Newcastle United fans could be spared having to pay more for rail tickets when games are moved for TV

Newcastle United's loyal travelling supporters have already seen kick-off times - and even the days of away matches - change nine times this season.
Newcastle United's loyal travelling supporters have already seen kick-off times - and even the days of away matches - change nine times this season.

Football fans could soon be spared having to pay extra for train tickets when a match is rescheduled for television, it has been proposed.

Supporters currently face paying a fee to amend the cheapest train tickets when kick-off times and dates are changed.

There are also plans to boost stewarding on trains and ensure closer links between football clubs and British Transport Police.

There are also plans to boost stewarding on trains and ensure closer links between football clubs and British Transport Police.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said a fairer and more flexible arrangement is "within reach".

It is hoped trials will be launched for Premier League matches next season, and could be extended to the English Football League.

So far this season, nine of the Magpies' away games have been rescheduled for TV while some home games have also had kick-off times altered for the convenience of TV companies.

Related: Three Newcastle United games moved for TV

Fans currently have to pay to change rail tickets when matches are moved for live TV coverage.

Fans currently have to pay to change rail tickets when matches are moved for live TV coverage.

The Cardiff City match on Saturday, August 18, was moved forward to 12.30pm for screening by Sky Sports, while the game at Manchester City on Saturday, September 1, was delayed until 5.30pm for screening by BT Sport.

The game at Old Trafford on October 6 against Manchester United was again a 5.30pm kick-off, again so it could be shown on BT Sport, while the game at Burnley was switched from a Saturday to 8pm on Monday, November 26, for Sky Sports coverage.

Chelsea away on Saturday, January 12, was another lunchtime kick-off, due to being featured on BT Sport, while the trip to Wembley Stadium to face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, February 1, also meant an early start, to make the 12.30pm kick-off, courtesy of Sky Sports.

The club's most recent away game, at Wolves, was switched from last Saturday to Monday night, again for screening by Sky, and further games at West Ham United on Saturday, March 2, and Arsenal on Monday, April 1, have already been shifted for live TV coverage.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said he wants to end fans being hit in the pocket when games are switched for TV.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said he wants to end fans being hit in the pocket when games are switched for TV.

The proposal to stop fans having to shell out when games are moved follows an agreement between the Department for Transport, football authorities, British Transport Police (BTP) and industry body the Rail Delivery Group to collaborate on improving journeys for fans.

It also includes plans to boost stewarding on trains and ensure closer links between clubs and BTP. This is aimed at creating a better travelling environment for supporters and non-football fans whose travel coincides with matches.

The Premier League is drawing up an agreement to implement the measures.

Related: Newcastle United fans fined after verbally abusing and threatening female train passenger

Newcastle Central Station is the start and end point of many early-morning and late-night journeys for Newcastle United's travelling fans.

Newcastle Central Station is the start and end point of many early-morning and late-night journeys for Newcastle United's travelling fans.

Rail Minister Mr Jones said: "Football is all about passionate fans, and the last thing loyal supporters deserve is to pay more when matches are rescheduled at the last minute.

"That's why I'm delighted that the Government has helped secure a vital agreement that will bring together clubs, operators and British Transport Police.

"Significant changes are now within reach, which can ensure even more people use our railways to get to games and improve the experience for all passengers on match days.

"To drive this forward, I will be meeting with the Premier League and rail industry shortly to ensure our focus is on delivering a safe, secure and fair railway that works for fans, passengers, the clubs and the operators."

The number of Premier League matches televised or streamed live in the UK will reach 200 next season, earning the league more than £4.5 billion.

Supporters' groups have expressed concern that switching more matches from the traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off time will make it harder for some fans to attend.

Rail passengers are encouraged to select Advance fares to save money, but these can only be used on specific trains.

That means supporters who buy these fares to travel to a match which is then rescheduled face paying a £10 fee per ticket plus the difference in ticket cost.

Premier League executive director William Bush said: "We are working closely with the Government on an extensive range of schemes, and we are confident there are some truly transformational projects that we can take forward.

"Both the Premier League and Government are committed to working hard for a fairer, affordable, safer deal for football fans.

"We continue to work with rail industry leaders on proposals and look forward to setting out a joint way forward which will improve the travelling experience for fans on match days."

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said: "It's not fair that last-minute changes to the match day schedule can increase costs for travelling fans, which is why train companies are working together to see how we can increase flexibility and give people more certainty about their ticket.

"This has to be alongside the ongoing, cross-industry work to tackle anti-social behaviour from an extreme minority of people on match days so that we can ensure everyone travelling can have a comfortable journey."