It has been mentioned across numerous football sites by famous footballers like Peter Crouch on twitter, how the Premier League lost a golden opportunity to give a fitting heartfelt send off to the recently deceased monarch, prior to matches this weekend.
Many, including The Mag, have also compared it to the response by other sporting bodies like that of Rugby, Cricket, Golf, Horse Racing etc and wondered why, of all the big sporting bodies / events, only the Premier League chose to be different?
I have not so much a theory, as a time tested and proven reason, why such things (baffling to the rest of the world) occur with regularity when it comes to the Premier League. It is the dominance or sway held by the ‘Super League Six’ clubs (Man Utd and Liverpool in particular, but ably supported by Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and often by their silence on such matters – Man City too) as I like to call them (and so should everyone else – permanently).
Why did they make this happen, especially in a season that is already congested due to a winter World Cup?
The way this season is structured, the Champions League / Europa League group stage games have been brought very tightly together. This weekend of Premier League games fell in between the first two rounds of group games. It’s usually the case that the teams involved in those European fixtures, especially if away from home, tend to drop more points during the subsequent weekend Premier League rounds than they otherwise would. Making this game week seven disappear, conveniently allows their players rest and since European fixtures are on in the coming week, they can also have their players fresh and use first choice players without rotation for the second round of games in European competition. This also removed any advantage (or perhaps leveling of the playing field) their game week seven Premier League opponents might have had, by having a full week to prepare and strategise their downfall.
Now, these postponed games will be held during the second half of the season – midweek – when European competitions are not being played, meaning that the ‘Super League Six’ (this catching on yet?) and their opponents would be in the same boat of having Premier League games either side of the midweek, with the ‘Super League Six’ having better squad depth to rotate players, compared to their opponents.
With an international break coming up post the subsequent game week eight Premier League matches next weekend, and potentially unresolvable fixture congestion later in the season were that round also to be postponed, you’d think the Premier League wouldn’t allow next weekend to also go fallow.
However, you can be sure that the ‘Super League Six’ would only see another round of games immediately post-European fixtures as a potential points drop, that could let other clubs like Newcastle and West Ham into European spots in the final table at their expense and are likely to try to influence the Premier League board, in my opinion, to cancel those fixtures too.
Already we hear murmurs regarding the Chelsea vs Liverpool game being in London next Sunday to be called off, ostensibly so as to ‘lessen the burden’ on the police a day prior to the Queen’s funeral.
Having domestic fixtures three days post European ones only four times in the first half of the season, instead of six times, is a gift that could ensure knockout qualification (especially post-losses in Europe in round one for half of them) which in turn guarantees higher revenue (both prize money and commercial) and keeps them financially, multiple levels above the other 14 PL clubs.
Add to all this the fact that three of them (the same three that also lost in Europe and the three that hold sway the most in the Premier League decisions – and yes that’s also a cheeky dig at refereeing/VAR decisions), Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd, have had indifferent starts to their Premier League campaigns too. Postponement of game weeks seven and eight doesn’t just allow them to concentrate on getting back into the qualification mix in Europe ,but it also allows them almost a month long break from the Premier League through September, to work on what’s gone wrong and set it right by the time October rolls in.
In any other field of business or sport, this would be considered as unethical behaviour bordering on illegal advantage, but the Premier League has a long history, such that these things don’t surprise anymore. What did surprise me was that no one else thus far seems to have looked at these obvious facts and chosen to call them out (at least on a public forum).
The reason why I chose to break my silence and come out of hibernation (yes, ironic going into winter) is that if there isn’t public pressure built up by a large enough fanbase talking about this, I fear the ‘Super League Six’ will get their way and game week eight will also be consigned to the bin.
Such things can have serious consequences on relegation battles come the end of the season and change the destiny of many clubs (but not the ‘Super League Six’) long into the future.
While fortunately our own club is highly unlikely to get dragged into such a situation in the near future, if ever, we must raise our voice for those that suffer through no / little fault of their own and stop the gentrified few affect decisions for everyone for their own gains.
I am also puzzled that other European associations, or their clubs, have chosen not to speak (perhaps as the Queen’s death is a sensitive subject) about the unfair advantage English clubs will gain by not playing on the weekend ahead of round two fixtures, while they all will do so.
Football has gone far enough down a black hole of their making and to use even events like the passing of a monarch to their convenience, shows these ‘top clubs’ will stop at nothing if not forced to do so (remember the whole Super League fiasco from last year which hasn’t fully died yet and may not ever).
I hope fans reading this will pass it on to their friends who are fans at the ‘Other 14’ clubs to gain consensus and make sure the right thing happens next weekend.
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Source : TheMag