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Brian Reade: 'Think current Prem scheduling is a joke? You've seen nothing yet'

Clubs who whine boringly about television's power over football while trousering all that lovely cash have ignored what it would mean for travelling fans and voted to give their pay-masters more games in new time-slots from 2019


Seven weeks ago, Premier League chairmen voted unanimously to shoehorn extra televised games into their already heavy schedule.

They said they would be delighted to sell around 200 matches — up from the current 168 — to be played in new midweek, Bank Holiday and Saturday night slots from the 2019/20 season.

The Football Supporters' Federation vehemently opposed the move, arguing that the creation of new kick-off times would leave travelling fans even more exposed to the whims of broadcasters whose only concern was optimising ratings.

Naturally, their pleas fell on deaf ears, because the chairmen had been assured the extra games and new slots would bring in bids that would dwarf the current £5.14 billion deal.

In other words — Who cares, when the games are played so long as we get an even bigger stake in the gold-rush?

Chairmen have voted in Saturday night games for the first time, despite the travel issues for fans (Image: Getty)

As Premier League clubs could tell anyone who believes that the punishing festive schedule has gone beyond a joke — you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Which makes you wonder why West Brom chairman John Williams bothered to lodge an official complaint with the Premier League about having to play twice in 48 hours.

His main grouse was that Tuesday’s opponents West Ham had longer to prepare than his side (although he didn’t mention his Baggies had five days to prepare for the previous game with Arsenal, who'd only had three).

Allowing TV companies to cherry-pick and stagger their choice of games across a number of days will inevitably lead to such disparities.

And selling them a fresh slate of TV slots means that will only get worse.

Yet Williams and all the other chairmen not only gave the green light for this congested run of fixtures, but for an even more chaotic one down the line.

West Brom and Arsenal finished up at around 6.30pm on Sunday... (Image: PA)

...and the Baggies kicked off again at West Ham just 49 hours later (They lost 2-1. To a stoppage-time goal. By a side who'd had a week's rest) (Image: Getty)
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  • West Brom make formal complaint to Premier League about Christmas and New Year fixtures

So why doesn’t he now pester Richard Scudamore to reverse the offer to expand the TV slots or vote for an 18-club Premier League ensuring a winter break?

There’s no chance, is there?

Collectively, the Premier League wants to milk the TV cash cow for all it’s worth, not caring about the impact of fixture scheduling on their players and certainly not their fans.

Occasionally, to look good, some make a noise about the vandalisation of the fixture list, while hypocritically ignoring their starring role in it.

This selective amnesia about how TV assumed such power isn’t just suffered by chairmen.

How laughable was it to hear Jose Mourinho slam the “rock and roll” pundits sitting in studios when he demands rock star wages bank-rolled by TV cash?

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  • "We are going to kill the players": Man City boss Guardiola fumes over festive schedule

As Mourinho touts for a 25 per cent pay rise to £15 million-a-year, does he think the money will come from sales of Special One coffee mugs in the United souvenir shop?

Mourinho is not alone.

Last week, Rafa Benitez hit back at Sky’s Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville for questioning his bus-parking tactics when Newcastle were at home to Manchester City.

And before West Brom sacked Tony Pulis he slammed the multitude of TV pundits who have “failed as managers”, complaining that they are the ones piling the pressure on Premier League bosses.

Which neatly overlooked his own atrocious tactics, and the multi-million pound bonuses he’s received for keeping sides in the Premier League which were funded by TV companies who pay those pundits for their views.

This constant whining about the overbearing power of TV by the people who benefit most from it is boring and dishonest.

If chairmen really want to shield their players from injuries and managers don’t want to hear their work honestly analysed by ex-players in studios, the answer is simple: Don’t give TV companies all the power with one hand while taking their cash in the other.

Because you know who would really benefit from that?

Your fans.

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