Barely 24 hours after the release of next season’s Premier League fixtures, the whining has begun.
Not, this time, the constant chelping about how Team A has an easy start, Team B has an easy run-in and Team W is always at home after European games. No, this time it’s the FA. In a nutshell, the FA is unhappy that the FA Premier League has scheduled some games to take place on a scheduled league weekend prior to some England internationals. Oh, the horror. Won’t somebody, anybody, think of the children?
The games in question are Liverpool v Manchester United and Arsenal v Tottenham which are penned in for the weekend prior to England’s qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine. An FA report highlights a “sense of grievance” towards the FA Premier League over the issue which goes against a request for none of what they refer to as box-office matches to be staged immediately prior to England games with particular reference to the possibility of the games being moved to the Sunday for broadcast purposes.
Now, you can’t have things both ways. These four teams would have to play somebody on that weekend and, surely, in the self-styled Best League In The World, whoever they were playing would be some serious opposition. To suggest otherwise would seem to undermine the notion.
Moreover, in the most recent England squad – admittedly a post-season brace of friendlies blighted by the usual withdrawals – Manchester United contributed three players, Arsenal two, Liverpool and Spurs one each. West Brom and Reading had players involved and recent call-ups include Sunderland, Norwich, West Ham, Southampton and twice as many Stoke players as Liverpool had in Brazil. Are we really suggesting that the four clubs whose fixtures are being complained about are actually that significant to the make-up of the squad that crucial ahead of a home game against the team ranked 134th by FIFA? Also, England remain an anomaly in modern football in that their national squad almost exclusively from their domestic league and until that changes, the FA will always be at the whim of the fixture planners at the FA Premier League.
But above all, as may have been subtly pointed out above, the FA are chelping about the FA Premier League. If that doesn’t flag up the issues facing English football and where the real power lies, then nothing ever will.