News that the home World Cup in 2015 will be a largely nocturnal event was greeted with the usual degree of weary exasperation by dedicated England supporters up and down the country – an unwelcome response as far as the organisers were concerned, but easy enough to bear. However, those organisers may be just a little less blasé now that the political class has joined the argument.
Clive Efford, the Labour MP for Eltham and the party’s sport spokesman, on Thursday urged the England 2015 delivery body to revisit the kick-off schedule for the global tournament, which currently has the host nation playing all four pool matches at 8pm – an unusually late hour that will inevitably maximise transport hassles for those travelling long distances.
“I do have sympathy with fans who object to 8pm kick-offs at Twickenham and they should be listened to,” Efford said. “Clearly, people will find it difficult to get away. If you’ve been to Twickenham and had to queue to get the train, you know what it’s like. It will be a very long time before many fans are even on the train, and that can’t be right. It’s the fans who create the atmosphere. ”
He was far more supportive of the organisers in another respect: their pursuit of legislation aimed at outlawing the unauthorised resale of match tickets. The Government is not in favour of the idea, so Efford has tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons with the support of almost 30 fellow MPs. “If we don’t have this protection, organised gangs of touts with all the technology at their disposal will hoover up as many tickets as they can and genuine fans will be exploited,” he said.