Arsene Wenger has reacted to the possibility of a Christmas Eve fixture against Liverpool and admitted that clubs and fans are being dictated to by the demands of television.
However, rather than take the same approach as Jurgen Klopp who was roundly critical of the idea, the Arsenal manager was more open to it, saying that there should be a cut-off point for the kick off of no later than 2pm.
Wenger’s stance is more than likely because such a compromise has already been reached between the clubs and Sky, but not yet announced.
Speaking at his press conference today, he said, “Personally I would prefer to be at my home on Christmas night and celebrate Christmas, but I still feel that could happen if we played early on the day and what you wouldn’t like to sacrifice is the evening with the family for people.
“Overall we go towards society where religion isn’t considered anymore in any decision and where people want as well to watch football during the Christmas period.
“I know that we have to adapt to the schedule dictated by the television, but overall I would say if that happens personally I don’t think any game should be played after two o’clock at the latest on the 24th because Christmas Day in England is the 25th.”
It’s an issue which has caused a lot of backlash, and while it might suit some fans, many feel that they’re being asked to choose between football and family at a traditional time of the year.
It’s an issue for Liverpool fans too, who will have to travel from Merseyside and back on a day which is not optimal for public transport, and we asked Neil Atkinson of The Anfield Wrap for his thoughts on the manager’s comments and the issue in general.
“Wenger is, as ever, pragmatic and calm but I do think football should do what it can to say no to this in general,” he said.
“Beyond any notion of “decency” or religion, in the most basic sense the country doesn’t have the infrastructure for it. Speaking as someone normally relaxed about kick off times, Christmas Eve just all feels a bit unnecessary.
“I can see there is an issue here with legislation around Saturday football, protecting the 3pm but I would rather see that made an exception for this year on the 23rd than have supporters criss-crossing the country on a day it is invariably difficult to do so.
“In general it may well be worth asking what we mean and want from the Christmas calendar.”
What are your thoughts? Will it impinge on your festive period, or enhance it? We’ve created a poll to track people’s reaction to it – your votes are very welcome here.