Reports of Premier League games on Christmas Eve a ‘kick in the teeth’ for fans

The Football Supporters’ Association condemned reports that this season could stage the first Christmas Eve fixture since 1995

Jamie Braidwood
Friday 20 October 2023 18:48 BST
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Reports of the Premier League and broadcasters scheduling the first Christmas Eve fixture since 1995 this season are a “kick in the teeth” for match-going fans, the Football Supporters’ Association has said.

It follows a report in The Telegraphthat at least one fixture could be moved to Sunday December 24 this year. The Express and Star then reported that the match between Wolves and Chelsea is under consideration for the slot.

The English top-flight has not staged a match on Christmas Eve since Leeds United played Manchester United in 1995, in a contest that is still remembered for Tony Yeboah’s stunning strike for the hosts in a 3-1 win at Elland Road.

But a fixture has not been scheduled on the day before Christmas since, with supporters voicing their opposition due to the challenges of matchday travel - particularly for away fans.

Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, with a full schedule of matches set to be played on Saturday December 23, as well as the traditional Boxing Day fixtures on December 26.

“Reports suggest the Premier League and broadcasters are set to ignore supporters and schedule a Christmas Eve fixture for the first time since 1995. It’s an unwanted present which no-one asked for,” the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) said.

“It would be a huge kick in the teeth for supporters who have consistently made clear their opposition to games the day before Christmas – as it’s not the first time this has been proposed.

“Back in October 2017 there were reports that Sky Sports wanted to broadcast games on Christmas Eve which we said represented ‘a new low point in putting the interests of football broadcasters over those of matchgoing fans’.

“It would put many supporters in an impossible choice between going to the match or spending festive time with their families – and that’s before you factor in the added challenges of travelling on a Sunday.

“In the past decade or so Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday in 2011, 2016 and 2022 while 2017 was a Sunday. There was no top-flight football on those days which suggests an informal policy the Premier League is now looking to backtrack on.”

Commenting on the reports that Chelsea fans could face travelling to Wolverhampton on Christmas Eve, Mark Meehan, the chair of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, said such a decision would be “totally unacceptable”.

“During a time when we ought to be helping supporters travel to away fixtures, it’s outrageous that another hurdle could be placed in their way,” Meehan said.

A statement from the Wolves 1877 Supporters Trust also criticised any change to Christmas Eve. “This potential scheduling once again shows a complete lack of consideration and respect for fans, especially Wolves fans who travel from further afield, and of course visiting Chelsea supporters,” the group said.

“We also feel that this is unfair on club staff, especially those with young children, who will have planned to spend Christmas with their families. We urge the Premier League to consider this decision very carefully before making an announcement.”

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