Leaving Football Matches Early: Why Ian Holloway Was Right To Criticise His Own Fans

Featured Image Source: Total Futbal

On Tuesday night, after QPR scored two goals in added time to complete a dramatic comeback against Brentford, QPR manager Ian Holloway criticised many of his own fans for leaving the game early.

It’s proved to be a pretty divisive¬†rant which has led to some criticism. Fans and journalists were demanding apologies and the next day; he did, posting a video where he kind of backtracked on his comments.

Given by the way he spoke in the video and the fact that it was posted on QPR’s social media the next day, it seems pretty likely that the club made him do it, and to be honest, I don’t know why he should’ve had to. I don’t know why this has been so divisive, and I don’t know why people feel insulted by this.

Media Trained Monkeys

Football, Sports, Sportsmen, Journalism, Interviews, Ian Holloway
Interviews with sportspeople tend to be pretty similar these days. Image source: imgur.com

Ok, I’m deviating a little bit to start, but firstly, why should Holloway have to apologise for this if it’s how he feels? People in sport are now so limited to what they can say in an interview that they don’t provide any insight into how they actually feel at all. You know that they’re just trained to say the same things about how they really tried hard and how good the fans were. If they say anything else, a statement appears 24 hours later apologising for what they said. If we want to¬†hear what they actually think, they should be allowed to say anything they want, otherwise, it’s pointless.

Managers and players shouldn’t be made to apologise for anything they say in an interview or on social media either, most things they’re made to apologise for aren’t even that insulting, it’s just the media trying to make a story and the public being over-sensitive. If it’s anything that’s actually inappropriate or offensive, then chances are they’ll release it and apologise without being made to.

Holloway’s Apology

Ian Holloway, QPR, Queen Park Rangers, Apologise, Fans Leaving Early
Holloway apologises for offending fans in his post-match interview on Tuesday night. Source: @QPRFC on Twitter

I especially don’t think Holloway should have had to apologise for what he said. Why praise the fans if they weren’t there to support the team when they picked up those crucial goals? He praised the fans who were there, so surely that’s fine? It’s daft to think that every individual or group of fans in the world are amazing, there’s going to be some that aren’t fully behind their team, so why pretend that all fans are always amazing all of the time? If a manager feels let down by his supporters, especially in this manner, he should be able to say it.

This is especially the case for Holloway. When your players are working their socks off right until the last minute to try and get a result – even when the game is likely lost – it seems a bit ignorant of your efforts when people would rather go home early then support the team and reward those efforts. In the same way, it’s a reward for the fans who stay to support the team when their support helps their team get a result. It works both ways.

Yeah, But, We’ve Got to Beat the Traffic.

Traffic, Football Fans, Fans Leaving Early, QPR, Ian Holloway
One of the most common reasons for fans leaving early is to beat the traffic. Source: Daily Express

Come on, really?? There are QPR fans justifying leaving early on social media because they had to beat the rush and get home. I hate this excuse at the best of times but at home? In London? Against Brentford? That just isn’t good enough. London is one of the best-connected cities in the world, you can get just about everywhere in the city with ease, especially now the tube operates 24 hours. There’s no need to have to leave early due to transport issues in London.

Surely if you love your team that much it’s worth putting up with the extra traffic? Especially now when there are so many ways to make travelling more bearable. If you’re in a group of fans or friends, you can talk about the game and about your club. Even if you’re by yourself, you can listen to the radio to find out the other results, listen to commentary on other games, or even just plug in a pair of headphones and listen to some music to get you through it. Leaving early because traffic is bad is more down to impatience than the¬†inconvenience.

The “Leaving Early” Debate in General

Football, Football Fans, fans leaving early, West Ham, West Ham United
West Ham Fans leave the London Stadium before the end of the game. Fans leaving football matches early isn’t an uncommon sight. Source: Squawka.com

Again, I don’t really get how there is even an argument to debate here.

The thing is, this is a topic that has been rumbling on¬†for years and years and years now. As we all know, this isn’t an isolated incident. QPR V Brentford isn’t the first match in history where a number of fans have left before full time, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Fans commonly leave early on Saturday home games, when matches are at a convenient time and when they live local. They¬†still choose to leave early to beat the rush. It’s still daft if you’re going to an away game as well. Why travel all that way and pay all of that money to not watch the entire game? Even when it’s been a great game that is poised for a late winner or equaliser, we see an increase in empty seats around the ground, and I just don’t get how so many fans can justify it.

Arsenal, Reading, Football fans, fans leaving early.
This Arsenal fan famously left early when his team were 4-0 down at Reading. Arsenal went on to win the match 5-7. Source: Daily Mail

Sure, you might miss the traffic and get home a bit earlier, but the best moments in football are those that are closest to the end: Late goals, late drama, celebrations after the final whistle. It’s like ordering a hot dog and just eating the bun. You wouldn’t do that because the sausage is the best part, it’s the part you’re paying your money for. So in the same way, why pay over the odds for a matchday ticket to leave before the climax of the game? Like I’ve said, putting up with traffic is worth it, especially with how easy it is to numb the pain of traffic in 2017.

I know I sound like a school headmaster lecturing his pupils on poor attendance, you aren’t obligated to go to a match and you definitely aren’t obligated to stay for the full 90, but when you can, you should. Wheather you are 2-0 up, 2-0 down, or even 4-0 down, this season has already provided many¬†reasons why you should never leave early.

If you leave before full time, one day the football Gods will punish you. Yet every time this argument is put to fans who leave a game early there’s is a massive backlash, and I can’t help but feel completely and utterly dumbfounded by that.

Not Everyone Can Stay Until The Full-Time Whistle


Leicester City, Football fans, young football fans, fans leaving early
Young fans are some of the most passionate in the game but aren’t able to get to as many games. Source: Sky Sports

If you can’t tell already, this is a subject I’m particularly passionate about, but even in amongst all my blind rage I appreciate that there will be some exceptions – some people will have legitimate reasons where they need to leave early.

Young fans are naturally going to find it more difficult to get to and from games. They’ll be more reliant on public transport than others and are more likely to have a limited budget which will stifle their options as well. Who knows, they might even be restricted to when their parents come to pick them up. Sometimes people have personal reasons why they may need to leave early as well. They might have emergencies to attend to or important jobs that need doing.

Do these issues apply to every fan that leaves early though? I think it’s unlikely.

liftshare.com, car share, football fans, fans leaving early, traffic, fans missing games
Site’s like liftshare.com are making getting car shares and lift’s to and from games easier. Source: liftshare.com

If transport is an issue, surely you factor that in when planning your transport home? Even when it’s a midweek game. You know when the¬†game finishes, so you know when to look for transport. If there isn’t any club funded or public transport available, surely you can care share with someone? Fan communities are huge and you meet loads of friends through football, some will be available to drive and are worth asking for a lift.

I can sympathise when it’s a midweek fixture as well. Staying until the end of the game might mean a long night of travelling when you have a shift at work the next day. If this is that big of a problem though, – as painful as missing a match seems – maybe you need to consider if it’s worth going?


So, yes, there are exceptions, but for the majority, there isn’t an excuse to leave early. I maintain that if you truly love your club that much, that extra hour in traffic for those last ten minutes in the ground should all be worth it for the chance to see your team steal a result right at the death of the game.


How do you feel about fans leaving matches early? Do you leave early on a regular basis, and if so why? Let us know below and while you’re there, check out articles similar to this one. Plus, keep up to date with the latest posts by following The Great Escapisms on Facebook and Twitter.


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