Newcastle have been forced to play 19% of their total League Games for the season in a single month – December. This becomes 8 games in 33 days if you include the home game against Manchester City on 2nd January.
Sam Allardyce is justifiably upset at the poor scheduling of games by the English Premier League who have contrived to force the Tyneside club to play 7 games in December.
Let’s take a look at what Sam has been saying about this rather stupidly conceived congestion of fixtures – mainly because of TV coverage.
Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce – fuming at Newcastle’s league fixture congestion
What is true is that by the end of the year we should know how well positioned we are in the league, because there are 21 league points at stake during the festive month and 24 points in 33 days from December 1st. Let’s hope we hit form then
As we reported yesterday the Arsenal home fixture, originally scheduled for August, will now be televised on 5th December meaning Newcastle kick-off the month with three games in eight days. They also have been handed a hectic schedule over the holiday period.
With Newcastle playing just three times during November, the Newcastle boss is understandably very upset at the fixture changes.
Newcastleâ€™s December Schedule of Games:
1 Blackburn (a) 3pm 5 Arsenal (h) 7.45pm 8 Birmingham (h) 3pm 15 Fulham (a) 5.15pm 23 Derby (h) 2pm 26 Wigan (a) 3pm 29 Chelsea (a) 3pm
Hereâ€™s what Sam had to say to nufc.co.uk today:
“It’s an absolute disgrace,” “We play four games in 15 days at the start of December and then they expect us to play four more in just 10 days at the back end of the month.â€
“By the time this month is over we will have played just three games in total, and then the same again in November. “That’s six games in two months and then eight in just one.
“During December there will be a massive 24 points at stake, which could make a massive difference to the outcome of the season.
“Why they have done this is beyond me, but all I know is that every one of our requests to the Premier League has been turned down.”
These changes are not at all made to accommodate the fans â€“ they are made to accommodate the TV, where all the money is coming from. Fans have to take the brunt of this and are continually being messed around with these continuous changes.
Sam also criticized the decision to force Newcastle’s supporters to travel back from Fulham at a later time than previously planned. The Fulham fixture has been moved back to a 5.15pm kick-off to accommodate live TV coverage.
Sam went on:
“I can’t work out why they have made our fans go to London at one of the most expensive times of year to play there twice,” “And it will be difficult for them to get back from Fulham with the new kick-off time.”
“The fixture list gives us no time to recover for our FA Cup Third Round tie, not to mention the fact that we will lose up to five players at the start of January for the African Cup of Nations, in Geremi, Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye, Oba Martins and possibly Matty Pattison.
“We are one of only two nations now in Europe who don’t have the mid-season break, and I think it needs to be looked at.”
The only thing we can say to lift the spirits a little is that it would be even worse if we were in Europe with the extra fixtures a successful run in that competition gives each club. However, hopefully we can get most of our players back by December, so they can help to take the load on the playing staff. Carr, Babayaro and Duff – are you reading this?
This will also be a good test of the strength of Samâ€™s squad. It’s becoming clear that to be successful in English football these days, a club needs a really big squad, with all the fixtures to play during a season. Roll on the January transfer window.
Comments very welcome.