London – Manchester City believe the sporting integrity of the Premier League has been compromised by the scheduling of a hectic festive period that will see the English champions play twice in less than 48 hours.
City’s game at Wolves has been pushed back from Boxing Day to December 27, kicking off at 17.45 (19:45 SA time).
That gives them less than two days to prepare for their game at home to Sheffield United, now set for 18:00 on December 29.
The change to the Wolves fixture also means Nuno Espirito Santo’s men will have 24 hours less to rest ahead of their trip to City’s title rivals Liverpool on December 29.
Liverpool already hold an eight-point lead over City at the top of the table.
“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,” City’s chief operating officer Omar Berrada told the Manchester Evening News.
“We also need to make sure that we protect the players’ wellbeing, the sporting integrity of the league, and the quality of the product.
“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.”
Liverpool fans are also unhappy at the fixture announcement made on Thursday as they face the trip to Leicester for an 20:00 kick-off on Boxing Day, a national holiday with limited public transport available.
“The latest round of televised Premier League games has been announced and once again there is scant, if any, consideration given to match-going supporters and those employed at the stadiums,” Liverpool fans group the Spirit of Shankly said in a statement.
“The Premier League and TV companies repeatedly ignore the welfare of supporters. But they do have a chance to redeem themselves.
“Spirit of Shankly call on the authorities to do the right thing and revert all Boxing Day fixtures to a sensible kick-off time.”
Supporters groups had already been angered by the delay in releasing the fixtures, which were originally scheduled to be announced on October 11.
“These fixtures are five days late. This impacts on family arrangements, the price of train tickets, the ability to book leave and much more,” said the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust.
“It is especially sensitive over Christmas, when match-going fans already have challenges regarding fitting in with family arrangements.”