Dave Seddon’s PNE Press View

Wembley hosts the play-off final but it will be late in the day
Wembley hosts the play-off final but it will be late in the day
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Half-past-five is time for tea or a relaxing post-work pint (chance would be a fine thing).

What it is not is the correct time to kick-off a play-off final at Wembley.

Rather family-unfriendly in an era when football is pulling out the stops to encourage mums and dads to take the children to matches.

But next Saturday and Sunday, Leagues Two and One have had that late afternoon start bestowed on their respective play-off finals.

These things are planned in advance and it is just a case of who reaches the showpiece having to fit in with it.

However, it is an issue which the Football League and Sky Sports should look carefully at if they are tempted to repeat it.

I’m not quite sure why League Two has the Saturday teatime start but the Premier League programme is the reason for Preston’s game with Swindon starting late doors.

The final round of top-flight games are kicking off at 3pm, then when they are done and dusted, the attention moves to Wembley.

Is it being simplistic to suggest it all being done the other way raound would have made more sense? Maybe kick-off the final at 2pm and start the Premier League games at 4.30pm.

Granted, that would have meant an earlier set-off for those travelling to Wembley on the day.

But at least they would then have the prospect of arriving back home at a reasonable hour, instead of in the early hours of Monday morning, which will be the case for North End supporters.

With the 5.30pm kick-off agreed months ago, it is with a degree of hindsight that I point out that there will be hardly anything riding on next week’s Premier League games.

If Sky are lucky, they will have one relegation place to work themselves into a frenzy over – otherwise it will be an afternoon salivating over the plight of the sides desperately trying to avoid qualifying for the Europa League.

It could have been different, had the title race gone to the last day, or if two of the three relegation places had not been filled a fortnight ahead of the season’s conclusion.

That probably best sums up the Premier League this season – rather dull and uninspiring – but I digress.

As it is, thousands of Preston and Swindon supporters will be heading home to Lancashire and Wiltshire respectively, with the clock ticking.

Keeping the kids happy on the coach back will be a challenge for many, although being able to celebrate a victory would be a big help!

I suppose this is one of those rare seasons when the Premier League runs so late and leads to a clash with the play-offs.

With it not being a World Cup or European Championship year, PL clubs chose to play a couple of extra weekends deeper into May, rather than squeeze in two midweek games earlier on.

The play-offs, while a marvellous spectacle and perhaps the best addition to the Football League, do put a lot of demand on supporters.

After nine months of following your club everywhere, to then have to find a lot of extra cash is tough.

The final isn’t cheap, £30 the cheapest seat for adult fans, £80 the top of the range.

You have your transport – £30 seems the going rate for a coach seat – and a hotel, if staying over is an option.

Take the family along for a day out and the credit card suddenly becomes a busy little fella. On top of your seat price, there are the additional handling and postage charges, which seem a touch excessive.

That said, I think PNE have done the right thing in using the See Tickets agency to handle ticket sales. While I’m sure the refresh button was hit plenty of times on computers or the phone line was redialled, surely that was better than being stood in a long queue?

I will always remember my eight-hour Sunday wait outside Deepdale in 1994 for tickets for the Third Division play-off final against Wycombe.

It was a free for all, open sale from the start with no priority for season ticket holders.

The sales point was three windows in the old Pavilion Stand, a hand stretching out from the darkness to take piles of cash off you with a bundle of tickets then pushed your way.

Someone told me on Twitter this week that unbeknown to many fans, some tickets for the 1994 final had been put on sale in Lancaster.

Those in the know had driven up the M6 and got their tickets in a matter of minutes.

Back to the present day, I hope everyone is either sorted for tickets now or will be over the next couple of days.

Hopefully, this can be PNE’s year and that the trip home – however late the hour – is a joyous one.