Premier League festive fixtures criticised by fans over 'lack of consultation'

The Premier League has been criticised for the “disruption” caused by the timing of its festive fixtures and the delay in their release.

Fans groups say the fixtures, which have been moved for television and to ensure teams have longer between games, were delayed by two weeks.

Late kick-offs such as Arsenal v West Ham at 20:00 GMT on 26 December have caused travel concerns.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) criticised the “lack of consultation”.

The Gunners are also away at Brighton on 31 December at 17:30 GMT before they host Newcastle on 3 January at 20:00 GMT.

In a statement to BBC Sport, a Premier League spokesperson apologised for the delay in announcing the fixtures.



“A lack of fan consultation and confirmed fixtures two weeks late mean fans are once again disrupted,” AST told BBC Sport.

“Eight pm on Boxing Day, when transport is usually an issue, is poor. Then we have 5.30pm on New Year’s Eve, meaning we don’t get back into London until about 10pm.

“Then we have our game moved to the first day back, after the holidays against Newcastle, and people have to find a way to get back too.

“It’s a shame the broadcasters, Premier League and clubs don’t work together with fans more on issues such as kick off times.”

“We always endeavour to confirm Premier League fixtures by the provisional confirmation dates set prior to each season. We apologise to supporters that we were not able to meet one of those target dates for the first time this season,” a Premier League statement read.

“There are many factors involved in confirming fixtures including other competitions, policing, travel, broadcasting matters, safety considerations and inter-club agreement.”

The festive schedule sees games arranged for 10 of the 11 days between 26 December and 5 January. No team will play twice within 48 hours as has previously happened.

The Premier League returns with seven games on 26 December after a six-week break to allow for the World Cup in Qatar.

Fixture times for the rest of January have yet to be confirmed.

“With broadcasters increasingly calling the shots, supporters sadly are all too familiar with TV deadlines being missed and fixture lists being ripped up with insufficient notice,” a Football Supporters Association spokesperson told BBC Sport.

“This makes getting to games needlessly difficult and the public transport network almost impossible to use on matchdays.

“It’s clear that schedulers and the football authorities put the money that broadcasters bring way above the needs of matchgoing fans. This has to change.”

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust added: “Thirteen days late and still only half of the fixtures are confirmed. Unacceptable. Do better Premier League and Broadcasting Companies. Football fans deserve so much better.”

And Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust said: “Two weeks and we’re still waiting on the full fixture list up to the end of January. Get your act together @premierleague. We deserve better.”

Before the fixtures were announced other fan groups criticised the delay.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said: “The festive period is a very busy and expensive time, and supporters are currently unable to make plans or book annual leave with employers.

“Train fares continue to rise and there is clearly little empathy being offered from football authorities.”

Fan groups from West Ham, Leeds and Newcastle also voiced their frustration with the timings, with West Ham’s Supporters Trust tweeting: “Most expensive time of year, families gathering, plans need to be made – not good enough”.

The Premier League added: “”The process for these match selections took longer than expected or desired, due to relevant local stakeholder approvals being delayed which, had they not been provided, would have impacted on the scheduling of other matches.

“While our target fixture confirmation dates are approximate, we will continue to consider how we can improve these processes going forward.”

Original article published 25.10.2022 on the BBC Sport website.

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