Schmeichel calls for fairer fixtures

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The Independent Football

Peter Schmeichel has called for football's governing bodies to sit down together and work out a fixture list which is fair on the players.

Peter Schmeichel has called for football's governing bodies to sit down together and work out a fixture list which is fair on the players.

Schmeichel left Manchester United in the summer because of the rising number of games and the burden has increased further this season because of the expanded Champions League.

The Dane welcomes the changes to the Champions League, but claims the game's administrators should not forget about the players.

Schmeichel believes the increased fixture burden is taking its toll on several clubs around Europe and that FIFA, UEFA and the various national associations need to act.

Several of United's players looked like they could do with a rest after they struggled to beat Sturm Graz in their final Champions League group game last night.

"I could foresee this that the games would be non-stop," said Schmeichel.

"Also internationally with the European Championships and the World Cup there will be more games as well because there are more countries in the qualification groups now than there were 10 years ago.

"All this means more games and I think what has to happen now is that everybody has to sit down around the table and negotiate the right format for the domestic leagues, the Champions League, the European competitions and the World Cup so that everybody gets the right format.

"Because it might be right for the Champions League, but not right for the domestic leagues.

"Even in Portugal it's difficult for teams that are in the Champions League.

"They are having to play a lot of games like Boavista, who are a very, very good team, but who are suffering at the moment for being in the Champions League.

"We've seen AIK Stockholm, who have been dominant in Sweden for years, and they have just faded away.

"They were seven points in front when they started playing in the Champions League and they have ended up third in their league.

"It all has to be worked out and it takes time.

"I remember when the Champions League first started and it took two or three years to find the right format and then it was perfect.

"We'll just have to see how this year goes, but the format now guarantees that most of the top teams in Europe are there."

The likes of United have learnt to cope with the crippling fixture list by assembling huge squads, but Schmeichel feels this has a down side.

"United and AC Milan started it about 10 years ago and they have two teams now," he said.

"In many ways that's a shame because it takes some of the quality of the domestic leagues away.

"Teams take players away from other teams to have as cover players or whatever you want to call them."

Schmeichel, who was in Manchester promoting his new autobiography, believes another way to help the players would be to harmonise each country's domestic season as far as possible to provide proper breaks.

"I've said many times that the Premiership should synchronise the starting point and finishing points of the season to the rest of Europe because that would help so much," he said.

"It would give players an actual break during the summer and would fit in with the European Championships and the World Cup.

"I remember before Euro 96 we finished the season and then we had a month before we played our first game and that was a month wasted.

"I think for all players it's important that you get breaks at the right time.

"It's a question of communications and the domestic leagues need to sit down with the domestic FAs and UEFA and FIFA and find out a way of fitting it all in."