Premier League Managers Are Frustrated About Fixture Schedule

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One way to address fixture congestion is to have a squad that’s deep enough to cope with playing more games in fewer days.

Jose Mourinho has complained about fixture congestion (photo, Skysports)

Premier League managers seem to have put their differences aside to fight for a common cause. They are concerned about playing too many games in only a few days. Clubs play weekend and mid-week games as their fixtures consist of League and Cup games–together with European games for those that qualify.

While Premier League’s big clubs are eager to make it into the Champions League, they moan about “fixture congestion.” They want all the financial benefits, but at no extra cost.

I think the major problem is the time of the weekend games after mid-week travel for European games. Coming back from a long European trip during the week takes a toll on the players, and clubs are left with little time to prepare for League games over the weekend.

That’s why Jose Mourinho wasn’t happy playing on Saturday against Crystal Palace following a long road trip back from Moscow. And Antonio Conte whined about Chelsea having to face Manchester City barely 48 hours after returning from its mid-week Champions League game against Atletico Madrid. Manchester City, he argued, had much more time to prepare for the game.

Courtesy: Sportskedia

Several managers have criticised FA for not listening to their demands. Among other things, they’ve asked for games to be rescheduled during the Christmas and New Year periods. Other leagues–those in Spain, Germany, France, and Italy–give their players a holiday during those periods. It may be one reason why continental teams often perform better than Premier clubs in European competition.

While that’s a matter of conjecture, several things are indisputable: the fixtures are being scheduled before the summer transfer window opens and the TV rights for fixtures are then being sold immediately. If the FA decides to change some of the fixtures to favour the big clubs, that adjustment will be a tough sell to television companies that have spent billions to acquire TV rights. And, yet, these are the very same clubs that demand an increasingly larger share of broadcast revenues.

Is it possible for the big clubs to push for rescheduling some of these fixtures? The Premier League is a private establishment with twenty shareholders. Those shareholders are the clubs. They own the League. They can decide whatever TV deal they want, and they can make any demand they wish within the structure of a deal. That includes deciding which days games should be played and at what time – as long as adjustments fit into the UEFA and FIFA calendars.

Courtesy: Live Sports News

But I think that clubs not in European competition will object to fixture changes. They could argue that the big clubs have a competitive edge, both in terms of cash they receive for participating in Champions League as well as in terms of their overall financial power. There’s also the matter of whether the Premier League is concerned about the possible public perception that tampering with the fixture calendar will come at a cost, such as questioning the integrity of the League.

While I suspect that managers will continue to complain about fixture pile-ups, I also believe that they should be prepared to deal with the schedule–irrespective of day and time. One way to address fixture congestion is to have a squad that’s deep enough to cope with playing more games in fewer days.


About Geoffrey Ofoegbu

I’m from Abuja, Nigera. I have passion for football (soccer) and enjoy writing articles about the clubs, managers, players, and anything connected with the game. It has always been my dream to be a sport columnist. Joining the team at TSC is a stepping stone to fulfilling that dream–launching a career in the sports industry. Sport of Expertise: Football, Basketball. Favorite Teams: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal. Favorite Players: Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Antonio Valencia.

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