cardiff to a lunchtime kick-off any easier to swallow for dedicated Boro fans who will be hoping to make the trip to South Wales to back Michael Carrick's side.

Sky say both clubs and local authorities have been consulted and have agreed to the selection of this game, while the EFL and safety advisory groups also approve any fixture changes.