by Nia Griffiths
Despite growing concern that the English teams in the Champions League haven’t been successful as we would’ve hoped, the Chief Executive of the Premier League has confirmed that weekend fixtures will not be moved to Fridays.
For a while now, there’s been talk of the Premier League’s designated Champions League spots, of which there are currently four (with fourth being a qualifying round), being reduced to just three. For the moment, the spots are safe, but the continued failure of the English teams in Europe during recent seasons means this might not be for long.
One theory behind this is fatigue. Playing during the weekend and then midweek can be exhausting for the players, preventing them from performing at their best and potentially progressing. A way to combat this would be to change some of the Premier League fixtures so they occur on the Friday beforehand. This gives them an extra day or two more rest before their European match.
However, Richard Scudamore has confirmed that this won’t be the case, saying, “From 2016/17 we are playing some games on Friday nights, but we won’t move individual fixtures as you can’t do it for everybody. Champions League teams play on a Tuesday and a Wednesday so you can’t move matches just to suit one team. It completely ruins everything you do.”
He continued, “The entire fixture calendar in the UK is predicated upon clubs having a three-day gap, so you can’t bring games forward to a Friday. Maybe because there’s normally something going on the previous Wednesday. We’ve looked at it, but it’s practically impossible to do anything.”
Oddly, despite not agreeing to put precautions in place to allow the English teams optimum fitness for their European fixture, the Chief Executive acknowledged, “There is a concern. If we keep declining, it’s bad for our co-efficient and we’ll lose one of our [four] Champions League places. We have to be careful. It’s a concern, but it’s difficult to see what we can do about it centrally as the clubs are trying hard enough to win.”