Manchester City have claimed that the Premier League's recently released festive fixture list threaten the 'sporting integrity' of the competition, complaining that title rivals Liverpool have a far more favourable schedule.
The crux of the complaint lies with the decision to push back the champions' Boxing Day clash against Wolves - the team that beat them in their last game - at Molineux to the day after at 7.45pm, leaving them just 48 hours before they host Sheffield United.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Omar Berrada, City's chief operating officer, said:
“We’re disappointed that the schedule is so tight for the players over Christmas. Premier League games are a huge physical demand, and it’s not ideal to be made to play twice in less than 48 hours because it doesn’t give the players time to properly recover.
“We obviously understand that the paying rights-holding broadcasters are an important consideration when it comes to scheduling, but we also need to make sure that we protect the players’ wellbeing, the sporting integrity of the league, and the quality of the product."
It is understood the Citizens attempted to have their match against the Blades pushed back to no avail, and Berrade admitted: “We’ve had an open dialogue with the league to consider other options, but ultimately, we will have to comply with the kick-off times and dates as they have been presented to us.”
This is despite the fact that Liverpool also have the Club World Cup to deal with in Qatar from the 18th to the 21st of December.
Boxing Day’s 8pm kick off shows no consideration to match-going fans & those employed at the stadiums.— Spirit of Shankly (@spiritofshankly) October 17, 2019
SOS call on the authorities to do the right thing and revert all Boxing Day fixtures to a sensible kick-off time. We suggest 3pm.#Nohohohohttps://t.co/kkTPxNcblr pic.twitter.com/CVHhZeZpZ4
Indeed, the news hasn't gone down too well on Merseyside, either, with Reds' supporters' group Spirit of Shankly claiming the scheduling of their Boxing Day clash against Leicester for 8pm offers no consideration to match-going supporters, and suggesting a 3pm start instead.
Speaking to the Telegraph about the situation, Kevin Miles, the Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive, declared: “In some ways fans have been softened up for this, but it’s not fair - it’s taking advantage of the match-going fan. The fans contribute so much. They play an integral part of what the Premier League is selling to broadcasters.
“I’m a Newcastle fan and our match against Aston Villa has been moved to a Monday night. It’s the 14th consecutive away Monday night fixture for Newcastle. Someone has taken the decision that 'those daft Geordies' will travel anywhere, any time so we can get away with it'.
“There is a real danger, particularly for away fans, that moving matches disrupts the ability to be able to plan travel and your life.”