Last weekend snowy weather conditions played havoc with the Premier League fixture list, next week will probably be similar. The recent inclement weather does raise one important issue though as far as the all important Christmas period is concerned; Why does the EPL make fans travel the length and breadth of the country when fixtures closer to home could easily be arranged?
The point I’m trying to make is that Premier League fixtures around the Christmas period, and on Boxing Day/ St. Stephen’s Day in specific, should be derbies. The main thought process behind this is that fans should not be subjected to travelling the length and breadth of the country when local fixtures can easily be arranged for them.
For instance, wouldn’t it make more sense if, let’s say, Manchester United played against another side based in Greater Manchester on the 26th of December instead of travelling to the likes of Sunderland?
The difference the reduced travelling would make for fans would be substantial, especially in times of poor weather.
I the current inception of the Premier League we have four teams based in Greater Manchester (Manchester United, Manchester City, Bolton, Wigan), five teams based in London (Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham, Fulham), two clubs in Liverpool (Liverpool and Everton), two more in the North East (Newcastle and Sunderland), four clubs based around Birmingham (West Brom, Aston Villa, Wolves, Birmingham City), two clubs in Lancashire (Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool) and Stoke City.
If the Premier League considered its many fans local games could be arranged where fans could travel locally and still be home for tea.
In any weekend there are ten matches in the EPL. If Sky Television and the many parties involved in the live coverage of games could come together they could realistically come up with a package where every single match could conceivably be an important derby.
Even if the TV Gods hated the whole idea of pushing one half of the league’s derbies into a two or three day period, they could make sure that fans did not have to travel that far on one of the most important family holidays of the season.
A conceivable fixture list where travelling would be minimised for fans could look like this;
Liverpool vs. Everton
Manchester United vs. Bolton
Wigan vs. Manchester City
Newcastle vs. Sunderland
Blackpool vs. Blackburn
Fulham vs. West Ham
Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Stoke vs. Spurs
West Brom vs. Birmingham
Aston Villa vs. Wolves
And that is without taking potential games like Spurs-Arsenal, United-City, or Villa-Birmingham into account.
If the Premier League was really interested in having a potential nine or ten derbies played in one fixture week they could really hit a PPV bonanza and show every single match live over the course of three consecutive days with matches kicking off at 12.00, 15.00, and 17.30 with the inevitable non-derby fixtures either slotting in alongside these times or moved to a 20.00 kickoff depending upon it’s relative importance.
As luck would have it this year, Fulham-West Ham and Arsenal-Chelsea have come out from the fixture computer, so a great number of London based fans do not have to travel, but in reality – it should be that way every season.
In the all encompassing animal of the English Premier League fans have a habit of being forgotten. At the end of the day they are the life blood of the sport and it would be nice if, for once, the Premier League took them into account at Christmas.