A Manchester City fans group has accused the Football Association of “doing the bare minimum” in amending the Community Shield kick-off time and called for a further change.
After this and other complaints, the FA, in conjunction with broadcaster ITV, moved the game to 4pm.
This has not gone far enough for some fans and, while they are no longer expecting a “full boycott”, 1894 still feels the kick-off should be brought forward again by another hour.
A statement from the group, issued via the Football Supporters’ Association, read: “We repeat our request to the FA and to ITV to help more fans attend the game by bringing the kick-off time to 3pm.
“In the eyes of many fans, the very quick decision to move the game from 5.30pm to 4pm and hastily-arranged PR releases from the FA came across as them doing the bare minimum and expecting a round of applause for the decision.
“The subsequent statement from the FA said 4pm was agreed after consultation with the police, the local council and the broadcaster (ITV). However, the most important stakeholder was not consulted… the fans!”
Travel arrangements for Wembley fixtures have been a recurring source of frustration for north west teams in recent seasons.
Late kick-offs leave supporters travelling by rail limited time to get back to stations before the final trains north and there are general concerns about arriving home late at night and the high costs involved. These issues have been exacerbated for some high-profile fixtures by rail strikes and engineering works.
The 1894 statement added: “We feel 3pm is a fair request to the authorities to allow more people to travel back at a sensible time.
“To expect 30,000 fans to travel back north late on a Sunday evening is unfair. Wembley is a great, iconic venue but there are challenges getting to and from there, so we call on ITV and the FA to help our fans in particular by offering an earlier kick-off which allows families to attend.”
The group is still encouraging fans not to attend the game and support local foodbanks instead. It has organised a screening of the match at the Band on the Wall venue in Manchester city centre and proceeds will be donated to such causes.
“Fans can make a difference – even if a full boycott is not expected at this stage,” the statement added.
“It’s hard to sacrifice watching your own team play. However, some fans are seeing it is an opportunity to make a statement.
“It’s not the FA Cup final, it’s not the Champions League final. It is a game in the scheme of things where fans, if they are not valued, can choose to walk away from attending.”
The FA has said it has no intention of changing the time again.
A spokesperson said: “We have already moved the kick-off time from 5.30pm to 4pm to assist supporters attending the match. We have a number of considerations when setting kick-off times, and 4pm on Sunday is a regular and well-established kick-off time throughout the football season.
“We are confident that fans will be able to return home to Manchester in good time.”