The holiday season in general, is a time for family he said, sounding like a walking Hallmark card. But it’s true! People take time off work, people travel to get to other family members’ houses, and life just generally slows down to a more pleasant pace.
That is, unless you’re the Premier League. Unlike most European leagues, who take 3-4 weeks off between mid-December and mid-January and somehow still manage to be solvent, thriving businesses with lots of fans, the Premier League feels it necessary to cram as many matches into the “festive period” as possible.
Unlike in other leagues, Premier League footballers are automatons without families, emotions, or normal human lives...oh wait. Just look at the dates of matches from Arsenal’s last three late Decembers/early Januaries:
2016/17: Dec 26, Jan 1, Jan 3. This is positively rational compared to the previous two seasons.
2015/16: Dec 21, 26, 28, Jan 2
2014/15: Dec 21, 26, 28, Jan 1
I mean, that’s insane. And Arsenal aren’t alone in this - every PL team plays a similarly bonkers schedule in the last two weeks of December, for no reason except because TV says they should.
This year, the Premier League, in its
infinite wisdom, thought it’d be a good idea to schedule matches on Christmas Eve. Arsenal was one of the lucky teams tapped to play on that day, against Liverpool, and almost as soon as it was announced, there was an outcry about it. The outcry was not just because of the players and their lives, but also because of the fans that would have to travel from Liverpool to London on Christmas Eve, when travel services are greatly curtailed so that, you know, transit workers can be with their families like normal people.
Well, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, among other groups, took a hard line against Christmas Eve fixtures in the press and with the broadcasters, and today, that paid off:
'AST met with & had discussions with Premier League, Sky & Arsenal on this issue & are pleased they listened & dropped all Xmas eve games'.— AST (@AST_arsenal) October 19, 2017
That’s right, the league and Sky have backed down and are now saying there will be no games played on Christmas Eve.
This is a huge win for the fans, and it shows that with enough pressure things like this can be changed. Arsenal still have a bananapants holiday schedule - with this match now set for the 22nd December, they have matches on Dec 22, 28, 30, and Jan 1, and and FA Cup third round on the 6th - but at least now, fans and team can enjoy a little break on Christmas Eve and Christmas, so even if they’re not celebrating that particular holiday, there’s a breather in an otherwise pointlessly crowded fixture calendar.