Tis the season to be jolly, after all it is Christmas. However, in the Premier League all is not well ahead of a busy Christmas period. Manager’s and players have already expressed that players welfare is not considered after the Premier League clubs chose to fulfil festive fixtures at a meeting on Monday.
The clubs will have to play three games in six days with covid figures rising rapidly. On paper this is a tough ask, but this situation has been happening for a few seasons now.
It’s all about the money, not the finished product
After all, this issue isn’t about players welfare it is all to do with the tv money and schedules that the clubs have to abide by. It seems remarkable that the clubs should start complaining now when before the first lockdown they were more than happy to play on, whatever the schedule.
With today’s larger squads, fitter players and more informed coaches, is a fixture list of four games in 12 or 14 days really that difficult?
Not like the old days
Back in the mid sixties I remember all to well English league games were played on Christmas Day with reverse fixtures 24 hours later on Boxing Day. Often they would play three games in four days.
The current fixture congestion is being caused by many different competitions and tournaments. Next year it will be even more complicated because of the Qatar World Cup taking place in November and December.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has also raised the possibility of players going on strike over welfare issues. Personally, I can’t see this happening, but in today’s modern world then who knows.
Back to five subs rule?
There has also been talk of going back to the five subs rule which was implemented at the beginning of the pandemic across the world.
We have to learn to live now with this ever-changing world. Covid could well be with us for the rest of our lifetimes. If so, it will have massive consequences in the sporting world.
On a personal note I really feel the Premiership manager’s and players should stop complaining about this schedule, and get on playing. All Premiership sides have big enough squads to get around this fixture congestion.
Squad rotation the key
The whole idea of having a big squad surely means that you can rest players and bring in others who are waiting in the wings. Covid is affecting everybody in the world. Yes, sides will have players who are having to self-isolate. Injuries and suspensions will happen, but these sides will have to adapt to this ever-growing problem.
This makes a mockery of Arsene Wenger’s recent comments about having a World Cup every two years.
How would the Premiership boys have to cope having to play three games a week on more than one occasion? Ask any non-league footballer, and they will tell you they have to do this on a regular occurrence.
Of course, non-league footballer is an entirely different ball game to the Premiership but is still brings players welfare into play.
On a slightly different note, and an oval shaped ball, Cardiff Blues rugby club recently had to play two Champions Cup matches with a depleted squad. The Welsh side had no less than 42 players out through covid, injuries and suspension. They never complained and managed to scrape together a side on both occasions that were competitive.
Finally, I must applaud Manchester United caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick’s recent comments about the Carabao Cup. He stated that the cup should be scrapped for Premier League clubs. Well said Mr Rangnick, something I have suggested for a while.
As we brace ourselves for a bumper bundle of festive football, spare a thought for the hard-working Premiership players. After all they are not the only ones who have to work over the Christmas and New Year period. Unlike most of the working population they are getting paid a lot more than you and me.